Empire: Total War

The 18th century was one of monumental change. It ushered in an age of sustained European colonialism, revolutions in America and France and ultimately a vast and almost constant amount of warfare.

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  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Changes in the strategic realm are mostly positive, shift to 18th century done largely well, excellent visuals, good multiplayer.

Cons

  • AI is stupid, buggy and prone to crash, American campaign isn't all that fun

Bottom Line

GamePro's local historical wartime buff Andrew enjoyed this promising, if flawed Total War title, and totes it as the best one in the series, even with its problems.

Would you buy this?

The 18th century was one of monumental change. It ushered in an age of sustained European colonialism, revolutions in America and France and ultimately a vast and almost constant amount of warfare. With this knowledge, it's no surprise then that Creative Assembly has selected this time period for their newest Total War game, and in many ways its one of the best decisions they've ever made as a production studio. However not everything with Empire will please fans.

Louis XVI, not Peter the Great

War, Totally

While the strategic layer is largely a mess, the tactical section of the Empire: Total War is much better, though it still has its share of problems. As might be expected, the tactical portion of the game has undergone some revisions with the shift to a later time period and the inclusion of new naval battles and fleets. Perhaps most noticeable is the sheer grandiosity of the new tactical battles.

With perspective, this may be the best looking and most realistic portrayal of early modern warfare seen in gaming so far, and it's also the most entertaining of all the Total War games. In Empire, many dynamics are a little more complex than previous games, such as artillery now being a key tactical tool capable of breaking the enemy at the height of battle quite easily. Still, there's no getting around the largely simplistic rock-paper-scissors-esque dynamic: infantry beats cavalry, cavalry beats artillery, artillery beats infantry, etc.

That isn't to say that Empire's tactical combat is boring, as there are many aspects that make it, in many ways, it is the best the series has to offer. The massive new ranged aspect of combat makes the selection of ground more important than in previous games and the inclusion of new features such as garrisoning buildings and putting out field defences allows for more complex battles. The problem is that you just won't get those epic battles in the campaigns all that often, for while the game and its tactical combat shine in single battles and multiplayer, the inability of the strategic AI to form impressive formations largely kills it in the tactical sphere. Moreover, there are some problems with the tactical AI. These are less pronounced than previous games, but players will still notice that the computer will often only send up units in dribs and drabs instead of making general advances and that little notice will be paid towards cavalry units making menacing movements upon the flanks.

Every Total War game is eagerly awaited, and for good reason. Each game in the series has ultimately proven to be an excellent game, usually with at least one good expansion that altogether can provide dozens of hours of good gameplay. Empire proves no different: It's a game that has great potential and with some extra tweaking, could have proven itself an excellent title. For now, Empire: Total War is a fine game, but one that has a heap of problems that need resolving before its worth any more of my time.

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