"Khan, what is best in life?"
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the VIPS as I drive yet another strategy game through it."
Story & World
The manual gives a quick synopsis of the history of the Mongol unification and moves right on into the rules. With so many of these strategy games having a sameness about them, I like to have a solid background to start the game with. The occasional territorial sickness or cold snap sorta livened things up but didn't really have a lot of impact. This one more than the previous Koei games lacked enough flavour to draw one into the world.
A few options for interaction exist with any of the homogeneous
chieftains. An alliance will net you five years of nonaggression and
was used quite often in most of my attempts so that I could focus on one
enemy. The other two options involve demanding tribute or ordering
them to become a vassal state. Temujin didn't bother with any of that
bureaucratic nonsense and just stomped mudholes in their asses instead. 3/20
The same randomized stats as in previous Koei games are present here. Rolls are made for Temujin and then four family-loyal princes with the baseline dropping for each subsequent prince. In game, stats can be trained and need to be since doing actions depletes them. This makes the initial rolls fairly insignificant. Luckily, there is an option to automatically generate the attributes even though this will generally mean lower stats overall.
An array of six different weapon types seems impressive at first but they
all just affect the overall arms level (more expensive weapons add more
points). Imagine the Mongolian horde being entirely armed with daggers
instead of spears and halberds. I limited the army to only buying
weapons that were appropriate for horseback and it didn't cause much of a
Combat & Monsters
With the dumb soldier-killing terrains ruining half the map, battles weren't nearly as enjoyable as other parts of the game. With the enemy AI just sitting there and duhing it up, battles were swift and final. Appropriate for the setting, yes, but making for lackluster combat. I was almost wishing there was a fire option at one point (yeah right, sike!). Early game battles were the best with everyone low on troops and even a successful defense meant that you'd be slightly weaker and more of a target for some other tribe.
Three basic unit types of cavalry, infantry, and archers. After some
initial experimentation with all the types, it was soon settled that an
all cavalry army was the way to go. Playing Mongols after all. These
are guys who slept in their saddles for christ's sake. Enemy units
always stayed huddled in their cozy little castle and town and I must
say that I can't blame them. I'd be scared too if I saw 2,000
bloodthirsty mounted Mongols barreling down on me (but not if there was
just 1,000). 4/20
Graphics & Sound
Pretty similar to the previous titles. Portraits have that typical Koei look to them. Music was nothing special and there are few sound effects. 5/20
Decent economic system driven by food and gold as per usual. More
interesting is the workforce system used to increase the two economic
staples. The ruler has full control over the ratio of workers in each
of the four fields. The workforce itself is increased every year and
can be additionally increased by hiring troops from another country and
then reassigning them to the general workforce. This flexibility allows
for any territory to quickly become productive as long as there is
enough population to go around. The specialty goods aspect of the
trading system is a nice addition and allows for a little market
speculation on the side. Late game resource transfers are hampered by
the fact that only the base territory where Temujin resides can give
transfer orders. It would have been far better to allow each territory
to give such an order, as in previous Koei games.
Good interconnectedness between territories. Excellent resource management mechanics (workforce system is a big plus). Resources only start to become useless in the late game when the difficulty of moving goods to the front results in wasteful stockpiles. The main campaign allows one to play as any one of four major nations so there may be replay value there but they probably all function the same. 15/20
Final Ranking: 31/100