What makes Iron Triangle a true time sink, though, is the way nearly everything has basic checks and balances. Forget about trying to amass a ton of troops and rush a base. It might work early on once, but nearly everyone has some kind of support system in place, meaning attacking a rival clan incurs their wrath and that of their allies. It's not an exaggeration to say this is a multiple hundred hour game. Think about that for a second: you can play this game, non-stop, for months on end and still not finish all the stuff in the main Unification Mode alone. There's still the smaller-scale Local and no-save Challenge Modes to play around with too.
No, this is not a quick game, but it's hard to actually put into words how much of a rush it is to capture an enemy base on one end of the map while defending one of your own and brokering peace with a third and threatening yet another clan into submission all at the same time. Few games offer the kind of constant management (kept under relative control by allowing you to flick between all your bases and see things like how many officers are free at each of them by using the L1/R1 buttons and glancing down at the bottom of the screen) without feeling out of control like Iron Triangle. That even the most basic thing like building a farm so you can harvest more food at the end of the season (consumed every time you do anything with your troops) or more shops or a trading post to gain more gold (used for everything from trading to bribes to building stuff) first requires that you have to build the necessary starting area first means everything must be planned out. No, it's not for everyone, but those without an overabundance of ADD will find the game gives almost constantly.
It doesn't, however, look especially amazing. Sure, the little transitions between seasons are a nice touch (everything gets a blanket of snow, for instance, when heading into the winter), but most of it is a fairly low-res clump of clumsily-moving units or barely detailed little structures. Fights are a woefully bland affair, though by the time you're a dozen or so hours in the game, you'll hardly ever watch a whole fight play out because you could be doing something else. I had my gripes with the non-waypointed AI, which would have all units try the same gates when surrounding a base even if there was already a unit there (leaving the last guy to bump into every gate in order until it found a proper one), but when the game looks this bland anyway, it's the least of the game's visual issues.
The audio, though, is a little more solid. There was nothing in the way of translation done, but for a game that takes place in feudal Japan, that's entirely acceptable -- even expected -- and the game's brilliant traditional music never really gets old despite looping over and over again for the hundreds of hours you'll spend with things. The battle cries, cheers, clanks, explosions and so on also do the trick, but they aren't going to amaze anyone.
Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle is a great game. Not a good game, not a good-for-a-console-strategy-effort game, but an honest-to-goodness great game. That said, it's also an intensely strategic one, a game that will absolutely take you dozens of hours just to finish the first scenario. In fact, just to see what would happen, I edited all the officers in a clan, flipped over to Local Mode and picked them, then let the game auto-play and even at the end of the day nothing had really happened. That's the kind of time scale the game operates on, but for those with a healthy amount of patience, the rewards are numerous and well worth the effort.