'Total War: Three Kingdoms' game review: The strategy game lives up to expectations despite a few glitches with the battle AI

The upcoming Creative Assembly release draws on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history in this largely satisfying experience

Wong Tsui-kai |

Latest Articles

One of the battle scenes from "Total War: Three Kingdoms".

Total War: Three Kingdoms is the latest entry in the Total War strategy game series. The PC game draws on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history during 220AD–280AD.

One of the most important, well-known parts of the Three Kingdoms period are the historical names involved, and Total War: Three Kingdoms relies on these people heavily. The in-game characters are modelled on real people, such as Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Jian, which means they have particular likes and dislikes. When characters are paired up, some combinations will work better than others, which can affect gameplay.

There are two game modes in the game. Romance mode, named for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel, focuses on the heroes of the story. Players get to control them as lone units on the battlefield, where they fight one on one duels, collect weapons, and take on armies in epic fashion.

Records mode on the other hand, named after the official dynastic history Records of the Three Kingdoms, removes most of the ahistorical elements, and offers the player a more grounded gameplaying experience.

Two areas that have improved in this Total War edition are diplomacy and espionage. Characters can spy on other factions, and players have to keep an eagle eye out for people who might be doing the same to them. Diplomacy has also been streamlined, and the user interface has been much improved on previous games.

Graphics quality will depend on the power of your machine (please check what is needed before buying) but, generally speaking, the game looks nice, and does a good job in showing off the look and feel of Ancient China.

The game runs fairly smoothly, too, with reasonable wait times between turns and battles. The battle AI is, sadly, still a bit buggy. The computer-controlled battlefield units, for example, can still act strangely – especially

when it comes to siege battles.

On the whole, though, these flaws don’t detract from the game. Total War: Three Kingdoms is worthy of the Total War name and the HK$388 price tag.

This review is based on a review copy provided by publisher Sega. The game will be released on May 23.

You might also like: 

Road to Guangdong game review: slice-of-life road-trip sim, from the publishers of 'Jalopy', is slow but charming

YouTuber Kingsan recreates Hong Kong in simulation video game 'Cities: Skylines' as a love letter to our city

Days Gone game review: PlayStation exclusive makes the zombie apocalypse beautiful but routine