This page was last updated on Thursday, 17 May 2001.
RTS wargame game : 1players : PS2 Memory Card : Analogue Dual Shock : EA / Koei
Result : 5 - RPG wargaming.
Kessen is a very Japanese take on the real-time strategy wargame genre. In some ways it's like a massive soap set in 17th C Japan with encompassing and majestic battle scenes in between the drama. You control one of two sides, initially the East, vying for control of power. All the characters are based on real Japanese history, as are the battles, and the general storyline. I'm sure things like the ninja's and bizarre hats they wore are modern innovations, but you do feel as though your expanding your mind when you play.
The graphics are amazing, huge draw distances, hundreds of animated warriors slugging it out, all with the ability to zoom the camera about checking on different combats, or seeing the eagles-eye view of the whole field. One downer is that the camera dosent have complete freedom, the mode seems to bizzarely affect how much elevation etc you are allowed to traverse. FMV's are copious and professionally made, although they soon become repetitive - especially when an FMV is played whenever an order is given to an underling, or a special manoeuvre is carried out.
Sound is impressive, with full surround sound, massive booming guns, and the thunder of your cavalry's hooves. Music is the inspirational marching-type music so beloved by the worlds armies, but with a slightly oriental flavour. It also plunges into classic Japanese soothing strings and flute music too. The voice acting is of reasonable quality, and is only slightly hammy and cliched.
Although Kessen is an impressive package, it just doesn't quite come together, it is rather short, and there is an inordinate amount of FMV's to wade through and not enough fighting for a real wargamer. It's more like a Japanese history lessen, with rather simple battles to piece together the storyline, all too often you feel like a spectator as the AI is often merely adequate, and sometimes downright stupid. I wanted to like Kessen, and it is good. It just isn't the be-all and end-all of wargaming. Worth a rent if only to see just how powerful the PS2 is at animating hundreds of soldiers at once.
Play as the West: