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Kessen (PS2)

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9 Reviews

Genre: Adventures & Role-playing

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    9 Reviews
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      29.08.2012 13:02
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      A unique strategy wargame

      Kessen is a wargame for the PS2, and first game in the Kessen series. It is unique in that it focuses purely on the strategic side of war, allowing you to give orders to your generals that they then perform, but giving you no direct control over combat. It is probably the closest to table-top wargaming, or even actual command and control operations that has created in gaming, and this is both its strongest point, and something that will deter many gamers.

      Regarding plot, Kessen is set in the period of feudal Japan in the Tokugawa period, when rival warlords tried to conquer the country. You play one of these warlords, and with the help of your generals you have to conquer Japan.

      The details are fairly accurate and unlike many strategy simulations of the period there is no magic. Instead the troops use accurate "Special attacks" like rifles, artillery and cavalry charges. As the general you control the battlefield from an overview, telling your troops where to go, when the attack and when to use specials. When a special ability or an attack goes off, the view zooms into the battle itself, letting you see the effects of your decisions. The control system is easy to use, although scrolling through every unit to reach the one you want to give orders to can get tedious in larger battles.

      The game gives you a wide range of options to choose from before the battle, including trying to recruit enemy generals to your cause, commit acts of sabotage and negotiate. In some ways this may be too complex for a casual gamer as it requires some planning to make best use of. This is not a game you can win by charging in unprepared. Troop types need to be considered carefully when launching an attack e.g. charging cavalry against infantry is only effective if you can be sure they aren't riflemen.

      At the time of release the game's graphics were strong. However it has slightly dated, and while good looking shortcuts like black backgrounds behind characters are now painfully obvious. The sprites have also begun to date, but not so badly that it affects play. Most of the game is played on the world map where you tell your troops what to do, and then they perform it, although specific attacks have cut scenes that show the effects. The sound effects put you right in the heart of the action during these sequences.

      While this game isn't purely text-based, be prepared to do a lot of reading when between battles you need to handle the prep and set up of your troops. If you enjoy strategy and planning games, Kessen is addictive, and the replay value is high. It is easy to loose track of time while playing and the battles can take a couple of hours to complete. Having finished it repeatedly, the many different strategies available mean the game remains a challenge. The game did spawn sequels, but both moved away from the purely strategy based view of Kessen, leaving this game unique as a full strategy game on the PS2.

      In general, this game is aimed at hardcore strategy players and will be less appreciated by people who prefer more personal involvement in the battles.

      (This is an update of my CIAO review)

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      23.09.2001 01:49
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      The History: The first impression playing to Kessen is to assist to a interactive film, in which you must dress the noble clothes of Tokugawa Ieyasu; you must fight against Mitsunori Nishida, with the object to re-unite entire Japan under an only flag; everything during the XVI century. The game: After to have assisted to a long presentation, you will begin the first battle, a tutorial that will instruct to you the commandos of the actions to execute and the actions to carry out. Every single troop has special movements, you can do some of them during the battle, others also during you are approaching to the enemy, from the simple launch of arrows to a heavy and harmful attack with batteries of guns with which you will bring sure large losses to the opposing troops. With the exception of other titles them of the sort in Kessen you will not be called to build up encampments or to construct strategic bases, but to only select it generates them and the alignments to use, planning the tactics and the strategies of attack, in the classic section that precedes every crash. The phase of game will be able to appear initially much hard to you, above all when you are forced to command various troops on the battlefield, but will soon learn to give importance to the messages that the commanders of the single alignments will send you, in order to avoid useless losses of men or to send to the slaughter troops in obvious numerical inferiority or with alignment and tipology of warriors it does not appropriate you to those the adversary. The battles are developed much articulating, therefore never not will be that you will find again yourself defeated, only why six state overwhelmed in one crash of secondary importance. This involves a continuous one to ollow itself of situations on the scene with commanders who withdraw or send to load respect alignments to you. It's the classic game in which they will be obtained turns out to you making muc
      h attention to first tutorial demonstrates and not give up to the first difficulties, than sure they will be met.

