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Empire: Total War (PC DVD)
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- Platform: Windows XP / Vista
- BBFC Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over. Not for sale to persons under age 15. By placing an order for this product, you declare that you are 15 years of age or over.
- Media: CD-ROM
- Item Quantity: 1
Empire Total War introduces a host of revolutionary new features, including true 3D naval combat. For the first time in the Total War series, you will be able to intuitively command single ships or vast fleets upon seascapes rich with extraordinary water and weather effects that play a huge role in your eventual glorious success or ignominious defeat. After pummeling your enemy with cannon fire, close in to grapple their ship and prepare to board, taking control of your men as they fight hand-to-hand on the decks of these wooden behemoths.
In addition, Empire Total War will see further enhancements to the Total War series' signature 3D battles and turn-based campaign map. Real-time battles will pose new challenges with the addition of cannon and musket, challenging players to master new formations and tactics as a result of the increasing role of gunpowder within warfare. And the Campaign Map - for many, the heart of Total War - introduces a variety of new and upgraded elements, including new systems for Trade, Diplomacy and Espionage with agents; a refined and streamlined UI; improved Advisors; and a vastly extended scope.
- Take command on the high seas. New real-time 3D naval warfare takes Total War's unparalleled battle action to the high seas, with players commanding single ships or vast fleets.
- Become a founding father. Control the fate of the United States of America, from its revolution against the British to overcoming the challenges of a young independent nation.
- Brand new multiplayer component includes player rankings, leagues and ladders, and completely new gameplay modes.
- All-new graphics engine and technology features staggering real-time seascapes, new advanced landscape and flora systems, and dynamic weather.
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Top customer reviews
On to the Game
It's brilliant, life consumingly addictive. No other franchise intersperses careful and considered strategy with moments of real time manic excitement.
The game starts in 1700 at the start of the most frenetic period of empire building by the European Powers, players are able to chose one of the major European powers (France, GB, Prussia, Poland, Austria, Spain, Russia, United Provinces, Ottomans, Sweden) or one Indian power (Maharathan). Each having a varied objectives and different units, your choice will profoundly affect your game experience. For the first time in the franchise, Empire has three 'theaters' to operate in, Europe, North and Central America and the Indian Subcontinent including a good portion of the Middle East.
The Atlantic powers are already mid squabble for the Americas and this is likely to be the major focus if you are playing France, Spain or GB. While if you play a central European power your efforts will focus on the European continent.
In the strategy phase you will manage your government ministers, research priorities, tax rate and diplomacy, each profoundly influencing the other. For example tax your peasants too much and you will face rebellions and even revolution (you may chose to 'induce' a revolution if you wish to change government type).
Treaties, diplomacy and war are ever changing, fail to forge alliances and you will face a challenging campaign, while strategic use of allies can allow far more rapid expansion. For example when playing the UK handing territories to your dutch allies will make them powerful enough to hold off France while you focus on the Americas.
The 'technology tree' is unlocked by possessing schools and colleges, depending on you priorities you can chose to 'level up' in the military, production or scientific trees. Making a breakthrough then unlocks new units buildings etc. It is particularly rewarding to unlock a new unit you can then deploy in the 'battle phase'.
Then there's the battles...
When the time is right you will engage on the war path, moving your armies and fleets during the strategic phase to conquer new territories. Every battle in Empire you have the choice to either auto-resolve or fight yourself but the real fun is in fighting them yourself. The battlefields are beautifully rendered allowing you to scroll right in to first person view, or out high for a strategic overview. Group and deploy your units in a variety of formations and engage.
Empire presents far more tactical options than any other Total War game, the reduced focus on melee means that bundling just isn't an option, press ctrl + A at your peril. Artillery and skirmish units play a far greater role than in other members of the franchise, although a well timed cavalry charge remains a battle winner. As is appropriate for the age most battles will involve armies lining up opposite one another and firing volleys, it is the use of terrain and your other units around that line that will determine the outcome. Good players can defeat vastly superior numbers (whether AI or online), tactics count.
If it the height of battle you are not screaming 'forward men, chaaarge!' at your monitor you are doing something wrong.
'Empire' is not one but two great games, as either a turn based strategy or a real time tactical combat game, Empire stands level with the best, but combined it is a unique and engrossing experience.
Personally I believe this is the best in the franchise (better than the more recent Shogun 2), anyone who disagrees is welcome to meet me on the field of honour!
Empire: Total War is set in the war-torn 18th century, a period where cannon-laden ships of the line ruled the seas, and where the long-standing European infighting was carried over to India and the colonies on the American continent. To properly represent this turbulent era, Empire features three theatres: Europe (including the Middle East, North Africa and Persia), India, and the Americas (including North America as far east as the Colorado, the Caribbean, and northern South America). Additionally, several trade-theatres are featured as well, which only consist of coastlines where merchant ships can be sent to trade with the locals and must defend themselves against other ships. These trade theatres include the coasts of Brazil, Western Africa, Straits of Magadascar and the East Indies. In the Grand Campaign, you take control of one of twelve nations (Austria, France, Great Britain, Maratha Confederacy, the Ottoman Empire, Poland-Lithuania, Prussia, the Russian Empire, Spain, Sweden, the United Provinces and the United States), and must lead them to total domination through bloody battles on both land and sea, as well as the cunning use of diplomacy and a trade monopoly that can span the globe. Fan-made modifications, among other things, also allow you to play as any of the other fortyish factions present in the game, such as the Mughal Empire, Portugal, Venice etc.
