Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Dec 13th 2013 at 07:08:09 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Total War, empire, napoleon, sega, creative assembly

Empire: Total War

We have not ventured out of Europe in quite some time, so with Empire the idea was focused on the Eurocentric days of colonialism and early imperialism. Outside of Spain, England, and France most main campaign countries have little outside of Europe and the Near East. Empire is nothing if not ambitious.

The game differs in the previous fare by greatly enlarging the sheer scope of the entire game. You can conquer everything from the Rocky Mountains to the far Eastern edge of India. But there is still plenty of war to be had in all of these theaters.

Thankfully, The Creative Assembly not only put the campaign of the Americas and India but also factions native to this area. Well, you can play as the Maratha in their early years before they displaced the Mughals in India.Native American tribes are added to the game through the game's DLC expansion, The Warpath. This adds playable Iroquois, Cherokee, Huron, Pueblo, and Plains nations on a smaller map focused on North America.

Some changes occur on the campaign map in this release. Villages dot the countryside, and more are built as prosperity increases and time passes. These villages are specialized. Coastal villages can be turned into ports, inland villages can become farms or take advantage of local or imported resources for industry. Schools can be used for research.

Now let's talk about some major gameplay changes that this entry to the series brought to the fray. First and foremost is the introduction of personally controlled naval battles. Before Empire all naval battles could only be auto-resolved, now you can take control of your ship-of-the-lines, sloops, galleys, and other cannon based ships to victory against other nations.

A research tree is added to the game too. Any faction which controls a school is allowed to use it to research their way up the tech tree. Each school can focus on one technology until they're all gone, which takes a long time.

As a result of these changes there were tweaks to the agent system as well. One of the most useful is the Gentleman.

Gentlemen can quite politely duel other Gentlemen to the death, with fairly foppish wigs, frilly clothes, and inaccurate pistoles indeed. They are best used by garrisoning them inside a school to increase your research points, or decrease research time is another way of putting it.

Rakes are hybrid spies and assassins. You can use them as everything spies used to do, as well as sabotage and assassinate leaders. These names change based upon factions, so Muslim factions refer to Rakes as Hashashin, while the Marathans call them Thugee.

Missionaries are the game's religious unit. For Christian kings these can take one of three forms, Catholic, Orthodox, or the quite new and wildly spreading ideal, Protestants. Muslims still use the Imam while the Marathans use the Brahmin.

Gameplay is changed quite incredibly, as the focus is still primarily on the tactics of the military battles. Now; instead of like Shogun and both Medieval games where gunpowder is a late game, expensive, and still unexplored deployment of soldiers, gunpowder units are available from the start and special care must be placed on any melee units. Still, Native Warriors and Pikemen can be worth it in the early game, pikes especially to push back cavalry. Native Warriors are quite fast and powerful in ambushes against gunpowder units, making them worth the investment in the Americas. Also, instead of more long term siege equipment like catapults, battering rams, and burrowing sappers you now have plenty of cannons at your disposal to blast walls and gates down quite quickly.

While it seems like Empire is a great game while describing its changes, setting, and what it adds to the fore of Total War seems appealing at face value and based on my explanations it has many problems. The game released with all kinds of technical issues, and many remain unresolved to this day (mods are the best fixes). It remains quite unoptimized, and runs at 25-40 fps on my PC at the campaign map, let alone battles. Because of many of the bugfixes this is one of the only games in the series where DarthMod is recommended above all others. Richard Beddow was the composer for Empire: Total War, breaking Jeff van Dyck's winning streak.

The game was quite simply rushed. While almost every Total War launch has been horrid and unbelievably bad the games usually end up in playable states by the time the final patch hits. While Empire is playable it is debatable about whether it is enjoyable. One of the reasons it was rushed is due to it having a brand new engine, Warscape, which is still the engine in use in the latest release. While Sega purchased The Creative Assembly after Rome was finished the bad management and forced rushed development cycle was not felt until Empire. Empire could have been so much more, but it was not meant to be.

Napoleon: Total War

I'm not entirely sure what there is to say about Napoleon. In terms of timeline it is the most recent Total War game, taking place in the early 19th Century and following the campaigns of the namesake, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon feels like what Empire should have been, but this game only focuses on the European theater from Spain and North Africa all the way to Russia and Persia. Much of what I warned about at the end of the Empire review has been fixed and/or polished for Napoleon. Outside of hardcore Empire fans most of the Total War fanbase will agree that Napoleon is the better of these two installments, even if it is not one of their favorites.

One of the main complaints about Napoleon is that it feels more like an expansion pack that was released at full retail. Pretty much everything remains the same at face value in Napoleon compared to Empire.

Napoleon allows you to follow the leader's campaigns from his early years to his reign as Emperor of France in a series of smaller, mini campaigns. There's not much to be said about Napoleon that hasn't been already been mentioned above in the Empire review.

Next time: We return to the Land of the Rising Sun and travel far to the West to conquer in the name of Roma once more.

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