- Publisher: Huayu Games
- Origin: China
- Players: MMO
- Rating: 12+
- Price: Free download through iTunes plus virtual currency
- Format: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch (3rd and 4th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later. (Reviewed on iPad 2)
Chaos of Three Kingdoms is a turn-based strategy game (TBS) developed by Huayu Games. Based on the historical battles of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient China, it has been available in Chinese for some time but recently released in English for iOS mobile devices.
It’s been a while since I’ve played a TBS but I soon adopted the familiar position of trusty spreadsheet by my side helping me plan future battles and conquests. Information is provided in a need-to-know fashion, as the player levels up or via the quest prompts. This has the advantage of not overwhelming the player but a more detailed overarching introduction would be welcome and helpful for those not familiar with the Three Kingdoms narrative.
Following a brief encounter with the Yellow Turban Rebellion, you are introduced to your home base from which you must build your army and resources. Through the acquisition of resources such as silver and food (obtained by occupying silver mines and farms respectively) you can upgrade your base and improve specific areas including the Academy (technology and science), Market (purchase and enhance equipment), Training Ground, Vault and Barracks for your ever-ready to battle troops. Thus core gameplay focuses on the development of your strategy (diplomatic, technology, military and economic resources) and military tactics required to win each battle (troops, training, equipment, formation).
Then it’s on to the grand battle! Initially, battles are against NPC (non-playing characters) enemy and ally opponents. This serves as an introduction to different Heroes (generals), their skills and strengths, equipment and how to employ military tactics to defeat your opponent. Success in battle is largely a function of strategy and your ability to make effective choices. After attacking an enemy NPC you have the option of recruiting them to your own army, bolstering your strength and skill sets. Different Heroes possess various strengths in blocking and attacking that are later developed through training. Purchasing and enhancing equipment (weapons, armor, horses, and stratagems) will also ensure your Heroes abilities are maximised.
After choosing a country (Wei, Shu or Wu) and joining a Legion you can challenge other online players through PVP (player versus player) and Legion battles. It was difficult to ascertain which Legion to join as only minimal information was provided in-game (perhaps developers intend for players to seek out additional information on the forums) but becoming a Legion member is essential to acquire more resources such as gold as well as participating in Legion level battles and tournaments.
As with most freemium MMOs, one of your greatest opponents will be time. Silver is required to build your base and army but there are opportunities to speed build times or buy outright the resources or equipment needed by using Gold, which is purchased using real world currency or through Legion members bombing your gold mines. Gold becomes more important as you ascend through the levels of the game, allowing you to expand your equipment slots, train faster, purchase items to synthesize and create stronger battle skills.
The graphics and music are good for this type of genre, which usually focus on game play rather than aesthetics. However, a minor complaint is that given the amount of instruction and dialogue provided in-game and the obvious desire to appeal to an English speaking market, the developers may want to polish up the English content which at times detracts from otherwise strong game play.
If you love the mythology of Ancient China and turn-based strategy games but want the ease of going mobile, this is a game you can conquer with relish… and of course with the added bonus of being free.
Note: This review was undertaken with the assistance of a gift pack from RenRen Game.
Natalie is co-founder and Engagement Designer at Hummingbird Interactive, a Singapore-based gamification and motivational design consultancy. She blogs at www.recognitionpattern.com.