Sunday, 22 March 2009
Empire: Total War - PC
Set in the 18th century, Creative Assembly's take on the era is arguably the best in the series.
It's a hulking colossus of a game, full of impressive battles, complex scenarios, historical set pieces and absorbing gameplay.
There's a lot to take in, and many will initially be put off by the game's incredible depth and seemingly endless options. However don't despair, because Empire: Total War eases the player in via the Road To Independence campaign. This acts as a tutorial of sorts and introduces the player to the mechanics of the game at a well-paced clip.
While this mode is enjoyable, the Grand Campaign is where Empire: Total War properly starts. Taking place across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and North and South America, the campaign is epic in scale and structure.
The game plays out alternating between two modes. The first has you positioning armies, engaging in diplomatic matters and creating the building blocks of your empire. The second involves massive land and sea battles, where nations vie for ultimate supremacy.
The much touted naval battles are a joy to behold as your valiant fleet engage the enemy across swirling seas. However, it's not all smooth sailing. With so much going on, things can get chaotic, and it's easy to lose track of everything that's happening. Ships can also unintentionally go astray, but hopefully a patch at a later date will sort out this gameplay niggle.
The game is all about tactics and tinkering with strategies and plans is completely engrossing. You will lose hours as you play out scenarios, attempting to crush anyone foolish enough to stand in your way.
With so much going on, it's imperative the interface is up to the job. Thankfully, Creative Assembly have stripped this back from previous versions, making economic development and decision making much easier to handle than before.
As you might expect, to get the most out of Empire: Total War you are going to need a high-end rig. Playing on anything less would be doing the game a great injustice. It's a graphical tour de force and one of the most visually impressive games I've seen running on a PC. The game is crammed with glorious details and once you command your first naval battle, I guarantee your jaw will hit the floor.
It is impossible to mention everything this incredibly robust game has to offer, and trying to tell you would spoil half the fun anyway. It's a landmark title and, despite Street Fighter IV's best efforts, Empire: Total War is the best game I've played this year.