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Review by: Gavin Carter
Published: January 18, 2002
You can’t help but love the little guys. Just about every year, some heretofore-unknown developer comes crashing right out of the clear blue sky, delivering a title of such caliber that it instantly catapults the game and its developers to fame and fortune. Any fan of the historical strategy genre will certainly remember the almost rags-to-riches story of Creative Assembly and their landmark 2000 title Shogun: Total War, which immediately became established as a benchmark for the entire genre. Magitech is the next small-time development team to step up to plate with Takeda, a title that attempts to emulate the success of Shogun in just about every way possible. Comparisons between CA’s Shogun and Magitech’s Takeda are absolutely impossible to avoid. Takeda features the exact same setting, similar units, controls, and objectives. While this may initially excite fans of Shogun, a genre-defining product is certainly a tough act to follow, or even emulate. Still, Magitech has taken that problem to task with Takeda, seeking to carry on the legacy of great medieval Japanese real-time strategy games.
Set in the year 1542 (exactly 12 years after the events in Shogun), Takeda seeks to put the player into the shoes of Takeda Shingen, a young man who rose to power and fame in Northern Japan. Takeda takes place just after one of the brutal civil wars that constantly rollicked medieval Japan. In the power vacuum that followed, many local warlords and small-time military leaders began to vie with one another for control by organizing massive armies of troops to wage war on one another throughout the land. The entirety of the campaign mode simply follows the Takeda clan from its rather humble beginnings through its conquests of other clans’ lands and on to national dominance. Takeda is very strict about its adherence to actual history, even throwing in several historical battles, featuring the actual troops and formations used.
Takeda offers three ways of diving into some medieval Japanese slaughter: the campaign mode, the historical battle mode, and a multiplayer component. The campaign mode takes place on a large map of central Japan, showing the locations and relative strengths of all the warring clans. Clans are differentiated by their starting strengths, ability to produce military units, and each gets certain bonuses in regards to individual unit types. Since territorial boundaries were constantly changing at that point in history, Magitech left the political boundaries off of their map. Instead, each clan just hovers over their general location, represented by their clan symbol. Events are relayed to you by way of pop-up pieces of parchment, which let you know who you will be attacking next, and any extraneous events such as alliances or betrayals, by the various other clans. Sometimes rival clans will unite against the player, while other times friendly clans will offer their help in defeating a common enemy.
Takeda doesn’t feature any sort of resource model whatsoever, other than your troops themselves. There isn’t even a technology tree to speak of; the focus is purely on combat and strategic thinking. Each turn in campaign mode, the player has the option to either head directly into battle, or to “rest” for a year. If the player opts to rest, his or her army numbers will increase accordingly. The numbers for all the enemy armies increase as well, some at faster rates than the player’s own, so resting must only be used as a last resort. The overview map allows the player to examine the relative strengths of each clan, and get a short description on each. Since the campaign of Takeda is strictly linear, the only other option presented is to head directly into the next battle.
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