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3.2 out of 5 stars68
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 26 July 2010
I've been a fan of all the TW series, but believe the original Medieval to be the best. I did not purchase Empire as the many reported problems put me off. NTW is certainly a beautifully presented game, and the team who developed it can be justly proud of their efforts. However, I believe there may have been some very bad project management decisions made by one or more "suits of nothing" executives that have prevented the game from being the iconic release it could have been.

First the good news. The game looks fabulous; the details on uniforms and terrain, the little puffs of smoke from gunfire, and even the blossoms floating through the air all add to the experience, and not only that, but it runs very nicely on my modest system that still struggles occasionally with MTW II. Units that are decimated by artillery may have injured soldiers that pull themselves up from the ground and limp back into formation. Horses belonging to dismounted cavalry may run amok across the battlefield. Placing and reforming units is improved. Unit supply and attrition is now covered and works superbly. The naval battle system is one of the best I've seen. A lot of these features may have been present in Empire, but I'm extremely impressed coming straight from MTW II.

However, there are many problems, and although none are critical enough to make NTW a "bad" game, some are extremely irritating.

First, is the abysmal game manual that comes with NTW (Imperial Edition). This is a very complicated game, and many features are not covered by the manual. The tool tips in the game although good are not able to make up for the poor instructions, and after over 100 game hours I am still learning through trial and error the depth of what is possible. Manuals for previous TW releases were generally excellent.

Next are the character voices. I'm sure there are many people who find the idea of clicking on Admiral Nelson and hearing him say "destination ahoy" highly amusing, but after being bombarded by this low-rent comedy for a couple of hours of game time you'll soon find yourself turning the volume off when on the strategic map. It is totally out of step with the sombre historical feel of the rest of the game - who's responsible for it? There is a facility for turning off the character voices in sound options, but it does not appear to work.

The game is also guilty of one of the most serious crimes a strategy game can be accused of; cheating. For example, if you select a cavalry unit, and order it to attack artillery, the enemy cavalry unit defending those guns will respond to the threat the very instant you click on the artillery. Automatic resolution of battles sees you taking hugely disproportionate losses, even in extreme cases when a large army of thousands ambushes a single depleted unit - this means you resign yourself to playing every battle no matter how trivial in areas of high unit attrition. Also, in some instances if your army is attacked by a larger force on the strategic map, it may not attack you on the battle map, instead inviting you to give up your defensive position. If you wait for the timer to reach zero, you could find that you suffered a "crushing defeat", and your units are teleported across the strategic map far from their original location.

There are two choices of campaign; historical and domination. Historical has many treaties and facilities already in place, and your game is guided by missions that reflect actual events of the time. However, domination mode appears to be identical apart from the loss of missions. Why can't I choose to play from a neutral position and decide how certain locations are utilised and which powers I wish to align with? Also, famous generals like Wellington, Blucher and Napoleon himself cannot be killed - that's fine for historical mode, but why not in domination? At least they can be moved reasonably freely from army to army, Admirals can only be re-assigned to improved ships if their original vessel is scrapped. The new "gentleman" unit is a distracting waste of time, and spies are much more clumsy to use than before. Taxes and religion appear to play a part, but can be safely ignored. You can sack government ministers, but their replacements have identical qualities.

A.I. is also particularly bad, and has been mentioned by other reviewers. I think in the case of your own units this may have been deliberate - to give the player more to do. However, your troops are so stupid that you find yourself micro-managing every battle with the pause button. Units do not even have the sense to face enemy soldiers firing into their backs at point blank range. Enemy units certainly react to the placement of your troops intelligently, but I've rarely seen them form infantry squares or use canister shot. The enemy also seems keen to "fight to the death", rather than leave the field when the situation is hopeless but perhaps with enough troops to cause problems on the strategic map if allowed to retreat. This is particularly silly in naval battles when small forces always fight rather than force you to pursue them - a much more exciting prospect I reckon than just blasting some defenceless merchant vessels out of the water, and would also make aquiring Brigs or Sloops a valuable strategy.

Poor A.I. also effects game difficulty. On strategy games I expect the computer to develop a better long term plan of attack and make superior tactical moves in battles on harder settings, but in NTW all that appears to happen is enemy units stats and "luck" increase. I want the computer to "think" better, rather than just have enemy militia fighting as if they're professional Foot, or Merchantmen fighting like frigates. I found the game difficulty very unsatisfying.

A quick word regarding the execrable Steam: it IS intrusive, and I suspect is the cause of some issues on my computer. At the very least, it bombards you with adverts and messages. It also does not allow you to choose an installation path, meaning my C drive, which I wished to keep for my O/S only, is now full of Steam files. On the up side, they do occasionally offer some truly amazing promotions, but it's still a big nuisance that I'd rather be without.
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on 1 March 2010
I never had a lot of the problems that other gamers reported with Empire. My main gripe was flickering graphics and crackly sound, despite my high spec/more than enough computer.