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        05.07.2001 03:30
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        Strategy games have had something of a mixed history on consoles. Joypads have never offered the ideal solution to control army units. The PC remains the traditional home of strategy, just as consoles are the traditional home of 3D beat 'em ups. One of the best strategy titles of the last year is EA's Shogun: Total War, a game focusing on the Japanese civil conflicts of the late sixteenth/early seventeenth centuries. EA has returned to the period with Koei's Kessen, but can this console game succeed where so many have failed in the past? The main focus of Koei's game is the conflict between the Eastern Army of Ieyasu Tokugawa and the Western Army of Mitsunari Ishida. The story of the conflict is well told through an impressive intro sequence. Some of the battles that take place in the game occur several years apart so the story is updated via cutscenes throughout the game. Battles take place in two forms. Some a meeting engagements that start immediately from the story setting. Others are large scale planned battles that give both sides an opportunity to select units, choose a strategy and place units on the battlefield. There are several ways of viewing the battlefield. The L2 button gives a choice of two 2D maps of the conflict, one a larger scale than the other. The main screen shows a 3D view of the battlefield that can be zoomed and rotated with the analog sticks. Units appear as blocks of color (red for the East, blue for the West) though some movement can be discerned and moving units raise dust in their wake. Onscreen windows show the makeup, status and zeal of a unit when the cursor is passed over it. Two more views are available when a unit is engaged in battle. The first is a slightly zoomed in view showing an ariel view of the conflict, individual units can be seen racing into battle. Zoom in further and you get a close up view of the action, hundreds of soldiers fighting hand to hand. <
        br> Zeal is an important aspect to the battles. It is gained by success in combat or by the commander of the whole army using a Rally option. When units fight the battle is highlighted with a brighter patch in the 3D map view. If zeal rises over 80 percent the unit can make a Special Maneuver. These are the most fun element of the game and these special moves include rifle volleys, cannon fire, arrow volley, or cavalry charge. Other special moves include the ability to avoid and escape conflict as well as varyiations on a theme depending on the sort of artillery or soldiers the unit possesses. Launching one of these maneuvers treats the player to a 3D representation of, for example, the cannons firing and the impact on the enemy. Windows show how many troops either side has lost during the move and the effect on both side's zeal. Each Special Maneuver uses a certain amount of zeal. Sometimes one of these events will destroy a depleted enemy unit which will in turn raise the zeal of the whole army, opening Special Maneuvers to other units. Each unit has a limit on the number of particular Special Maneuvers it can make during in a battle based on experience and unit types. For example a cavalry unit may have 3 Cannonades, 2 Flying Volleys, 2 Charges and 4 Escapes that can be used in a battle. At the end of the battle a unit is rewarded and these numbers will rise. Correct management of zeal is incredibly important to success. Your generals may sometimes disagree with an order and even if they carry it out the zeal will fall. It is sometimes better to pull a unit out of a conflict to rest and regain zeal. A close watch must be made on the generals, through cutscenes in and out of the battle you will learn a lot of their character, life story and motivations. Generals can change sides, in fact before battles you can ask enemy generals to stay out of the conflict or change sides based on given loyalty details. Man mana
        gement and politics can play an important part in events, it's a pleasing addition to the usual battlefield events. If all this seems a little complicated, don't worry. Kessen features one of the best learning curves I've seen in a game. Eschewing a tutorial mode, the game instead makes control of the early battles limited. Help windows guide the player through the actions in the first battle and limit control to moving the units once in battle. A few battles later the political strategy elements are explained and integrated into the game. Later the ability to set up the battles, place units and give pre-battle orders are added. Therefor the player is never asked to do too much too soon. Each new complication is introduced in a separate battle. The sublime gameplay is complimented by some great graphics. Admittedly much of the time the player will be using the 3D overall view which is functional rather than pretty. But the rendered and game-engine cut scenes are gorgeous. The Special Maneuver views and close up battle views are fantastic, highly detailed shots of cavalry pounding across the hills are gobsmacking. The sonic aspects of the game are something of a mixed bag. The music played by the Moscow International Symphonic Orchestra is stirring and suitably epic, possibly the best music featured in a game for a while. The sounds of war are equally atmospheric. Unfortunately the voice acting is less pleasing. The acting is pretty good, but the accents are all wrong. EA really should have obtained the services of English speaking Japanese actors rather than the American it chose. The effect of these American actors is at best unintentionally funny and at worst damn annoying. If you've ever seen the move Ghengis Kahn starring John Wayne (yes it's a real movie) you know exactly the kind of effect I'm describing. I really enjoyed playing Kessen. Hardcore strategy isn't for everyon
        e but the game includes enough eye-candy to entice the casual player. It's unusual, but a welcome change, to see a strategy game of such depth on a console. To some extent Kessen reminded me a little of eighties Cinemaware classic Defender of the Crown in that a strategy game was dressed up with classy artwork and battle graphics. Experience strategy fans won't take long to finish the campaign, but that's just the beginning. The player is then given the opportunity to play the conflict through again playing as the Eastern army. This is no mere rehash of previous battles as the second campaign also contains cutscenes and plotting at the same level as the Western Army campaign. For those with the urge to play something other than action games on their PS2 it's an ideal change from the norm. It also proves how versatile the console is.

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        01.07.2001 05:23

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        14.05.2001 04:37
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        To be honest and completely whole with you, I would not recommend this game to a non-strategic gamer. It doesn't appeal to the masses and whilst playing you don't feel in control but more like the game is controlling everything. It is a very dull, boring game and that is one of the reasons why I returned it to the shop of where I purchased it. If you enjoy strategy games and have great patience, then it may appeal to you. The graphics, however, are excellent, and the sound is very boring. It has bad game playability and it doesn't the touch of addiction as other games, like SSX or Smuggler's run. Overall, I found this game to be very boring and it was very much over-estimated. It was nothing like I expected it to be, so take that into consideration if you're thinking about buying Kessen 2. I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND IT, BUT IT IS YOUR CHOICE!

