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Its okay - but not as fun as previous TW games
on 4 January 2011
Although I have loved the TW series since Shogun, I resisted buying this game due to all the bugs that other reviewers kept on reporting. However, in Agust 2010 I relented when I saw this going cheap, so got a copy. My review will be split into 2 bits - the game itself (and the manual), the bug problem & instalation/steam:
THE GAME (Empire)
The game itself seemed daunting at first as it had a massive map over 3 screens. The manual was absolutly dire and only gave the most basic of information - other stuff I learnt off various forums because without knowing how the mechanics work, you can't enjoy a game like this. In reality, the manual should have been beefy, espcially as its supplied as PDF on the disks as well, so theres no excuse (IMO) for not explaining everything in reasonable detail.
At first I hated the game - too much going on, and knowing to little made it less of an experience. I don't get to play games that often, so was disapointed at it all, but I perservered and after a while got into it a bit more, as I started to understand things. I have now played it on and off for around 4 months and will say the following:
1. Battles: Despite the size of the campaign map, the land battles lack the scope of previous TW games - in virtually all my battles, they have been fought on flat ground only. They have buildings which you can use, but don't (but its quite cool looking at your men inside, busting out the windows ready to shoot - but I did this once in 100 years!). Gone are the mountains that were seen in other TW games (as much as a pain as they were), even the bridges, that are on the map, end up like a swamp type battlefield and everyone liked the mass slaughter at the bridges!!!
That said, the battles are decent for what you get - most of the units you don't really need (you mostly just use line infantry) and the opponents are pretty weak unless you set to 'very hard' (recommended). There seems to be a bit more AI thinking in the battles, which is an improvement - but its not very strategic - the enemy will still walk into gun fire and get slaughtered etc. Seiges are a thing of the past really as well, as they all take place in 'star forts' which are ALL the same.
2. Graphics: I have a 5600 dual core (on XP) and I only get mediocre graphics - they are okay, but its a shame probibly only 1 in 10,000 will see the game in its full glory. Still, it plays fine without lags with the settings right!
3.Campaign Map: This vast and pretty decent. The new system of towns takes a bit of getting use to but its okay and the diplomacy is definatly improved.
4. Sea Battles - After a bit of practice these seem okay UNTIL you get big fleets fighting it out - 5 to 6 ships and its easy to micromanage it, but after that its gets a lot more difficult - still its okay!
5. Loading times - These are loooooooong - and TBH a pain in the backside!
Having read many of the previous reviews I knew what I was getting into with steam, the download bit etc and TBH it was pretty painless. I installed from the DVD's, connected to steam, let it do its download thing, then played it. It has only crashed once so far, so I presume the download sorted out certain bugs (It now automatically turns the sound off when you speed things up, which was a COD bug - which is a shame really, as even at fast speed, the battle sounds should be heard as in previous games). I would have prefered not to use steam, or at least have the option, but it did update well (though a patch downloaded could have done the same). Occassionaly I get a message from steam saying I can't play for some reason, but if I restart it plays fine!!! Still, Sega should take note of the users dislike of it in future releases IMO!
Overall I gave it a 3/5. This is because I can't get the better graphics and the gameplay doesnt match previous TW games - but all in all, its decent enough for the money, so I can't complain.
this review is for Empire only - I havnt played Napolean or the other campaigns yet, so will update review when I do.