However, there is an instantly noticeable difference when at first you enter the world of Napoleon. Loading times are greatly improved, the page doesn't stutter when you move across the map, sound and graphics are impeccable, and this is on the highest setting. So the gameplay is much smoother and more enjoyable.

I love the attention to detail they have added on musket fire; it looks much more realistic and a cloud of smoke gradually gathers above a units head after several volleys. Also, units are much more reactive, not delaying so much in moving from one place to another.

My favourite alterations are the battle map which is a more detailed version of the maps from Medieval and Shogun. The HUD covers less of the screen thanks to better organisation. Your position on the battleground seems to have a greater and much more realistic effect on the outcome of a battle (positioning and terrain on Medieval 1 was crucial, but seemed to be less important since Rome).

The positioning of armies on the campaign map is also more important on this game; armies are susceptible to attrition damage if they are stationed in harsh conditions.

The 'quickview' screen which comes up in the heat of battle is very useful, letting you know important battle events and allowing you to be led straight to the location if clicked upon.

I particularly like the increased usefulness of spies; being able to sabotage an army is a great addition that can allow you to prepare better for important battles.

Diplomacy has improved vastly since the days of Medieval but I still think there is room for improvement. You are less able to call on allies to aid you in battle or to step in and help nations fight against their enemies.

Overall, gameplay, graphics, variety, historical content, and all the nice little touches combined, it is probably the most complete game of the series, which after the failings of Empire is a great tribute to CA and Sega.
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on 28 February 2010
After the stumble across the line with empire, many of us were in divided minds as to how Napoleon would turn out, and whether Sega would learn from the mistakes of Empire: Total War.

Well where to start, probably something that plagued the majority of us in Empire, graphics and Performance. It felt nothing like the previous total war, the load-times are quick (except for the largest battles) and even the biggest battles run smoothly on hear, with only occasional glitches on the screen when trying to fast forward big battles.

Secondly, gameplay, which, like the performance, has been greatly improved. The campaigns are all fun challenging, but are sometimes a bit linear with the same outcome no matter what happens, which limits the replay value of this game. I have only played through 2 of Napoleon's campaigns, but they are both thrilling, introducing new features such as attrition which will limit your attacks of other nations creating a good sense of realism as the effects can devastate your army. There is also a new replenishment feature which lets you slowly gather your units back to full strength at towns and cities, or at Supply posts, which I overlooked at first in favour of industrial buildings, but Supply post can be a life savour when deep in enemy territory as they replenish your troops incredible fast. The improved characters also make the campaign more interesting, as you can now sabotage an enemy armies position, buying you vital time when you need it, as well as being able to establish spy networks in enemy towns from which to get a steady stream of information.

The AI, which many of us felt was weak in E:TW and easy to crush, has also been improved, using flanking maneuvers and positioning artillery on tactical hills to rain gunpowder down on you, what we'd expect from the AI, although there are still a few suicidle charges now and again.

For those who bought this for the units, a total of 15 have been added especially, and all can turn the tide of battle with a good spread this time of some available earlier periods of the game, although a lack of artillery has been noted.

So, if you wanted a fixed version of Empire: Total War, here it is. The game will keep you going for along time, especially with all the multi-player that I haven't talked about, and the new features and polished effects of the game make it well worth buying.

Vive la Emperor!
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on 17 March 2010
Firstly I would just like to say that I am one of those masochists who has stuck with Empire from the beginning through all the pain, the crashes, the corrupted save games, the annoying AI cheats and countless patches. I have to say that though at times I felt like smashing my laptop up in sheer frustration I kept going back to it time after time. The sheer scope of the game was breathtaking and I have completed the Grand Campaign over 30 times with nearly all the factions. So it was with great anticipation that I preordered this, the Napoleonic period is a period of history that I have a huge interest in, especially the Peninsular Campaign of Wellington (thanks to Sharpe!).

I had no problems with Steam at all, my installation went as smooth as anything, in fact I have never really had a problem with Steam. The DLC included in the Imperial Edition installed straight away and so I went straight into the game itself. I didn't bother with the Napoleon campaigns (just as I never bothered with the Road To Independence in Empire) and went immediately into the Campaigns of the Coalition as Britain. Just Like Empire you have a choice of victory conditions which are World Domination and Historical. World Domination gives you free reign as to which territories you wish to conquer but you need more than you do in the Historical campaign which list specific territories. The first thing you will notice is that there are only four playable factions, Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia, as opposed to the twelve from Empire. This is the first point at which you feel a little short changed and where it starts to feel like an expansion.

