March 09, 2012

Destiny of an Emperor - Ranking

Story & World

DoaE cries out epic on so many levels, from the massive skirmishes to the throngs of generals to the sheer size of the world.  The switching out of key generals at different points in the game is a masterstroke in making the story seem so much bigger than any one individual.  However, its monstrous scale is also its greatest liability.  Even my semi-computerized brain crashed a few times as it tried to process the overwhelming number of similarly named generals.  Bonus point for having the Great Wall as the top barrier on the map.

NPCs are numerous as there are many locations for them to be in.  A nice surprise here is that sometimes an innocuous-looking town NPC ends up turning into a fight.  These can be especially difficult if the characters just fought a battle to liberate the town beforehand (and forget to make the inn their first stop).  Very few dialogue branches which were mostly irrelevant anyway.  Will give credit for the five second pause dialogue as it got me good.  Suitable balance between flavour and helpful text.

There are around eight major quests or chapters throughout the game.  It starts from crushing a small rebellion in Tao Qian's lands to bringing peace to the whole of China.  As previously mentioned, no single general is the hero here; it takes many different generals working together to accomplish all the quests.  Most quests involved defeating <general> at <location> but a few minor quests involved item fetching which changed the pace, albeit briefly.  13/20

Character Development

Gaining experience levels is different from the norm here.  Most generals do not benefit at all from leveling.  Certain key generals increase their soldier maximums and can gain new tactics as levels go up.  The experience is applied to the army as a whole; the generals are just mods that can alter the overall effectiveness of the entire army.  However, with just two stats, STRength and INTelligence, it makes picking front line generals too easy of a decision.

Armour and weapon upgrades are merely a matter of being able to afford the best.  There is a slight variation in that bow type weapons fire twice per round and so may actually deal more damage than the next available melee weapon.  Items come in the usual assortments (healing, teleporting, power ups, etc.).  7/20

Combat & Monsters

Random combats are almost always of the going all-out variety.  Generals that show up in the random battles are usually ones that have beaten many times before.  Tactical combat really comes to the forefront in the major storyline battles.  Ganging up on the most threatening general is a typical strategy although sometimes the enemy gets the same idea.  The power of the late game tactics provided the deepest and most enjoyable battles (as it should be).

The monsters consists of all soldiers, all the time.  The large number of generals doesn't make up for the fact that they're all pretty much the same.  Enemy generals able to use tactics help alleviate this somewhat (especially the more powerful tactics available in late game).  The encounter rate is a tad high but bearable.  9/20

Graphics & Sound

The portraits for each general are nicely done but the rest of the graphics are just passable.  Some scenery in the battles would have been nice instead of a solid black background.  The music is thankfully period appropriate and overall well done.  Sound effects are all right but nothing too special.  12/20

Gameplay

Very solid economy for the first half and then breaks down like so many others.  Very little grinding was needed in the game and there is even a system in place to limit the amount of grinding that can be done.  This is accomplished through food management to feed the soldiers.  Food can either be purchased or gained by defeating enemy generals except those from random encounters.  Generous food drops from static encounters are sufficient to keep most armies going and food rarely needs to be purchased.

The overall layout is very linear.  There is some backtracking to previously conquered locations but one would never get lost in doing so.  Not much point in replaying this unless one wanted an addition challenge by purposely using crap generals.  Easy game overall except for a few major conflicts which require both good tactics and a little luck.  The pacing dragged at points but wasn't horrible considering the scope of the entire package.  7/20

Final Ranking:  48/100