I have been following the Total War franchise from its inception based in feudal Japan; Shogun: Total War. Last year the series really grew up with the release of the polished Rome: Total War.
This is what PC gaming is all about, none of your game-pad flinging here. This is deep complex gaming at a number of strategic and tactical levels.
Essentially this is Rome: Total War repackaged in the more exciting medieval time period and enhanced graphically. For fans of the series we still see the turn based strategic maps with – if the player wants to – the action zooming to an exquisite tactical display for a real time battle when required. Still there are no Ship to Ship tactical engagements.
Space does not permit a full examination of the gaming options available during the turn base strategic game, so here is a short summary.
City management, including taxes, riot control, upgrading of town size, religion management and trade.
Agents, such as Spies, Assassins, Merchants, Priests, Diplomats and more.
Direction and Missions received by the Pope as well as the odd Crusade or two.
Trade, Diplomatic and Religious options to subjugate enemies to your faction without direct conflict.
But what of the real time battles? - see page 2
But when it is time for war, enter the spectacular tactical map. A is a step up from the Rome release. This time around, the maps are larger and more varied – reflecting the actual terrain of the battlefield.
Army units are less rigid this time round, with individuals being represented both graphically – showing slightly different livery from his comrades, and differing animations giving the battles a more one-on-one feel.
There is still the deep strategic requirement placed on the gamer, with unit positioning, facing and match ups all important.
Graphical improvements are also evident in Siege play, with buildings crumbling in a realistic way and siege towers trundling forward under constant bombardment of fiery missiles. Night battles are also now an option, and provide a spectacular setting.
The trademark complexity is there, but don’t be put off if you are a Total War newbie, there are many options you can switch on for automatic management, and the many expert guides will gently prod you in the right direction – having said that, domination of Europe will not be easy, which is as it should be. An excellent addition to your PC collection.