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Empire: Total War review

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  • Recommended by TR
Empire: Total War

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

Platform: PC

Frankly, it's almost too big to review. Give me a month off work and 10,000 words to play with, and I might just be able to give you a final and definitive verdict on Empire: Total War. As things are, you'll have to settle for my honest opinion of the game as I've experienced it, and bear in mind that there are huge sections of The Creative Assembly's latest opus that I've had to leave virtually untouched. More and more I feel that the Total War series isn't just a series of games, but a virtual cathedral to epic strategy, each instalment resting on and building from the foundations, walls and towers put in place by the last. Even for those of us familiar with the series, beginning a new one can be an intimidating business. For anyone new, Empire: Total War might feel terrifyingly detailed and complex.

It doesn't have to be though. Beneath all the features and complex game mechanics, Empire remains a mix of turn-based empire building and real-time strategy, these two elements kept separate but affecting each other throughout the game. In the one half, you're developing your cities, raising and moving armies and sending out agents to spy, sabotage or steal technology on your behalf. You also have to maintain diplomatic relations with allies and rivals, steer scientific progress to develop new military, social and technological assets, and ensure that your economy remains headed in the right direction. When conflict rears its ugly head - and inevitably it will - it's time for the other half of the game to take over. This is the 3D real-time strategy that you'll remember from previous Total War games or the BBC programme Time Commanders; a fast-paced, realistic simulation of warfare featuring dozens of units and thousands of men on the field at any one time.

It's a mix designed to satisfy would-be Bismarcks and would-be Napoleons, and the game cleverly allows you to play the way you like best. Handling both portions gives you the full, rich Total War experience, but if you want to let the AI handle the management of the economy and the society, you can. If you want to let battles resolve themselves and concentrate on the political drama, then that's fine too. If you want, you don't even have to spend a second in the central 'Grand Campaign'; you can just set up your own battles or play the pre-defined scenarios, and just enjoy the sounds of booming cannon, musket-fire and clashing steel.

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Robovski

March 8, 2009, 6:24 am

It looks like a fine game. I say looks because although I've had the game since release (I pre-ordered as I was a fan of the series) I wasn't able to play until this afternoon. Why? Because it requires STEAM activation, and STEAM servers have been too busy every time I've had the time to sit down, get the game install and relax doing my main hobby, gaming. I've wasted days of time I could have been doing relaxing and enjoying myself with what looks to be an excellent game because I actually paid for it. Bravo Sega and STEAM.

stranded

March 8, 2009, 8:19 am

One of the virtual cathedrals. The only real flaw Total War series always have is pathfinding and not very normal unit actions and changing formations in battles, especially in skirmish ones.


"...purveyors of dishwater dull grand strategy games - this is how a modern strategy game should look!" -- nice graphics for sure, BUT the whole image deteriorates without flawless gameplay. Abstract battles of rival games have their charm, with the lack of advanced technology around. Nice try for Empire though, very good game.

Keldon

March 8, 2009, 1:55 pm

I had zero problems with the steam servers, took 15 seconds from start to finish.





I am glad I never bought it on steam, I normally do as I like the "download anytime" service but it was more expensive than the boxed version and it turns out I get the same service.





I thought I could just jump in having played all the previous total war games but it is a big shift!





Off to play the road to independence game now :)

kois30

March 12, 2009, 5:33 pm

this game is soooooooo slow and the load time kills. im running it on a amd phomy 2 X4 940 with 4gb ram and its still slow!!!!!

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