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Empire: Total War PC Game Review

March 2nd, 2010

empire-total-war-pc-game.jpgEvolving the series to a whole new level, Empire: Total War is the latest installment to date of the highly acclaimed Total War franchise. Released for the personal computer (PC) in March of 2009, Empire delivers highly detailed graphics, deeply strategic game play, intensely coordinated tactical maneuvering, optional varied micromanagement, and much more. As well, the graphic details can be tailored so that the game can run smoothly on a wide array of systems with different capabilities.

New to the series, there are now fully rendered, controllable, animated naval battles and a technology tree that requires researching to advance. Choice of government is also now a factor that affects economy, public opinion, and diplomatic relations.

Graphics and Theaters of Action

Graphically speaking there are two areas. The first is the campaign map where players manage their cities and local facilities as well as orchestrate unit creation and deployments. Friendly to the eyes, the campaign map covers nearly the entire globe except for Asia, Australia, and the Polar regions. There are three main continental theaters played simultaneously: North and Central America, Europe, and India. Also worth mentioning are the four trade theaters: the East Indies, the Ivory Coast, the Straits of Madagascar, and the coast of Brazil. The trade theaters are played with only naval units where the player can establish lucrative trade routes to increase the economic strength of their nation. On the campaign map the player can zoom up close to the terrain for detailed inspection or zoom out to better contemplate the overall perspective.

The second graphical area is the battle mode where players can command their units personally if they decide not to auto resolve the fight from the campaign map. Again the player can zoom right down to the individually rendered and animated units and watch them move and fight by their commands as well as zoom out to an eagle’s view to better visualize and deploy their forces on the battlefield.

Strategy Is Key

Strategy is critical throughout the game both on and off the campaign map. Not only must players properly build, deploy, and use their military but they also have to build a strong enough economy to maintain the financial support of it. Aside from training costs and maintaining military wages, a player also needs funds to improve cities and local infrastructure such as roads, mines, agriculture, religious structures, schools, universities, government buildings, military installations, and more. On top of that money can be useful to grease the wheels of diplomacy with the diplomatic options of giving state gifts such as fine china, thoroughbred horses, and fine jewelry to other nations.

Using the right tactics at the right time on the battlefield makes all the difference between victory and defeat. For example running a cavalry charge into the rear or side of an unprepared infantry formation can be highly effective whereas running that same unit headlong into a pike-inspired infantry square formation or straight at a row of a dozen cannons would of course be a shattering suicide.

To Micromanage, or Not to Micromanage

Another great campaign map feature is the ability to toggle the auto building of infrastructure on and off so that those who love micromanagement can have a field day and those who dislike it need not worry about it.

Naval Battles Are Now Playable

As previously mentioned, naval battles are playable for the first time in this series with a variety of ship types to develop and choose from. The ships are modeled off of records from the National Maritime Museum of London. Like the troops, the ships are all rendered and animated, complete with crews who mill about the ships manning the cannons and climbing the rigging. Available ammo types are cannonballs to damage the ships, chain shot to rip up sails, and grapeshot to take out crew. Ships can carry out boarding attacks (and be boarded) where the crews can be seen fighting each other in real time.

Government and Religion

Also new to the series is the player’s choice of national government. They may select from a monarchy or a republic and that choice can be changed at any point in the game through the incitement of a revolution. Monarchy works well at the start of the campaign but later industrialization and development of a nation can bend public opinion to demand change to a republic.

Religion is also still a factor in the game but not as much as it was with Empire’s predecessor Medieval: Total War. While there is no longer the threat of the inquisitions, religious factors still play a part with public order, opinion, and attitudes between nations.

New Features and Expansions

The technology tree is a nice addition to the game and offers various improvements to economic and military capabilities. Improvements fall into the areas of military, ordnance, naval, agriculture, metal industry, textile industry, and philosophy with each area having its own tree of possible developments.

Also new and worth mentioning are the ‘gentleman’ and ’scholar’ units. They can assist in speeding up research for an educational institution, steal technology from another nation’s facilities, and duel similar units (to the death) to prevent them from stealing your own technologies.

There are also some additional expansions available to purchase online that can add to this already immense game.(989)

Play the American Revolution

Aside from the grand campaign where the player can choose from many different nations to play, there is also a separate campaign (included with the original game) that follows the birth and ascent of the legendary American Revolution.

Epic in Scope and Highly Replayable

Empire: Total War offers vast possibilities of gameplay, leaving players to choose freely how they achieve their campaign goals and interact with the rest of the world. There are many nations to choose from and four levels of difficulty settings on both the campaign and battle maps. It can be educational with all the unit and technological advancement descriptions of the era. Adding even more to the game is the option of players being able to play online battles against each other via networks or over the Internet. There are a great number of things that players can do and a large number of ways to get them done, which makes this game open to almost endless possibilities.


This article was supplied to us by “M. Bro” from Constant Content.


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