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If your a fan of the series then you already know what this game is about, if not then strap yourself into the couch, grab plenty of beverages of your choice and a pizza because brother your not going anywhere for a while. What I've found this year is that the game is a lot less like RTK 8 and a lot more like RTK 5, now while not necessarily a bad thing because its a nice change of pace, it can cause some headaches from time to time due to the strategists challenge ahead of you. Basically as with ALL RTK games you pick an officer from the hundreds of historical chinese figures, and choose to play on a certain force or start your own in a conquest to unite all of China. Along the way you'll encounter duels, castle sieges, discover friendships, and bitter rivalries, in what comes out to be a satisfying strategy game experience. What you might not like is the repetition, it is not uncommon to spend hours raising your cities domestics, like farming, trading, or repairing the castles defense without battling at all. If you stick it out though you'll find the benefits to be very rewarding as you watch a million super nintendo era graphical warriors battle it out to the sounds of war drums and chinese themed instrumentals. Its like playing a living game of Chess. Now after you've mastered this challenging game with all of its original officers, and still feel like more than feel free to create your own kick butt chinese warrior and hit the battle map as yourself with a legion of created maniacs to slaughter the all intimidating likes of Lu Bu, Guan Yu, or Zhang Fei. All in All while yes its the ninth edition of the series, it still has enough juice in it to satisfy the strategist craving in you. Enjoy.
Being the ninth edition of the Romance of The Three Kingdoms series when number 11 has already been out might make this seem less desirable... But that's not the case with any of the ROTK games. Each ROTK game adds something to change game-play and experience. In 9 the experience switches from 8's first person perspective into a ruler perspective once again. Armies march out in Real Time for the first time and the world is shaped by 3-D map.
Unlike what you probably read in the reviews the city building aspect of this game isn't nearly as grinding as it once was. Orders can be given swiftly and smoothly and turns that would take a person new to the game an hour to make would take a mere minute.
As far as how well 9 matches up to the others... 9 is probably the best multiplayer game of the ROTK series. Easily the fastest pace of all the games.
Another game that's like this is Nobunaga's Ambition Iron Triangle
Unlike the previous edition, you have no choice but to be a ruler. Also, you need to give commands to every city individually, unless you leave them in the hands of viceroys, who generally make fairly poor decisions (the computer enemies also make fairly poor decisions, for the most part). The training point system for improving the attributes and skills of your officers is also rather annoying; it is easily gamed if you play more than one ruler (thus multiplying the amount of tedious micro-management, of course) and have them trade cities back and forth, but without doing that you don't get to improve your officers much at all.
On the plus side, terrain actually matters; the gates provide some notable delaying effect, so it's easier to attack cities not hiding behind gates, and it also can end up mattering whether you have to cross water.