Developed by The Creative Assembly
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Released: Out Now
Total War was a very special game indeed. Taking the unprecedented
step of combining real time battles with turn based strategy the
game was virtually perfect in every war. Players had glorious 3D
battles with hundreds of units on screen and in the turn based strategy
section they had an unbelievable amount of depth to handle and very
sharp AI, with which to battle their wits against. Most gamers could
only point to the lack of a campaign mode as a multiplayer option
as being the solitary disappointment with the game. After a successful
expansion pack for Shogun, The Mongol Invasion, the developers turned
their attention to the middle ages and finally, two years after
the release of Shogun Total War, we have the sequel, Medieval Total
looking at the screenshots you'd be forgiven for thinking that this
game is simply Shogun in Medieval attire. Indeed on first appearances
the similarity is remarkable, but deceiving. From the first few
moments of play however, the illusion of similarity is smashed to
pieces. Shogun's gameplay became intense very quickly with rival
factions going for your throat at the earliest possible opportunity.
Medieval is an entirely different kettle of fish. When you begin
the campaign game you are given the option of three starting dates.
There's Early (1087) High (1205) and Late (1321) periods for you
to choose from. Should you choose Early or High as your starting
points then you're in for a more drawn out game than Shogun could
ever offer. You'll also have a choice of what your goals are to
be in order to win. You can either choose Domination as your goal,
which requires you to conquer two-thirds of the provinces or you
can choose Glorious achievements which expects you to keep control
of the homelands (the provinces you began the game with) as well
as meet some other specific goals. There are 12 factions for you
to choose from and they all play uniquely and have their own special
units. Each faction modifies the games' difficulty so if you pick
a faction such as the Polish for instance, the game will be slightly
harder whereas the Almohads are slightly easier to play with.
Medieval Total War the management of your finances is of absolute
paramount to all of your objectives. Trade plays a key role, as
does improving the farmland in your provinces so that the income
is as high as possible. Of course you can raise taxes but this can
cause unrest and might even trigger a revolt toward you. Without
the all important florins to support your armies, and provide adequate
defensive structures, you will always be susceptible to attacks
and also be hampered in your bid to take more provinces.
generals are also playing a more important part this time around.
In Medieval they have traits that can be altered by events that
occur during a game. They have ratings for influence, loyalty, piety,
dread, command and acumen. These are all self-explanatory, except
maybe for piety. Piety shows the weight the general gives to his
religious beliefs. Considering that religion also plays a significant
part in the game, this is important. Generals also have vices and
virtues. Some of the vices may be kept secret and you'll have to
investigate them with a spy to find out what they are. It's worth
remembering that your troops are influenced by what they think of
their general and if you have a right scallywag their morale will
not be very good either.
is a major factor in this game. The factions all have their own
religious persuasion whether it be Catholic, Orthodox or Muslim.
If you control a Catholic country for instance you have to be careful
with any aggressive moves toward any other Catholic factions. Should
the Pope be upset with your actions you run the risk of Excommunication
which means that the Pope could launch a crusade against you which
would cause you untold damage. Just as Catholic factions can launch
crusades, so can Muslim factions launch Jihads which are essentially
the same things except Jihads are concerned with the reclamation
of once Muslim lands.
are plenty of gameplay modes on offer in Medieval Total War. There's
the main campaign, quick battle (options are chosen for you), historical
battles and historical campaigns are both based around key points
of medieval history and give you a chance to fight key historic
battles. The historic campaigns are based around the careers of
important generals. The multiplayer game is again battles only,
so those of you (me included) who were waiting for a full multiplayer
campaign will be disappointed. There is also a very easy to use
map editor that enables you to create unique terrain to use in battles.
as Shogun was fine for deaf gamers, so is Medieval. All information
in the game is given in clear, easy to read text. One disappointment
though is that all the verbal information in the tutorials is not
given in text but thankfully all the important information and instructions
are given in text. The manual is rather thin on the ground when
it comes to information. This game needs a manual that goes into
great detail. Thanks to the DVD style packaging and dare I say it
the lucrative strategy guide market, the manual provided leaves
a lot to be desired.
the game is virtually identical to Shogun. The game's turns are
one year each (in Shogun they were a season each so there were four
to the year) so you don't get the seasonal weather like you had
in Shogun. This is compensated for by the varying terrain such as
the deserts in North Africa. What is disappointing is the lack of
unit variation on the strategy map. Like Shogun it is still impossible
to see what the armies are made up of without clicking on them.
The board game type pieces on the strategy map actually look quite
poor by today's standards too. This is a minor niggle though and
doesn't detract from the excellent gameplay that this title offers.
Total War will thoroughly impress fans of Shogun Total War. There
are so many new gameplay elements that we can't go into them all
otherwise the review would be five times as long, suffice to say
that the overall effect is excellent. Creative Assembly have refined
the basics that they had with Shogun and added a wealth of improvements
to the gameplay. Unless something really special is released before
the end of the year what we have here is the finest strategy game
that you can currently purchase.
Game Rating: 9.5/10 Quite
simply breath taking. It just isn't possible to do the game justice
in a review. Fans of Shogun or fans of strategy games in general
owe it to themselves to own Medieval Total War.
Some non-essential comments are not subtitled
in the tutorial but otherwise the game is excellent for deaf gamers