Fed up with economic farming games? Bored at building things for park visitors to go and see? Was your favourite bit of Red Alert the point where you sent a hundred tanks in with a flanking manoeuvre involving tesla soldiers? Well Takeda is all about fighting - there's no economic consideration, no development or research to do, it's straight onto the battlefield with generals and troops to deploy in order to conquer your opponent.
Takeda is a real time war game, you can choose between campaigns, one off historical battles, or play via the net or LAN against mates. Action is loosely based on a 16th century warlord "Takeda Shingen" and you must defend and fight for the honour of your homeland. Apart from the narrative and the titles of your generals though, this game could be set anywhere, it is straightforwardly, a battle simulator.
Ditching the rather wordy instruction manual and heading straight for the samurai game play is hampered by there being no tutorial. Going for a historical battle nevertheless, allows the commands to be quickly grasped and this allows you to commence participating in the feudal war. Game controls are designed for easy access in battle, right clicking on a troop will select his entire division giving you options to regroup, stand-ground, etc. On the navigation bar are additional orders for you entire corps - which proves very useful if a hasty retreat is required.
Each battle starts by allowing configuration of the army - choosing where to put each of your generals, and those they command, in positions on the map. Portraits of the generals can be moved like playing cards (in solitaire) onto the map and the formations can be toggled depending on whether an attack or defence set up is required.
With a fantastic array of formations, better than in any other battle game we have played, each type works best dependent on the scenario and its this that makes Takeda distinctive. Available options from the outset include a half moon formation - to lure the enemy in and surround and destroy them, or a dragon formation - revealing only a small portion of the battalion to trick the enemy into thinking your army is much smaller than in reality.
Takeda has to be run in high resolution, (minimum 1024x768) each character is like an ant on the screen so the only individuals you really work with are the top level of your command. This does mean that our test PC happily played out a battle of over 1000 units and the god-like overview of battle is fully maximised.
Being so far away from the action however does give a non-participatory feeling and there's no great sense of loss if the enemy kills half your army, as their bodies are obviously just a few pixels on the map. When you lose a battle your launched into the same scenario again, and losses are constant, in fact losses are more like total devastation, as we restarted each time with fewer troops, it wasn't long until we started to taste utter humiliation.
If you are feeling in a purist mood, and just want to get involved in conquering the enemy, Takeda is successful in allowing you to move troops like pawns on a grand scale map, whilst the graphics remain sufficiently visually pleasing. Battle cries and the Japanese Soundtrack though still left the action somewhat lacking, the combat was just too far away.
Perhaps fans of the board game "Risk" will enjoy it best, glued to a game that offers numerous troop manoeuvres and rewards for bravery, valour and leadership. Takeda excels solely as an unadulterated battlefield simulation, for a little more than that you might want to stick with Shogun: Total War.Overall score: 4 out of 10
Players: 1 (plus multiplayer over LAN/Internet)
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: NowBuy Takeda for the PC from Amazon