Empire: Total War [Review]
Empire: Total War is a Real Time/Turn-Based strategy hybrid. It was released on March 3rd, 2009 for the Windows PC and September 13th, 2012 for OSX. The PC version was developed by The Creative Assembly and published by Sega while the OSX version was developed and published by Feral Interactive; both versions use the Warscape engine. The game includes well developed single player and multiplayer components.
So what is a player presented with when they dive in? They find a game that almost seems to be 2 games in one. One of these is a turn-based strategy game much like the Civilization series that centers on the ruler of an 18th century nation that can conquer their neighboring countries through military might, diplomacy, spies and many other forms of political powers. This turn based strategy portion focuses on military combat as the primary form of taking over other countries. Next is the RTS element, which is extremely well developed. This game mode takes the player from the throne of their empire and puts them into the boots of their armies’ commander, issuing orders to his troops directly. This RTS mode allows for massive in-depth strategy, from putting all your hope into a flanking cavalry charge to bombing the enemy to death with experimental cannons. Players are presented with many different battlefields as well, ranging from cities and towns to open plains and mountain passes. The terrain becomes a huge factor when entering combat : a general must put his cannon into a position with line of sight to the enemy or cannon balls will simply bounce off the ground.
Another level of immersion attributed to the Warscape engine are the visuals. The game is beautiful: night time battles are flashes of gun and cannon fire, and buildings catch fire and are destroyed from in-game action. The shouts and screams of men in battle can pull you in for a moment, but don’t let your dying men distract you from an incoming cavalry charge! The extensive detail sets this one apart from any other; zooming all the way in on a hand to hand combat, you can even see that the combatants are striking one another and not just the general vicinity of the enemy unit. Unfortunately this does not translate out into the turn-based map. While the visuals are on the same level of beauty, there is awkward pathing when too many units go to the same area, and many times units marching across different terrains will start to look bad.
The AI engine is no less amazing. It isn’t stuck on one strategy to get to victory. It will react to you, send in a cavalry charge and it will put its troops into a square formation to lighten the damage. Use artillery to no end and the enemy will charge your guns, or try to take them out with cavalry. It’s almost like another living breathing general controlling your opponent. Unfortunately, when fighting other real generals in the multiplayer component, there isn’t much change from the AI. Of course player skill comes into it, but there aren’t any interesting reasons to play multiplayer. There is very little incentive besides the want or need to defeat live players in combat.
In short, it’s the great visuals, great AI and powerful engine that earn this game its rating of 4.5. Empire: Total War is currently selling in retail stores and on Steam for $14.99 USD.
1570 Views // June 30, 2013