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Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence

Score: 84%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Developer: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

When I first heard that I was getting Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence I (wrongly) assumed that it would be a fighting game similar to the Warriors series. Instead, Nobunagaís Ambition is a complex strategy game more similar to Civilization, but with full control over your fighting units. Even though that is not the style game I was expecting, I have found it to be quite intriguing.

The opening scenes are simply beautiful. Of course, they look much better on the PS4 than the PS3. I love the music that accompanies the opening as well. Itís quite nice to just sit and listen to it. Actually, I like the background music in the whole game. Really, you donít need the music at all, so turn on anything you want, but if you donít feel like your own music, the background is nice. All of Nobunagaís Ambition is in English, but you also get subtitles for the times that they speak out loud (which isnít often). One thing that bugged me: the information screens are very difficult to read unless you have a really giant TV. On my 37Ē TV, I was struggling to read them and I have perfect vision. Normally, I donít have problems reading any game text on the smaller screen. However, on the 70Ē TV, everything was quite easy to read.

The character pictures look like they are actually of real people now, rather than the cartoonized versions weíre used to in the Warriors series. Itís nice to see that someone like Kotaru Fuma looked more like a real person than a demon. While the game isnít going to win awards for the graphics, everything looks clean and neat. When youíre scrolling, it flows well. You donít have to deal with jumps and skips of the screen.


Gameplay:

As I mentioned, Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence is a simulation/strategy game. When you start a new game, you can choose to skip the tutorial and start at the Birth of Nobunaga (or any of the other 10 scenarios), but if youíre new to the game, I recommend you start with the tutorial as it will explain a bit about what youíre trying to do in Nobunagaís Ambition. The tutorial starts with Nobunagaís ascension to power as leader of the clan when his father dies. But instead of doing the work, he puts a retainer in charge, you. Itís the quickest way to explain how you are going to need to learn to balance the things you need to do, like build the army, expand the towns, etc., with the amount of money you have to spend on these things, plus the number of people you need to make them happen. Itís definitely a balancing act! Fair warning, it takes a while to get through even the tutorial. You can choose to save at any time, so donít feel like youíre stuck sitting for hours on end just to complete a scenario.

When you choose a scenario, you will then get to choose which clan to play as and you can pick from any of the clans that existed historically at that time. That means that each of the 10 scenarios has probably 40+ options and nearly 100 clans on some (I didnít count every clan for every scenario), which gives you a whole lot of different choices to play. Obviously some clans are larger than others. You will get to see how many people, population, resources, and more that each clan has before you choose one to play. You can also edit which clan is located where on the map, but if you do, it will disable all historical facts and feats. The quests are a good way to figure out what you should probably do. If you want to keep things historically accurate, I recommend following them. Of course, you can do whatever you want to in this game, which is part of the fun!

Each month, you will have a council meeting. Here you give the commands to make whatever you want happen. Civil lets you develop your land, set policies, and trade with other lands. Developing your cities is definitely important. If you donít have enough food, people will starve. The size of your army is limited by what you can support. Not only that, but different areas are more suitable to different types of structures. Youíll need to plan well what you do where. Plus, donít forget to fortify your castle among other things! Time pauses if you enter your war council, so if you need to stop things to think, just go to the war council screen. You can bring up a menu to control how fast time flows. Personally, I just let it flow fast, but you can slow it and watch your cities grow. Diplomacy is going to be very important too, if you want to survive. You can check and see how much (or little) the other clans trust you and what their diplomatic stance towards you is on the main map. When you do want to go to war, go to your war council. In battle, you will need to control each of your units (a unit is a group of soldiers in this game). You can direct them and use the strategies, like a pincer movement, to try and best the other clans. Battling is going to be necessary at times to take over the other clans, but once again you will have to balance battle with everything else.


Difficulty:

After choosing your clan in Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence, you will get to set the difficulty. You can start on Easy, Normal, Hard, Extreme, or you can set your own edits. This makes it really easy to customize a game to be as easy or as hard as you want. Personally, I left things on Easy as I freely admit I am not the worldís greatest strategist. Luckily, the game will direct you (a bit) as to what you should probably be concentrating on with suggestions from your advisors.

I mentioned quests before. I found that I really liked using the quests to help me figure out what I should be doing. If you forget what quest you are working on, you can always go check and see from the Information Menu and the Quests. Be warned, you canít take forever to do a quest. Dragging your feet will disrupt history just as much as if you decided not to accept the quest in the first place. It can be difficult to try and play things exactly historically accurate.


Game Mechanics:

I found the controls in Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence a bit difficult to get used to at first, especially in battle. I had a tendency to feel like I was under a time crunch and would press the wrong things from time to time. Once you get the hang of it though, things arenít too difficult. The Right Stick moves the camera. (R2) zooms in, (R1) zooms out. (L1)+Right Stick scrolls around. (L1)+D-pad changes the speed of time and (Square) brings up an Information Menu that allows you to turn off or on whatever information you want to be displayed on the screen. Itís very useful to help with screen clutter. In battle, youíll need to select a unit and then give them a command. If youíve got more than one unit, make sure to give them commands as well. You can fire arrows or do melee combat. Luckily, if youíve told them to fire arrows and the enemies get too close, it will automatically switch to melee for you, so you donít have to stress about that particular aspect. One really great thing is that Nobunagaís Ambition is a cross-save game, so if youíre like me and are continually playing on two different systems, youíll find that very handy!

As I said, Iím not the worldís greatest strategist. I much prefer to run in and kill things, like in the Warriors series. Having said that, I was addicted to Civilization many years ago and so Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence brought back fond memories of those strategies. Once I got back into the mindset, I found Nobunagaís Ambition to be a fun way to pass the time. I did find that I had to take breaks from time to time, which meant I would have to remember what I was planning to do when I started the game back up, but thatís all part of strategy. If youíre looking for a game that will test your brain a bit, in a fun way, and youíre a fan of strategy, check out Nobunagaís Ambition: Sphere of Influence today.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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