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More Info On Empire

April 22nd, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Creative Assembly, Napoleonics, Preview

There’s an interview with Creative Assembly’s James Russell up at IGN that adds some new details and the usual pre-release puffery.

Things to note:

The scale is a lot greater than previous Total War titles. The campaign map now encompasses not only the whole of Europe and the middle-East, but also North America and the Caribbean, and the Indian subcontinent. It’s a truly epic canvas for the gamer to play out their strategies for world domination.

So the historical time frame is shorter than in previous Total War games, but the the map is much larger. How will province/city management work?

Playing as Prussia, you might feel you have a lot of issues to deal with before you want to go charging into the Americas. Capturing and holding down conquered regions in Europe isn’t going to be easy though. Playing as France, if you capture London, the populace are not going to be happy!

Given how difficult it could be to manage town happiness in Rome: Total War, I wonder how much this “nationalism” will be an impediment and how much will be a challenge.

Of course, the AI needs to grasp these new features and use them to its advantage. In naval battles, it needs to understand the importance of bringing as many guns to bear as possible, and to understand the trade off between a ship’s manoeuvrability and its strength. It has to be a lot more spatially aware than before.

Spatial awareness has not, historically, been the big problem with the AI. In Shogun and the first Medieval game that AI cheated in its movement, with “psychic” army movement. In Rome: Total War, the tactical battles were marred by suicidal generals charging headlong into heavy infantry. In Medieval 2, the AI would build armies composed entirely of crossbows and catapults. Hopefully this push to make the sea battles compelling will lead to a general improvement in how the computer opponents handle warfare.

Different government types confer their own advantages and disadvantages and so encourage different styles of play. The total control of a strong absolute monarch makes the populace easier to handle in general, but it can stifle innovation and growth. When people develop more modern ideas, they tend to demand more freedoms. But with those freedoms, the population may be harder to manage when they do become less satisfied.

A deeper political model is welcome for the 18th century, a time frame that begins just after the Glorious Revolution made Parliament supreme in Britain, includes the rush for Indian colonies, America’s struggle for self-determination, Russian absolutism and the French Revolution.

The campaign map for example is treated in a completely different way, and is no longer based on Rome’s grid system — it’s completely freeform. We’ve also taken buildings out of the region capitals and placed them on the map itself, so they are visible at a glance, easily upgradeable straight from the map — and they are individually attackable. We’ve streamlined and improved large parts of the campaign game such as recruitment, trade and diplomacy.

So the map is not just bigger, it is more finely tuned for province management. The prospect of weakening an enemy by razing their mines or factories adds the possibility of pillaging, I suppose. But in order for this to be useful, it has to be an attractive option to conquest. Maybe a more mobile army that can’t conquer a city can be used as a raiding force?

No release date, yet, though the public window is the final quarter of this year. More analysis as more information becomes available.


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