I chose the Historical campaign, ramped up the difficulty to max and launched the game. The campaign starts in early January 1805 and each turn lasts 2 weeks and runs until late December 1812. The first thing you notice is how much improved the graphics are over Empire despite using the same engine, they are nothing short of jaw dropping (provided you have a decent enough system of course). One of the most impressive things is the gradual changing of the seasons over the year. The second thing that you notice is how small the map is. It literally just covers Europe, not even North Africa is included, the first time a European Total War campaign map has omitted this area. The feeling that it is just an expansion crept in again at this point, although it must be said that countries are now divided up into smaller regions but there are still fewer ones than there are in Medieval 2. There are no longer any trading areas on a world map, instead there are trading spots dotted around the edge of the map for you to put trading ships on to gain extra income.

During the first turn I set up trade agreements with allies etc. This was more or less the last time I used the diplomacy screen as although there are now more options such as request someone to break an alliance or set up a trade embargo with an enemy, as one of the coalition powers everyone likes you as France is the real enemy and so diplomacy is a little redundant. Diplomacy in Empire felt like a game of chess as you negotiated alliances to portect borders etc so you could safely fight on other fronts but here it just really doesn't feel needed. Your allies will approach you more in Napoleon, usually to request you join one of their wars, but I just didn't feel the need to use diplomacy as much as in Empire.

The campaign itself will be familiar to anyone who has played any of the total war games. As Britain you start at war with France and Spain. I found the campaign AI to be a little pedestrian, neither Spain nor France were overly aggressive and I conquered Spain quite easily. I conquered a couple of territories in France but the French seemed happy to leave me there, depsite having numerical superiority. One thing that is improved in the campaign AI over Empire is that the enemy will now withdraw rather than fight if massively outnumbered and will surrender cities. When you capture a city you now have the option of peacefully occupying it, which yields no income but will prevent rioting, sacking it which gives a cash bonus but understandably upsets the population or liberating it which will give you a protectorate. As there is only one theatre and no real enemies the campaign just doesn't seem as challenging as the one in Empire, in fact I completed it in August 1809, not even two thirds of the way through the timeline. Perhaps playing as the French would be more of a challenge as everyone is out to get you, this is something I will have to try to see.

The battles, especially the naval battles, are improved. The AI no longer seems to cheat as it did in Empire. If you don't know what I mean on the harder settings instead of ramping up the AI it would ramp up the enemies abilities so they would fire faster, do more damage, stay in fights long after they should have broke even if you had veteran units and the enemy were recruits. This was, and still is, one of my major gripes with Empire. Units will now break when they take roughly fifty percent casualties but are more likely to rally. Units now gain veterancy a lot easier than they did which means very quickly armies will become very hard to beat. You also now get visual warnings when units are breaking or are out of ammunition which is also a great help.

Graphically the battles are greatly improved. In land battles the muzzles on the muskets flash as they fire, the ground shakes when cannons go off (which can actually be a bit annoying) and the uniforms look stunning. But its the naval battles where the improvements can be really seen. The water effects are nothing short of amazing, ships rock when they get hit by cannon balls and the explosions from a magazine hit or uncontrolled fire have to be seen.

Light infantry skirmishing still doesn't work, yes they will retreat from the enemy when they get close but still won't turn around and start firing again resulting in them getting attacked in the rear and butchered. They managed to get it right in Medieval 1 and 2 and Rome so I really can't see how they keep failing here. This takes away one of the main tactics of the time, especially the French who used massed skirmishers to soften up the enemy before the column hit home. Apart from this I didn't come across any major bugs although I am sure if I play a couple more times I will start noticing them but seeing as how this game uses the Empire engine which is now largely fixed that isn't really suprising. This is how Empire should have been on its release.

For all its technical improvements though it just doesn't feel that different from Empire. For those that know CA's games know that they have a developement cycle of Revolution - Evolution. Shogun came first then the first Medieval which was a huge improvement and had a different feel despite being based on the same engine, as did Medieval 2 to Rome but this just doesn't feel different enough from Empire, and with its smaller scale just seems as though its an expansion along the lines of Viking Invasion or Alexander. Don't get me wrong, it is an absolutely superb game taken on its own but it just feels like this should have been an expansion rather than a full priced game and if I'm going to be cynical I suspect that's how it started out given its short developement time from the release of Empire. I would still recommend buying it, especially for those who had poor experiences with Empire and didn't stick with it, and I would even recommend it for those like me who did, just don't expect too much of an evolution from Empire though.
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on 13 May 2013
After owning Napoleon TW for a number of years I have finally got around to writing a review of it.

