Napoleon Total War PC
Published by: SEGA
Developed by: The Creative Assembly
The Napoleonic era and the battles that were fought in it are special in the eyes of most historians and strategy gamers alike. There have been many games that have concentrated solely on Napoleon and it's only fitting that the legendary Corsican general, who was overly fond of grissini, should have a Total War game dedicated to him.
The game encompasses the period between 1778 and 1815. The first five years of this period is dedicated to the game's tutorial. After the three tutorials (which cover land and naval battles along with the basics of using the campaign map), there are three campaigns to tackle in Italy (1796-1797), Egypt (1798-1800), and Europe (1805-1812). To round off Napoleon's story you also get to engage in the Battle of Waterloo on the 18th June 1815. It's not all about walking in the shoes of Napoleon however. There are four other single-player campaigns to get to grips with. You can play as Russia (1805-1812), Prussia (1805-1813), Great Britain (1805-1812) and Austria (1805-1812). There is also a fine collection of Napoleon's most important battles to try your hand at.
Multiplayer support is more robust in Napoleon Total War. In addition to playing battles online, you can now engage in online campaigns. This is a feature that many have asked for ever since the release of Shogun Total War. As you would expect this can provide a lengthy multiplayer experience and it's great news that games can be saved and continued at a later date. It's also pleasing that you can still tinker with your nations whilst others are taking their turns. To make the most of the online/network campaigns you'll need to find a dedicated group of opponents who are prepared to put the time and effort in but there's no denying that it certainly adds to the Total War experience. Rather intriguingly, you can also opt to allow human players to get in on the action during your single-player campaigns with players taking over the role of the AI and this can certainly add a greater degree of challenge than playing the AI.
Napoleon Total War also has its fair share of new features that help to freshen up the Total War experience. Generals are now of greater importance on the battlefield. They can rally fleeing troops, give morale boosts to those within their proximity and inspire units to achieve more than they would in normal circumstances. The diplomacy options have been tweaked a little to allow you to request allies to break alliances and place trade embargoes on your enemies. Ship repairs can be carried out during naval battles, although this does have the problem of making the ship rather vulnerable whilst repairs are being carried out. You'll also have to consider the affects of attrition, especially during the winter months and the arid conditions of the desert, where your men can succumb to disease or choose to desert. Rather interestingly, for a fee you can even change a building to a different type if the need arises.
Some fans of the Total War series may be a little disappointed with the small time frame the game is based around but in reality this doesn't pose a problem or make it any less of an epic experience than the other games in the series. That said, having only three campaigns where you'll step into the shoes of Napoleon can feel limiting in that everything feels heavily scripted and you can't shape your nation in the same way that you usually can in a Total War campaign. The reasons for this are understandable and the campaigns are still very enjoyable but it has to be said that it could potentially limit their replay factor somewhat. There were some complaints regarding the behaviour of the AI in previous Total War games, particularly on the battlefield. The AI definitely seems better this time around but serious grognards will probably wish that it behaved more realistically at times. On the campaign map the AI probably isn't as aggressive as it could be at times and some odd behaviour can be witnessed with enemy units moving backward and forward without carrying out any purposeful actions.
There have been some visual enhancements made in Napoleon Total War. There are a range of visual effects such as heat haze and dust clouds and mist etc., on the campaign map. There's now an assortment of lighting effects on the campaign map to suit the season, which is a welcome addition. With all these and more visual additions, it's fair to say that Napoleon Total War is graphically impressive. However, to see the game in all of its visual glory you're going to need a beefy PC specification. Having a more modest PC specification, I couldn't set the graphical details above medium but even on these settings the visuals look great for a strategy title. My Nvidia GeForce 8800GT graphics card only has 256MB RAM (a paltry amount by today's standards) and yet I had the game running smoothly thanks to the many configuration options the game provides. Whilst you'll need a powerful PC to have Napoleon Total War looking its best then, it's capable of running well, and looking good, on lower specification PC's which is certainly very impressive.
It was great to see that the option to enable subtitles has been included. You'll get to enjoy the dialogue from the game's campaign cut scenes but oddly enough the rather dramatic introduction to the game, which shows Napoleon himself, isn't subtitled. Comments made by your units as you move them around the campaign map and battlefield are also not subtitled, which is a shame. The game's tutorials are subtitled which certainly helps in allowing newcomers to get to grips with the game. On the battlefield the game uses a variety of icons to keep you informed of unit status. On the whole though the game won't pose any real problems for deaf gamers but it's a shame that not all of the dialogue is subtitled.
Having played all of the Total War games aside from Empire (a game I definitely intend to purchase at some point), I can honestly say that Napoleon Total War is one of my favourites. It is a more focused version of Total War than fans of the series are used to and some may be disappointed by this but in fairness the same could be said for any other strategy game based on Napoleon (and there are many of them). The AI still does some strange things on occasion and only time will tell if future updates sort this out. On the whole however, Napoleon Total War is a fine addition to the Total War series and it's one that no fan of the series will want to miss.