Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Addictive, immersive, challenging - still a classic
on 28 November 2007
Although "Medieval II" has been out for over a year now, this first "Medieval: Total War" remains a classic. This Gold Edition contains both the original game and the "Viking Invasion" expansion pack, allowing for a variety of campaigns set between the years AD 793 and 1453.
The game is split into two sections. The first of these is the campaign mode. In this turn-based mode the player uses the map to control the kingdom at large, setting taxes, building units and facilities, managing his/her generals, moving armies and fleets, conducting diplomacy with rival factions and employing spies and assassins. The second mode is the real-time battle mode, in which the players commands his/her armies directly, positioning troops, selecting formations and tactics and engaging the enemy. The level of detail in this mode is excellent; the 3D landscapes are rendered with trees, hills, water and bridges; even the weather changes.
There are 15 playable factions on the standard (European) map and 8 on the Viking (British) map. Each of these have their own characteristic units (longbowmen for the English, Teutonic Knights for the Germans, Varangian Guard for the Byzantines, for example) and each demands a slightly different style of gameplay. The standard map can also be played in one of 3 time periods, chosen at the start of each game, with more or less advanced units and facilities available according to each. There are also five levels of difficulty, making the game adjustable for all levels of expertise. Aside from the main single player game, there are a number of historical campaigns to undertake, including the Hundred Years' War (featuring the Battles of Crécy and Agincourt) and the Third Crusade. There are also four standalone battles (including Hastings in 1066), a custom battle option, a quick battle option (ideal for filling coffee breaks) and a multiplayer mode.
Indeed there are few faults to be found with this game. My biggest disappointment (and it is a small one) is that there is no manual booklet included with this Gold Edition, only a PDF copy on the disc. Because it isn't possible to view the game and the manual at the same time, it does make learning the game somewhat difficult - and it does take some time to master its full complexity. On the other hand, its very complexity means that once learned it is very immersive - almost as if one were really running a medieval kingdom.
Addictive and challenging, "Medieval: Total War" is an excellent game, and even years after its original release, still highly playable. For people with older, lower-specification machines who may be unable to run "Medieval II", the original will prove ideal. Moreover, at the low price Amazon are currently offering it, it is an excellent buy.