Apart from the Grand Campaign, singleplayer skirmishes, historical battles and multiplayer battles, Empire: Total War also features the "Warpath" Campaign DLC, giving you the opportunity to play as one of the Native American factions (Cherokee, Iroquois, Huron-Wendat, Pueblo and Plains Nations) and fight a truly challenging campaign against technologically superior European invaders, as well as the story-driven "Road To Independence" tutorial campaign, loosely covering the French and Indian War, and the American Revolutionary War, where you take control of the British, and later the American forces, and must fight against Natives, French and later the British and Spanish to liberate North America from foreign oppression. This campaign is divided into four chapters, the last one being a standard Grand Campaign for the newly formed United States, only starting in the late (instead of early) 18th century. Some of the changes from the previous Total War games are the following:
- The introduction of real-time naval battles. In previous total war games, these were resolved automatically, but now you get to command impressive 18th century warships. Without doubt, Empire: Total War (and its sequel Napoleon) have the most beautiful naval battles ever made in video gaming history to date.
- You can now also privateer by blockading trade routes of enemy factions with your ships for loot, or do the same on land trade routes using your armies as well.
- While a game turn lasted for two years in Medieval 2, it lasts for only six months in Empire. Given the shorter time span (about 100 years, compared to Medieval 2's 460), this makes sense.
- You can no longer march your armies into provinces belonging to other factions without declaring war, unless you have agreed to a military access via diplomacy. In previous total war games, this was possible, but lead to a rapid deterioration of diplomatic relations that would eventually lead to the declaration of war.
- Provinces are no longer goverened by a single capital, where all buildings are constructed. Instead, towns are strewn throughout a province, and only one building type from a list can be built in each town (giving you the choice of building either a religious, industrial, leisure or scolarly building), and then upgraded.
- Taxes are no longer set differently in each province. Instead, they are set on a theater-wide basis, meaning it is important to garrison troops in those provinces, where rioting might ensue due to high taxes.
- The rich and the poor can be taxed differently. Taxing the rich leads to a loss of "region wealth", i.e. your tax income will be affected negatively in the long run. Taxing the poor leads to negative population growth, a factor that is direly needed to let uselesss villages strewn across a province blossom into towns where you can build one of the four aforementioned buildings that are vital to building up the quality of your empire.
- Religion plays a minor role now. The Pope, inquisitors, heretics, witches, Crusades and Jihads are gone, but a monarchy/republic governmental system has been introduced.
- Cities now have a town watch, whose strength depends on the city's population, only avaliable for defence during a siege. The inexperienced armed citizenry shouldn't be relied on too much due to their low stats and morale, however.
- Gone are the sieges where you used to attack a huge city or impressive castle with siege equipment such as ladders, rams and towers. Instead, the fighting takes place at a star fort outside the city (the cityscape can be seen from the horizon). Your infantry can use grappling hooks to scale them or your cannons can pound the walls to dust - unfortunately, forts are no longer repairable and have to be completely destroyed and rebuilt if you want the walls intact again, a bug that the Creative Assembly only bothered to fix in the next name (Napoleon).
- Diplomats have been removed from the game. Instead, you can directly engage in diplomacy with all nations (divided into major and minor nations) through the simple click of a button. I think this is good, because diplomats were my least favored agents in Medieval 2, and having them spend dozens of turns travelling to distant nations was tiring.
- Due to this, you can now also no longer bribe enemy troops, but this was usually hard to pull off in previous total war games anyways.
- The chivalry/dread system has been removed. You can also no longer sack or exterminate cities, so occupying another region capital won't grant you immediate cash anymore. Also, no prisoners are taken, so here also you cannot hope to fill your coffers through ransom. However, enemy ships can be captured in naval battles (provided you board them and defeat the crew, or if the ship surrenders and cannot flee the battle) and then ransomed or added to your own fleet. If you choose the latter option, those ships still have to be repaired at a friendly port to be brought back to proper fighting condition.
- The whole royal family tree has been scrapped. Generals can now be bought whenever and wherever you want to, symbolizing the decline of the aristocracy's monopoly on field command, being replaced by professional generals who received their training in military academies and who will lead your armies after being "bought".
- There are no rebel provinces at the start of the Campaign. The faction that comes closest to this are the Pirates, who hold certain regions in the Caribbean and who have fleets that spawn randomly in trade theatres.
Empire: Total War features a series of downloadable content (through Steam), including a series of "Elite Unit" packs, which add dozens of new, unique units to the game, as well as the aforementioned "Warpath" Campaign. The DLC bundle (including all 50 unique units and the Warpath campaign) is worth the money, as it adds colour into the otherwise rather lacklusture range of units the vanilla game ships with, which essentially boil down to militia, line infantry, skirmishers/rangers/irregulars, grenadiers, cannons, howitzers, mortars, mounted riflemen, light cavalry and heavy cavalry.
Furthermore, I recommend playing the Grand Campaign on 'very hard' difficulty ('hard' for the Warpath Campaign), including battle difficulty. I also suggest downloading some user-generated modifications for free which add content to the game from the "Total War Center" website, such as historically accurate flags (Empire: Total Flags v.2.8a); a mod that unlocks all factions (All Factions playable v.2.0), a mod that generates more realistic smoke and cannonfire (Battlefield Smoke Mod 4.1) and a mod that swaps the minimap and portraits of faction leaders for historically accurate representations (Grand Campaign Graphics Overhaul). The "Darthmod" and "Sturm und Drang" modifications are also worth checking out, although they completely overhaul the game and can thus be described as a completely different Empire: Total War experience.
Overall, Empire can be described as the Windows Vista of the Total War games: daring and brilliant in the presentation, yet unoptimized and still somewhat bugged simply due to the sheer size of the project. Still, the game is visually breath taking and also highly addictive (I have spent 770 hours of my life on this by 2012), overshadowing the cons: a definite, solid, absolute five, out of five stars.
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