Takeda is based on the exploits of Takeda Shingen, a real 16th century Daimyo (a man with land capable of producing more than 10,000 koku of rice) who lived in feudal Japan. The country is experiencing violent civil war and Takeda struggles to carve a place for himself and his family in the brutal political climate.
Gameplay consists of a very straightforward combat campaign with the focus on tactical battle strategy. As Takeda, you control swordsmen, spear throwers, archers, cavalry, and riflemen (if you can acquire the firearms technology) and arrange squads into one of several formations, each with specific functions. For instance, attack formations include the tiger and the snake, while defensive formations feature the half-moon and circle. Battle formations include a center, wings, a reserve, and flanking detachments. You can command troops to move around the battlefield and attack, make them walk or ride faster in an all-out attack, regroup, or retreat if the battle is going badly.
Before a battle, you select a formation and place your troops in whatever combination you feel will be most effective for the mission. Typical mission goals involve attacking enemies, cutting down flags, and decimating troops. The terrain changes with each scenario; some are open battlefields and others have the enemy ensconced behind walls. There are no siege weapons, but troops can be commanded to break down doors and enter the enemy's fortress.
In the beginning, gameplay seems deceptively easy, but as the campaign continues, battles rapidly become more difficult and require extra attention to strategy and tactics. Fortunately, battle length is reasonable since you're not required to hunt down every last enemy soldier once objectives are met. Between battles, you can choose various actions: rest troops, make political alliances, manage your military, or, perhaps even marry. These decisions add a bit of role-playing, but are brief and don't appear to have much impact on the game. Resting troops gains strength, but also gives the enemy time to gather their forces against you.
While the designers are to be commended for the game's attention to detail and originality of subject matter, Takeda is not particularly engaging. With very few decisions to make regarding management of troops or resources, gameplay moves along swiftly, but battles eventually become repetitive. If you or an enemy is seriously outnumbered, the outcome is almost a foregone conclusion and strategy becomes largely unimportant. For fans of feudal Japan and realistic strategic combat, the game may be enjoyable, but casual PC gamers may not find much to hold their interest.
Graphics: Artwork is excellent, but the battle graphics are average. With no zoom feature, troops look very tiny and lack detail from the default bird's eye view. Game runs smoothly even with hundreds of individuals running around in battle.
Sound: Initially, battle sounds are exciting with troops shouting in Japanese and realistic sounds of hand-to-hand combat, but the sounds loop many times during the course of a battle and eventually become annoying. The soundtrack is appropriate but unremarkable.
Enjoyment: With little or no learning curve, the game can be started and played without even opening the manual. Battles can be frustrating when you are clearly outnumbered by enemy troops, but the occasional political decision, outside of the battles, offers additional variety to gameplay.
Replay Value: The campaign appears to be largely linear with a few opportunities for making political decisions. There are several historical battles that can be re-enacted, but two-player mode did not work during play testing for the review.
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