Love of history starts with a love of good stories. The complexity and doubt come later, when you have heard the same stories so many different ways that the veneer of the Great Men narrative starts peeling away from the foundations of messy, conflicting fact. But that love of a good story never really goes away.
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence [official site] succeeds or fails based on your willingness to hear, and take part in, just such a story. There’s a storybook quality to this game that can prove disarming and captivating even as the game itself can sometimes be so repetitive and straightforward that at times it plays almost like a Facebook strategy game. Like its title character, who scarcely has time for anything but his plans for national unification, Nobunaga’s Ambition has its gaze fixed on the great themes of its era: warfare, diplomacy, family, and betrayal. It’s a little hazy on the details of economy, foreign policy, and tactics.
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