Once again establishing themselves as leaders in the sim/strategy genre (back at the time), Koei comes up with an amazing turn-based strategy/resource management game featuring major players and events of the American Revolutionary War.
Available For: Genesis, PC, SNES (reviewed)
Release Date: 1993
Archetype: Historical, Turn-based strategy, Simulation
It’s been a while since I played this game, so it may be hard for me to remember everything. Thankfully, I have both Wiki and GameFAQs to help fill in the blanks. I was hoping I would have enough time to really sit down and play it some more, but I wanted to focus on getting this review out today specifically because it’s election day.
So back in the day Koei was known primarily for making various strategy sim games. Among the more popular titles were games like Aerobiz, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and P.T.O. Strangely, Liberty or Death is one title that most people overlook and I say strangely because it operates almost exactly like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but it attempts to detail the American Revolutionary War.
You can choose from 6 of the different commander-in-chiefs at the time, 3 from the American Continental Army and 3 from the British Army. Among them are George Washington, Artemas Ward, and Charles Lee for the Americans and Thomas Gage, Sir Henry Clinton, and William Howe for the British Army. In fact, there are even appearances in the game from such political leaders such as Lord North, William Pitt the Younger, Patrick Henry, and John Adams.
And while the game has received constant praise for being historically accurate, that’s not the main selling point in my opinion. No, the main selling point is all the different features at hand that you would not only have had to contend with back then as commander-in-chief, but also the fact that it really is a massively streamlined version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Now, I keep coming back to this because RotTK was one of my favorite strategy/sim games from back in the day, specifically the second in the series. Whether it was historically accurate or not is irrelevant to me because it was more about the look and feel of the game as well as how streamlined the menu system was to allow for a game that literally anybody could pick up and play, but was incredibly difficult to master.
How this translates to Liberty or Death is that of features. First of all, yes, you are managing a major war and therefore wartime strategy and preparation on a monthly basis, but you are also having to maintain a military budget as set out by your particular side (Continental Congress or British Parliament), meeting quarterly to set out how the budget will work in coming months.
You also have to manage a sort of public relations route as well, as when the people are unhappy they will undoubtedly try to vote your ass out of office. Another interesting aspect that I absolutely didn’t remember because I probably didn’t even bother to investigate this while playing initially is Patriot and Loyalist militia regiments and German mercenary regiments.
According to Wiki, these affiliates will fight and collect resources on their own, but can be recruited. Apparently if a regular commander for their side moves into the district then said militia units will place themselves under the commander’s authority if he is at or higher in rank, which provides an immediate boost to the commander’s ranks overall.
And of course, there are battles. Yes, there will be MANY battles and battles and battles. They’re presented on a hex-based map complete with different types of terrain that may change due to weather conditions and what have you. And there are all kinds of different units, both standard ground and navy. Naturally, there are a number of other things I’ve probably forgotten about combat, but you can pretty much fill in the blanks, especially if you’ve played the RotTK games.
Honestly, there really isn’t a whole lot else to say without completely plagiarizing Wiki completely. Liberty or Death may not be for everyone, but it is a fine strategy/sim title that’s not only historically accurate, but very fun and challenging as well. For those that get into these types of games, you’ll be instantly hooked and will likely play it many times over. Highly recommended.