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HappyOldGuy
10th March 09, 10:23 PM
Well, I've been playing it now pretty steadily for a couple of days (since it shipped) and overall, I'm pretty happy. It's another out of the park successor to one of the top 2 franchises in PC game history. It does have some annoying glitches, mostly in AI. The AI factions do some wierd stuff on the campaign maps, and some of the firing doctrines (more on those later) are FUBAR at the moment. But overall, it's really outstanding.

For those who live under rocks. The total war series of games combines a turn based empire management game (a la civ) with a real time strategy game to resolve the individual battles. The battle part of the game is supported for multiplayer, but the empire part is not, yet. It will be in a forthcoming patch. Prior versions of the game have been set in feudal japan, classical rome, and medieval europe. The current game runs straight through the 18th century.

Since the 18th century was the "Age of Sail" the biggest new feature is the real time strategy naval battles. Prior versions of the game just had naval battles autoresolve off screen. But now you get to fight em out. Overall I'm still torn about the naval combat. In every sim type game, there is a sweet spot somewhere between arcade simplicity and crushing detail. And of course that spot is different for everyone. For the naval combat, I think they went just a little too far in the simple side for me. It's close though. The naval engagements are challenging, and they reward (some) historically correct tactics. You are constantly watching wind direction, and trying to keep wind position while crossing the T unloading your broadsides. But alot of success in the game is about micromanaging your broadsides, which is just not that interesting. I think I would have liked this part of the game a ton more if instead of adding the silly broadside controls, they had done more to differentiate the ships based on their maneuver characteristics. Adding in the fact that different ships and sail configurations perform better at different wind angles and with different wind velocities would have made this part 10/10 for me. Lookswise, I can't say enough good stuff about it. Good water effects, animated crews, every cannonball and shot modeled, tearing sails, etc.

The turn based empire building layer has also changed alot, and mostly for the better. Prior games used a pretty classic city building based model. You built up your cities through a series of upgrades. So it would go from village to town to large town to small city, etc. And each new tier unlocked a new tier of buildings and military units that you could buy. The new model is more based on researching specific technology. You research technologies in your universities, and each technology unlocks something. New buildings, new military capabilities, new units, etc. But another cool period bit is that the more universities you have, the more unrest you get, and the more likely you are to face a rebellion. Unlike previous games, you have to deal with potential revolts from your oppressed peasants, your displaced nobles, and your burgeoning middle class, and you have to balance them off against eachother to a certain degree. Although alot of the reviews have talked about this version having less micromanaging than previous versions, don't believe it. If anything, having the facilities outside your capital to manage means more management, but it's still not a chore.

The massed land battles have always been the strength of the series, and they are back, better than ever. One caveat. Apparently if you play with the difficulty below 'hard', the AI is prone to fighting in big ugly blobs, but if you are playing at a reasonable difficulty, the AI fights in fairly clean battle lines, attacks your artillery, etc. It could be better, but it's really not bad. One thing that is very cool is that ho your new technology affects your battle strategy. In other versions, having bigger cities unlocked new unit types. in Empire, there is still some of that, but even more you unlock new abilities for your existing troops. So even the basic line infantry you start with will eventually learn to use plug, then socket bayonets, fire in ranks, then fire in platoon, then fire while advancing or retreating. It's pretty cool.

So anyhow, once the patch gets released, I expect to see some a you would be imperialists across the push of bayonets in some multiplayer beatdowns.

Steve
11th March 09, 01:18 AM
There is a review forum, fyi.

HappyOldGuy
11th March 09, 10:55 AM
Last time I posted a video game review there, you moved it here.:tongue:

elipson
11th March 09, 01:44 PM
How does the battle AI compare to TW:M2 or TW Rome? Rome had a somewhat decent AI on the hardest setting, M2 didn't.

good selection of units for different factions?

Now im gonna have to buy a new computer just for this game... unless its on xbox?

Steve
11th March 09, 01:46 PM
Last time I posted a video game review there, you moved it here.:tongue:

Well, fuck.

I blame it on my recent concern with the lack of activity in this forum (see my kick-ass Beowolf review).

partyboy
11th March 09, 02:06 PM
just because nobody read my kick-ass review...

HappyOldGuy
11th March 09, 02:16 PM
How does the battle AI compare to TW:M2 or TW Rome? Rome had a somewhat decent AI on the hardest setting, M2 didn't.

good selection of units for different factions?

Now im gonna have to buy a new computer just for this game... unless its on xbox?
Hmm, I would rank rome and med II in reverse order, so take this with that in mind, but in general I think the AI is decent, but not great. At hard and above the AI lines up in a reasonable battle line, uses cover, tries to flank, and uses cav to try and get your cannon. So that's all good. But sometimes it seems like it gets stuck in situations and doesn't know what to do and just stands there to get pounded. Almost all the TW games have gotten major AI improvements in their first big patch, so I'm hopeful.

Alot of people are bitching about the unit selections. Other than the native american, indian, and turkish factions, most of the factions share most of the units. There are a few faction specific units, but nothing like rome or MTW. But that is in keeping with the period, and I for one approve. Historically this was the beginning of mass conscript armies. Also, it always bugged me that MTW would give identical units from two different factions different stats just for the sake of variety.

elipson
11th March 09, 06:05 PM
I actually really like the diversity of M:TW.

I found the AI particularly stupid for sieges. In the field they were.... not terrible. But anytime they attacked a major city that was defended in any way, the computer got decimated. They would stand there and let artillery destroy them, all the while never using it for themselves.

Does this game include other major areas than just Europe? And I don't mean the superficial way that M:TW included the Americas.

HappyOldGuy
11th March 09, 06:13 PM
I actually really like the diversity of M:TW.

I found the AI particularly stupid for sieges. In the field they were.... not terrible. But anytime they attacked a major city that was defended in any way, the computer got decimated. They would stand there and let artillery destroy them, all the while never using it for themselves.

Does this game include other major areas than just Europe? And I don't mean the superficial way that M:TW included the Americas.
Yeah, I always autoresolved sieges. But they sucked in rome too.

Three seperate theaters, europe+mediteranean, india, and americas. They interact, but the maps are distinct.

elipson
11th March 09, 10:23 PM
I would never autoresolve a siege. For starters, its fun smashing other armies. And secondly, with the comp set on the hardest setting, they seem to have way more men/money than I could ever amass. Probably from dropping all other fighting if they bordered an area you control. Grinding them down through siege action was the only way I could counter balance that.