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          06.04.2001 01:20
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          Kessen is an incredible game from the graphics to the historically sound story-line. Boasting the best graphics of any PS2 game to date Kessen is an experience not to be missed. The game's in-depth historical story elaborates on some of Japan's most famous battles, such as sekigahara, and adds it own twists based upon your level of success. The first time through, the game is very easy. However, the game will challenge your knowledge of strategy and can be very difficult when set to higher levels. The "acting" in the game was entertaining and surprisingly engrossing. Yet, more often than not, the character's actions make you chuckle at the similarity to old kurasawa movies. The voice acting well done and quite fun. Sadly, Kessen was far too short, that was, in my opinion, was the biggest flaw. The game should have begun earlier in hisrtory and culminated with sekigahara instead of beginning with the most important battle. Even after playing through the game two or three times, you crave more action. The game offers only a limited system of customization and improvement that could be improved. Despite these pitfalls, Kessen stands alone as a superb game that every PS2 owner should play at least once. Hopefully Kessen II will overcome these flaws and rival it's predecessor as the greatestest game on the Playstation 2.

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            27.03.2001 20:45
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            Kessen is a war strategy game set in ancient Japan during the Togugawa era. You control one side of a dynasty in your attempts to defeat all who oppose you. The game is laid out so that you get an introduction (or cut-scene) and then are taken to a top down view of the battle field where the outcome is decided. During which you have pretty much total control over your armies. Except when they decide they don't like what you're doing (and they'll tell you! hehe). I found this game really hard going. The thing everyone raves about this game is that theres 200+ horses with riders on screen at once battling it out. Well yes, that's true, but it does make things very difficult indeed. The game eases you in by teaching you new features (such as rotating the camera, selecting your current squadron etc...) but once that's over you're on your own :) I found it very difficult to maintain 6 different battles at once. The cut scenes, although very nice, can sometimes get in the way when you're about to attack an enemy - yes the cut-scenes appear mid-battle. This game is definately not going to appeal to everyone. Even if you liked Command & Conquer then I'd seriously research or borrow this game first before shelling out your cash on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a bad game. It is very good at what it does :) It just requires a high level of concentration. Something I like to leave at work! :)

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              18.02.2001 22:45
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              I rented kessen from my local store as i thought i might like it. The reason i thought this was because i am a big fan of red alert and the command and conquer series, and i thought it looked simular to these. The game is set along time ago in Japan and is about the civil war between the east and west. You take control of the east and you have to overcome the west in long, hour taking battles. You have different leadsers for each of your groups. At the start you have to go through a very long and boring tutorial. This takes you through your first battle and shows you how to set up battles. The tutorial takes ages and by the end i was almost asleep. In the game the only exciting things are canon attacks and barriges. When you fight all u do is tell them to fight and they run together and mix. THe second mission took me about two hours. Altough i am slagging it off, the one good thing about it is the graphics are superb! The people look superb and some good music goes with it aswell. I advise ps2 owners not to buy this game as games like red alert are much better. I don't know whether Japanese people like this as it is a reconstruction of there civil war, but if it was a reconstruction of our civil war i wouldn't buy it. The is no options like which troops you get or nothing they are all the same. Don't buy it!!!!!!

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                17.01.2001 21:44
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                Kessen is not a game that will appeal to the masses. It's no Tekken, it's not even a Metal Gear Solid. What it is, however, is an excellent tabletop war strategy simulator. Each battle can take hours to complete, and you dont have direct control over your soldiers. Instead, action is viewed from a field that you rotate, with little groups of units scattered around. You can switch to a map view, or zoom right into the action. You essentially command an army of 1000s marching across medieval Japan during a significant period in their history, fighting as either the East or West,, in a quest for supreme domination. A guided tutorial takes you through the basics to begin with, helping you through two campaigns, from the planning stages through to the actual battle. The elements that satisfy are plentiful - launching attacks that are successful, heading off and pursuing enemies, withstanding their strategies. You issue your commands to your units, who then proceed, in real-time, to enact them. For example - choose a unit, select the action, then point at the target. Depending on the mood and confidence of the commander of that unit, your commands will be actioned. Sometimes it requires moving across the play area - which again, is automatic. When the battles commence, you are treated to some very beautiful pre-calculated sequences (All real-time) with 100s of intricately detailed characters and scenery. The downside to this game is that, take away the in-game cinemas, you are left with little more than a game that most people would leave on the shelves. This is a shame, as given the time investment, it is an engrossing and rewarding game. Forget the flashy movies, it’s the strategy and satisfaction in waging a 2 hour campaign, that rewards. I would highly recommend you rent Kessen first, as it really wont appeal to everyone. Forget it totally if you only enjoy Tekken Tag type in
                stant adrenaline rushes. Try Dynasty Warrior instead if that is the case (also from Koei).

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              • Product Details

                Published by EA and developed by KOEI, Kessen is an RTS (Real TIme Strategy) game that puts you in control of Ieyasu Tokugawa, where you pit your armies against those of Mitsunari Ishida.