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Empire: Total War Preview
developer: Creative Assembly
PIV 2400, 1GB RAM, 15GB HDD, 256MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Mar 03, 09 (released)
|» All About Empire: Total War on ActionTrip|
After releasing Medieval II: Total War - Kingdoms, an add-on to their excellent real-time strategy, Creative Assembly decided to take the well-known Total War franchise a few steps further with the newly announced strategy, Empire: Total War. Sega and Creative Assembly are presently keeping much of the game under wraps, although they did uncover a few preliminary details.
Empire: Total War marks the fifth addition to the well-established Total War strategy series. As soon as details on the game surfaced, a number of key innovations were underlined. To begin with, they finally decided to include what's long been absent in the series - real-time naval battles (earlier naval combat never evolved from basic "automatic-resolve" battle system on the strategic map). Next off, the game's setting takes players during the Age of Sail, making way for rifles and firearms. Last but not least, the whole game is to utilize a new technology. To recap, gamers will be able to experience a new gameplay mode and a new setting, all of which is being powered by a new engine.
The game's premise stretches across the 18th century, approximately from the
early 1700s to the early 1800s. You'll witness the dawn of the modern world,
which means you are thrown into an era of warfare and widespread upheaval. Empire:
Total War actually covers many significant events and chapters in history, such
as the Seven Years' War, a conflict that spread all over the globe. As the major
European factions begin to expand their power and influence to the far regions
of the world, more nations and civilizations are drawn into the picture. Now,
the attention shifts towards British colonies in India, French colonies in North
Africa, Spanish settlements in the Caribbean and so on. You can also expect
missions and factions from the New World and the US playing a rather important
historical role in it all.
So why choose this setting? According to the makers of Empire: Total War, this age encompasses profound technological advancements, which leaves plenty of room for new warfare and the progress of military science. Not to mention, there are now several highly influential powers, locked in a never-ending struggle for dominance and power. In short, there's enough material in there to guarantee a sufficient amount of content for a strategy game.
Real-time naval battles are regarded as the greatest innovation. These battles may include up to 20 ships engaged in combat. Although that may not sound like a lot, just remember that each ship is sort of similar to regiments and divisions in land-based battles, in the sense that they consist of several hundreds of men. So, you shouldn't worry about real-time battles losing their familiar epic scale.
As sea-based clashes begin, you'll notice there's a wide range of ships at your disposal, each of which has its capabilities, such as speed, firepower and maneuverability. Each game in the Total War license was recognized, amongst other things, for historical authenticity and Creative Assembly intends to follow that tradition, especially when it comes to unit design. As a result, each ship was created to fit its real-life counterpart from that particular age. Players are going to handle ships like the classic frigate as well as a colossal floating fortress with an exceptionally large crew and numerous cannons on board. Tactics are, as always, an important aspect of real-time battles, particularly when you're fighting at sea. So when two fleets collide, combat doesn't just involve firing at your enemy from a distance and hoping for the best. The good news is that you'll be able to use your crew to board enemy vessels, which further increases tactical possibilities.
Sea battles are just the tip of the ice-berg though, with several innovations promised for land battles to boot. Soldiers are, for instance, now able to garrison in buildings, as well as seek cover behind walls - a feature that comes with the game's newly fitted rifle combat. Rifles and more advanced long-ranged weaponry opens the road to a new era of warfare. If you've seen movies like The Patriot, you'll no doubt be familiar with the atmosphere of such battles. Two opposing armies, basically, advanced slowly towards each other, as riflemen fire in the direction of the enemy. Due to the inaccuracy of these weapons, you can expect standard options for close-range battle, featuring melee combat, with bayonet attacks, powerful cavalry charges, etc.
Real-time battles aside, new elements are on the way to help improve the turn-based gameplay mechanics. Of course, with naval battles coming into focus, you can expect a considerably larger strategic map and, as we understand it, strategic AI is most likely to get an overhaul. The system of manipulating armies on the strategic map was given some new touches as well. Experienced Total War players know that assembling huge armies can sometimes be a long and tedious task, before epic battles ensue. This time around, instead of gathering units and marching them halfway across the map, generals assemble units around them. Obviously, such improvements go along with the developers' efforts to tone down on micromanagement and now that naval battles have also come into play, this will surely be a welcomed innovation.
As far as graphics are concerned, Creative Assembly chose not to follow its regular method of upgrading and enhancing earlier engines. The engine running Empire: Total War is completely new, as opposed to Medieval II, which was powered by an enhanced edition of the Rome: Total War engine (similarly, if you can recall, the Shogun: Total War engine was improved for Medieval: Total War).
Unfortunately, we have no release date for you and many features still remain hidden, but given the reputation of the franchise, even at this stage, we are confident this game has a serious shot at making an impact on the RTS scene.
Over the years, Creative Assembly has shown tremendous effort to contribute to the evolution of strategy games and we hope that they'll continue doing so with Empire: Total War.
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