The game itself builds on what has already been seen in various Total War games, successfully blending old and new things if you've played Total War before you know what you are getting, if not think huge battles with thousands of characters

The Good

The graphics are greatly improved on this engine and most modern graphics cards should be able to play this at a high level of detail enriching the experience
The Naval combat is excellent, if fiendishly difficult at first, it completes the game and gives you a fully rounded experience. My advice would be to stick with the naval combat you'll get there in the end.
The game play levels are as always accessible to new players and familiar to old players. You can automate, or not, as much as you want depending on your skill levels.
The time to play. This is not a 3 hour shooter this game will take over your free time and is a long term commitment.
Contrary to previous post I am happy with the game on Steam it's good for updates etc, but i have a very high speed connection in slower areas Steam can be a frustration.

The Bad

This game is built for 64bit O/S and if you run it like I initially did on a 32bit build you WILL run into memory issues. This really destroyed my initial experience of playing the game and there is no acceptance by the producers that this is an issue.
Technical support is a bit of a problem if you do have an issue it's not really good enough
The land battles are frustratingly like all TW games before it has an achilles heel. In this case the enemy always seems to find cover even when non exists
Multilayer suffers from crash issues

This is the game ETW should've been and it feels little more than an add on for that game not a stand alone game
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on 30 August 2010
I consider creative assembly's Rome: Total War to be my favourite game of all time - the atmosphere, music and gameplay appeal perfectly to my idea of the ancient world.

Medieval 2 and Empire both failed me. Unable to give me the same sensation of wonder and lust for the past, they were both sidelined with about 5 hours of gameplay each...

I bought Napoleon from amazon a few weeks ago (the day after, the imperial edition was cheaper :@) and so far i've clocked in about 40 hours playing the game. It has turned my attention to the carnage that was 17th/18th century history and warfare, with campaigns which engage the player in so many ways. Keeping on top of your growing empire can be a pain but completing goals is rewarding (though somewhat scripted). The AI is decent and the developers have addressed issues present in previous games - namely Empire - such as speeding up reload time for units, making for a more fluid (less boring) experience. This is only one among a heap of changes and additions which make this a 5 star game.

Online play is awesome, though the player rating system is a bit weird it is easy enough to find an opponent with roughly the same skill as yourself.

Overall, a visually stunning representation of warfare and social and economic growth in the 17th and 18th centuries, a time where europe was being moulded by conflict at the hands of that little french guy. Granted, you may cringe at the thought of having to side with a bunch of frenchmen, but it's only [...]. Cheers now.

P.S. Steam is alright. I have a maximum download speed of 60kb/s... Patience is a virtue.
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on 28 July 2010
Napoleon is a good game if you have flogged Rome to death. The Steam issue didn't give me any problems and the game loads and runs fine... 98% of the time. It has managed to lock my computer once but all the total war range does that occasionally.

The battle side is very easy to use if you have played any of the total war series but the AI is very weak. All you seem to need to do is plant your infantry in a line. Place the artillery sensibly (high and clear of your own troops) and manage the cavalry yourself. The AI never seems to anything remotely unexpected and attacks when clearly it should not.

The map/management part is more complex than rome but the explanations of exactly what you are trying to do is poor, making it difficult to use. It feels like a poor mans Civ. And it seems to have little effect on success in achieving the objectives.

So frustration with understanding the significance of the map part along with a weak AI brings down my fun score.

I haven't tried using real enemies via steam yet. Maybe that will improve things.
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on 3 March 2013
Total War are heading for the title Total Bore for me. Introducing their products through Steam is a big downfall in my opinion. When I bought the game I didn't want to sit there for hours downloading some net rubbish and all their product placement malarky, I wanted to play a game.

Steam sucks!
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on 25 June 2010
Don't know why but the further in the more this game struggles was initially dropping the video in battles now it gets so far into the battle and crashes the only way to progress is to autoresolve. My PC far exceeds recommended system requirements for the game so I can't explain it. It's interesting that the game fails at times of high graphics requirements perhaps the servers can't cope. I have heard that it's a common problem and that it overheats the graphics card but nothing definite. It's a shame that this is ruining a great game.
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on 28 February 2010
If you have any reservations about buying this item based on a bad Empire Total War experience,don't,basically it works it has no bugs and does not crash.
Essentially the developers I think have gone back to the origins of the Total War genre where the battles are fundamentally the heart of the game and the other elements such as diplomacy and research requirements are slightly simplified also the religious elements have been dropped completely making for a much more streamlined game.
Graphically the game has many improvements units are more detailed and don't look cloned,some of them such as the heat haze around a cannon's muzzle or the cannon balls which now tear a smoking groove in the earth are admittedly small but they add to an overall sense of believability to the environment.
Sound is also improved especially when down at unit level my favourite at the moment is a british soldier asking fearfully where his mates head has gone,brutal yes but also believable.
As to whether the Imperial Edition is worth purchasing over the standard version it's a close call but it's a quality product and i'm very pleased with it.
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