Software review: PC: Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs

Having enjoyed Sierra’s Age of Empires series based around ancient Greece and its myths, I was keen to repeat my dynasty-building experience.

I was pleased to discover that Battle of Red Cliffs resembles the Age of Empires titles both visually and structurally. Here, rather than being a Greek god, you play as one of three warring Chinese rulers, but the general aim of building up an army to pick fights with the neighbours remains (See here for a screenshot).

Before you can begin to plan a sortie, you must establish a base and people it with useful inhabitants — warriors, labourers, farmers and anyone else likely to contribute food and skills. This is how you’ll spend your first few hours, so plan your city carefully. Exploit the crops and natural resources, and make sure your subjects keep up to speed with the latest battle techniques.

Battle of Red Cliffs has been created with an obsessive’s attention to detail, so if your settlement isn’t up to scratch or your populace is deficient in any area this will be reflected in your battlefield performance.

Those with a real interest in Chinese history will be delighted by the developer’s adherence to the original manuscript The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written in medieval times. The cast includes hundreds of the era’s leaders, and many of the battles actually occurred. However, I found the detailed biographies and lengthy excerpts an unnecessary distraction at times, particularly as the dialogue is in Chinese so you are forced to follow everything onscreen.

Dragon Throne is cleverly made and its focus makes a welcome change from endless WWII real-time strategy games. Publisher: Strategy First

Developer: Object Software