A revamp to be proud of! The new features take much of what was crappy in the previous game and turn it around! But...
Characters have been given more flesh (the ones with a story mode anyway) and an interesting makeover, as usual, but much more interesting than previous installments.
The story mode is more immersive; each character's story mode has a whooping 5-6 personal cutscenes in it, and the role of the player character seems more prevalent than in previous (and numerous) story modes.
New features also include: Climbing ladders, swimming, and more. Scaling walls by help of ladders make siege stages much easier, and swimming allows for more interesting gameplay.
The graphics are breathtaking compared to previous installments. It truly feels as if you areactually there laying siege to Hu Lao Gate.
The way in which you take over camps (bases) makes more sense now; rather than killing a gatekeeper and camp captain (attack/defense/supply type), you wail away at the gate until it breaks, and kill corporals and privates until a number at the top of screen (probably indicating the remaining enemy force in the camp) reaches zero.
And...did I mention Diao Chan's new design? Hot damn!
However, even with these vast improvements (such as getting Cao Cao's name right for once), it comes off as an incomplete game.
There are only 5 stories for each kingdom, depicting the story of characters whose stories long time fans like me have experienced a million times already - and two stories for the ones outside of kingdoms, Diao Chan and Lu Bu, whose stories, thank God for that, actually do have something new to offer.
Characters without stories also have very little variation in weaponry; their three weapon types (skill/speed/strength) all have the exact same design, many characters share almost the exact same movesets, etc. It's barely worth playing a whole lot of the characters without stories, because they play the same, and leveling up to find better weapons is not rewarding at all.
Also, some characters are missing entirely: Da Qiao, Pang De, Jiang Wei, Meng Huo and Zhu Rong.
All in all it is a vast improvement, but an incomplete improvement. It is creatively done, but perhaps a bit offly so.
It's loads of fun, but it could have been so much more.