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Empire: Total War Review
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|
Rome: Total War, you could say it was both a great addition to the Total War series and a turning point for the strategy genre. Creative Assembly introduced something new and interesting, literarily changing the way we perceived real-time strategies. On a personal note, playing RTW was the first time I felt like I was actually taking charge of my own legions in an epic and impressively presented historical battle. The developers took a few steps further with Medieval II: Total War, which proved to be as entertaining as RTW. For the first time ever, the Total War series allows you to build and protect your own empire throughout the 18th century. The scope of the game is just amazing and you'll be facing many powerful nations, while dealing with a variety of challenges such as economics, religion, politics, exploration, colonization and naturally conquest. Once you dig into the main single-player campaign, you'll be blown away by the amount of tasks that lie ahead.
Nobody touches my island!
Nobody touches this island either!
Ruling an empire is an extremely arduous endeavor, often leading to a wide range of unforeseen problems. Coping with that won't be a piece of cake when you're simultaneously fighting a war, trying to establish a stable economy, ensuring your citizens are content and that your key cities are advanced well-protected. It can cause quite a few headaches actually. If you take the time to think through each action carefully you can easily become a master tactician, whether you prefer diplomacy or full-on confrontation or a combination of both. At any rate, diplomacy frequently fails with stubborn and overconfident factions, so don't hesitate to speed the process up a little by sending your armies and agents into action. That's the real beauty of this game. You set yourself goals and you're never limited to just one or two approaches. Most of your plans are made via the tactical map (i.e. the turn-based portion of the game), where enemies also take action according to their needs.
Expanding your territory means greater prosperity, but also potential trouble if you don't take time to properly subdue the conquered populace. One of the best things to do is to use agents like missionaries to convert the masses in to avoid potential rebellion. Advancing your nation involves a significant amount of planning, especially from a financial point of view. The newly fitted tech tree feature allows you to do this. It's essential to make progress in three fields: philosophy, industry and military. Need dictates how and when to improve upon these facets. It often proves useful to combine your political and military efforts in order to achieve goals more quickly.
The greatest innovation in Empire: Total War comes with the freshly incorporated naval battles. Not only do the battles look great, they are immensely enjoyable too. The developers obviously made this real-time segment of the game as best they could, although the controls aren't as intuitive as they could've been. Anyhow, what players should keep in mind is that fighting at sea can have tremendous influence on the economy; for instance, if you send your fleet to block trade-routes or intercept enemy ships to clear the path for your own purposes.
In terms of the turn-based portion, the AI puts up a decent fight, but may not always seem like it knows what it's doing. Powerful nations don't always have the guts to spread their territory across the map, even when they clearly have the advantage. Likewise, weaker countries may sometimes declare war when they should be cowering beneath the might of nearby empires, looking for the best possible option to kiss ass. Don't write this off as a major flaw. All in all, I'd say that the campaign well-balanced to provide a solid challenge, both for newbies and experienced Total War players.
8.7 Very Good
An incredibly deep and immersive strategy game, equally appealing to Total War fans and new-comers;
AI glitches, performance issues.