The new Nobunaga's Ambition includes Western PCs

By Owen Faraday 02 Sep 2015 0

Set a bit too early for your Last Samurai role-playing needs but what you do on your time is your business.

Japan's venerable strategy gaming house Koei is doing two exceptional things this week. They're localizing the latest installment of their flagship wargame franchise -- something that happens about as often as a new Dr. Dre album. But even more rare than that: it's coming to PC, and it's available on Steam right now. The game was originally meant to launch on Thursday, but Koei apparently couldn't keep their powder dry that long.

Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence is the fifteenth game in the series -- depending on how you count it. Koei have made dozens of spin-off titles for various platforms, including a 2012 Nintendo DS cross-over starring the Pokemon. Luckily for us, Sphere of Influence seems rather less whimsical than that one.

Koei sent along a preview build of the game and I've been really enjoying it. Part of that is nostalgia; I grew up with Koei strategy sims like Aerobiz and PTO, and their house style for presentation is charmingly little-changed from the late 1980s. But Sphere of Influence is also a good game on its own merits. It's a turn-based grand strategy game set during Japan's feudal period. You can play as one of dozens of historical daimyo lords, including the titular Nobunaga -- Japan's first unifier. There's a number of scenarios but your larger goal in all of them is to follow in Nobunaga's footsteps and conquer all of Japan through war or diplomacy.

Rebellion of the Tetris pieces.

The combat is like a greatly simplified Total War, real-time engagements featuring formations led by your hand-picked officers, and enhanced by those officer's special abilities. At the strategic level there's so much to do that it would shame a Paradox grand strategy game. You develop roads and other infrastructure in your towns, fortify ancient castles, train troops, conspire with the officers of enemy clans to lure them to your side and carefully manage your own men so that the reverse doesn't happen to you.

It's a very complex package, easily equal in scope to most Western grand strategy games of the recent years. Its UI also feels like a native PC game's -- no small thing for a franchise so firmly rooted in consoles.

Nobunaga's Ambition: Sphere of Influence is on Steam right now. Check out the trailer below.

Tags: PC



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