The Total war series, massacred by SEGA and The Creative Assembly
Note on the text
Hmm looking over the review now I realise how rant-like it actually is… That’s mostly thanks to the length of it, however I want to assure you all before turning away before actually starting, that most of what’s being said needs to be said, and I really have done my very best to condense it. I could make a list of the things I haven’t covered but I’m not sure anyone would read it… Also compared to the IGN review, which I will not post due to its despicability I’m not going to post a link to it, yes well anyway, compared to the IGN review, this is a little germinated seed in the vastness of the proverbial dark woods…
To my current loyal readers (of whom there are at most 3 at the moment)
Empire total war, given a 9.5 by Steve Butts at IGN, who’s been with the company for over 10 years and has never given a 9.5 to any game. It’s gotta be great, right? To my disappointment, wrong.
Upon buying the game I was surprised when I checked the specs, whilst on the bus home itching to start it up, 2.4 ghz CPU, 2gb ram and 15gb free on your hard drive really did surprise me. It taught me a valuable lesson, check specs before you buy a game, I thought with my brand new shiny computer bought only a month or two ago I wouldn’t have to worry about games being out of its capability, but this really shocked me. Teetering on the border line my computer scraped it with 4gb ram but exactly 2.4 ghz. So, worried about slow performance I started downloading steam from the internet. Once I had done that I put in the Empire disc and started up installation, I hit problems, for some unknown reason Empire doesn’t work with a version of steam which comes of the internet. So I installed the outdated version which came with the discs. Next came the automatic installation of Empire, then just a short 15 minutes later it was time to put the second disc in by this time my enthusiasm had more or less faded. When it had eventually finished installing, then came the actual game itself.
I looked around for the new shortcut to Empire and found none. You absolutely HAVE to play the game through steam, I was a bit confused as to why, but that is a question no one knows the answer to. Why make the game attached to the internet. Although it is pretty rare for a gamer of any sort not to have an internet connection, the old skool gamer does exist (me being one of them, for over a year I didn’t have xbox live of any sort), why they decided to make the use of third party software compulsory and also cut out a portion of customers, which although not too large does exist, is uncertain is simply a mystery. Especially since it created problems for people who already had steam, and it seems it could have easily been avoided. With Rome Total War they ask at the end of the installation whether you want to install Spy Arcade. The only idea that comes to my mind is to prevent piracy, however that won’t stop people dedicated to “steal”.In most eastern European countries due to a lack of server in their own language people have their own WoW servers, with as many as a couple of thousand accounts on the largest ones. If people can play WoW illegally, then getting around a steam account should be easier than getting empire to crash, (don’t worry I’m getting there, in my own long winded crazy rant kinda way)
Before playing the game there were already a number of issues but still hoping that the game would live up to its standards I started it up. I played the land battle Tutorial and saw the nice buttons, in the bottom right hand of the screen, added to make minor changes to unit formations and thought great, but it did leave me a bit unsure whether I should wait for everyone to die at long range or whether I should charge apart from that the land battles seemed more or less them same, although trying my old keyboard shortcut alt keyboard shortcut to switch to melee didn’t work and that was a bit annoying, considering they just got rid of a shortcut without replacing the button to do something else, why not just leave it there? I played the Naval battle Tutorial, I noticed the pretty water and not so pretty froth left in the wake of the boat. The actual gameplay however, left me (that’s odd apparently word thinks it’s meant to say “left I confused” hmm…) confused, I knew how to move the boat and fire, nothing more. It seems, to me at least, that they could have given a brief on a simple strategy rather than leave people in the dark and hope that a regular land battle formation could work.
Even that wouldn’t be all that bad, there are forums and guides for finding out the best strategies as well as just trying it out yourself. The problem is you can’t play the game for more than an hour at most without it crashing. It crashed on the campaign map, it crashed in battles and it even crashed whilst trying to set up a custom battle. The really amazing thing is that it blue screens with a different error each time, sometimes it just turns itself off, another time it deleted itself and steam after crashing and the worst one of all was when it crashed and left my computer beeping whenever I tried to turn it on. However luckily it wasn’t beeping for long, after a short hour of playing Mirrors Edge on my xbox (a review for which will be coming out soon, how soon I do not know but trust me it will be soon) I turned on my computer which thankfully seemed fine.
Coupled with this persistent PC killer I only managed to finish the “Road to Independence” campaign and start a grand campaign with Britain. The Road to Independence is a short mini-campaign were you play as America to, surprisingly, secure you independence from Britain. The Campaign AI is stupider than it previous games although hopefully that was only because The Road to Independence is meant to be an easier prologue, or so I hope… I didn’t play most of the battles because more often than not it made my computer crash, but one thing I did notice was that, literally after the first charge (if not then after the second one) my troops were exhausted. The controls also seemed to be more sluggish than in previous games, I can’t quite put my finger on it but, the men just didn’t move where and when I told them to. Also the new way of building things left me confused, I couldn’t find a clear building or technology tree and I couldn’t find descriptions of what they did. Also all the troops seemed to be more or less the same, they all had guns and stood in a line. I couldn’t notice a difference in speed or strength and the way I distinguished different units on the battle map was by clicking on them and seeing which unit card was highlighted.
The Britain campaign wasn’t much better either, I lost sea battle after sea battle and won land battle after land battle, the only truly improved thing was the diplomacy, which has been changed so that you can talk to any faction and you don’t have to walk to them for 5 or 6 years, however now with so many factions it’s impossible to know who to make alliances with, also the AI hasn’t gotten any less annoying outright no’s to almost anything you offer them makes the need for diplomacy almost unnecessary
Overall if it worked then it would be an alright game, worse than its predecessor Rome, but forgetting the fact that it was a TW game I would give it a 6, maybe 6.5/7 if it wasn’t attached to steam. However because it always crashes and is more or less unplayable, as well as being unbelievably Hyped I’m giving it a…
π/3.5 out of 10
Author: Oscar Wilde
P.S. I returned the game because it was so awful, I might buy it in 6 months or a year when it’s all patched and ALOT cheaper
4th of April 2009