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Empire: Total War Review

March 5th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 13 Comments · 1up, Creative Assembly, Review

You can find it over here. I’ll have more to say tomorrow, but I shouldn’t do two long posts in a single day with a column still to finish.


13 Comments so far ↓

  • Neil

    I think the Grand Campaign is a mess, and if you’re playing the game just for that (as I am), the game’s a C or worse.

    I am finding the campaign AI to be abysmal. It doesn’t create or use armies intelligently, or achieve sensible balance between army and navy.

    The diplomacy is as screwed up as in any other TW game, which is to say it is awful. AI countries declare war against you with no provocation, even when you’re their trade partner, even when you have good relations, even when you are much stronger than they are. Perfectly reasonable proposals are rejected out of hand with no rationale or counter-prosposal given.

    Figuring out which buildings you should be upgrading is as tedious as ever. Even the advisor says you should “work out” which one will give you the best returns. When you’re looking at 20+ possible places to upgrade, you’ll be doing sums for 5-10 minutes just to figure out what the best option is. Doing arithmetic isn’t gameplay. We have computers to do that boring stuff for us.

    Overall, highly disappointing in terms of campaign mechanics. Battles are reasonably fun, but the AI is still mediocre and easily fooled.

  • James Allen

    EU3+exp or ETW?
    Plus, don’t hold your breath for an Out of Eight review of Empire: Total War: another one bites the Sega PR dust.

  • Michael A.

    I wouldn’t call the Grand Campaign a mess. B, perhaps, from my point of view. A pity you didn’t have more space to write on your impressions… look forward to the blog post.

    If anyone else speed-challenged is up for some multiplayer action at some point, let me know.

  • Troy

    “EU3+exp or ETW?”

    EU3 with In Nomine scratches an itch that the Total War games never could. They are deeper, more surprising and allow you to do the impossible if you take a long range view of things. ETW lets me build an empire quickly and explore the smoky fields of Flanders. But choosing between them without a caveat or two makes no more sense to me than choosing between Civilization IV and Age of Mythology.

    Both games have very different audiences and very different purposes.

  • James Allen

    But vague generalities is how I live my life!

    Let’s add some caveats, then.
    1. Is EU3 Complete is better than Empire Total War’s strategic mode? (I would say so)

    2. Is Empire Total War’s real-time mode better than *insert recent tactical game*. Gosh, it’s hard to come up with something to compare it against…other RTTs (DoW2, WiC) aren’t similar really at all.

    3. Empire Total War is the sum of its cooly connected parts.

  • Troy

    1. I hate the whole “better” thing, though since the games are radically different from each other. Is a EU3 campaign more satisfying when it runs well? Absolutely. But ETW lets me run through forests.

    2. ETW’s real time mode is something that only Creative Assembly really does, so you can only really compare it to itself or to a few other real time wargames, like XIII Century or the Take Command games. And the Total War series is better.

    3. All really good games are a sum of their parts; here the parts just fit together more tightly. This has the risk of being a problem – tightly woven parts can come unhinged with a patch since the entire experience can be changed for the worse if one thing is “fixed”. But for now, I really like how it fits together.

  • George Geczy

    Interestingly reviews for ETW and DoW2 don’t usually discuss the installation elements of the experience – I think this is an oversight which, due to the fact that reviewer’s give it a ‘free ride’, means that publishers and developers don’t pay any attention to this element.

    Our guys have bought both DoW2 and ETW in the past day and neither has started to successfully run – Internet required, “Steam is currently too busy” to install, too busy to activate, huge patch download required, Steam reports “This game is currently unavailable please try again at another time” (on the RETAIL box install!) etc etc blah blah.

    I personally think it is unacceptable for games to have installations that take an hour or more to finish, or require the user to jump through huge hoops to get it running. So, how come reviewers give such a poor user experience a “free ride” ?

  • Troy

    I only report on problems I’ve had – like long loading times.

    Having not had an installation problem and with no way to diagnose what is wrong with other people’s installations, I can’t comment on it.

    Same with copy protection schemes – if it doesn’t interfere with my installation, I can’t waste words (I only had 700 here) on how SecurRom is evil.

  • George Geczy

    I’m assuming you might have had a chance to install it before the street date, when everyone else tried rushing the door at once :)

  • Troy

    Yep. And I can’t predict launch day problems.

  • George Geczy

    Also, as I recall, didn’t some mags like CGW have a policy to review the “in the box” (unpatched) version of the game? That’s sort of policy is interesting when you compare to the fact that it appears that both DoW2 and ETW will not launch UNTIL after the first patch is installed…

  • James Allen

    I actually did install DoW2 on the release date with no problems.

  • SwiftRanger

    Same here, could install it from the disc after I deleted the DoW II beta (heard some horror stories from people with the disc version who were downloading the full game through Steam on the first day…). Only issue was that the patch download right after installation got stuck at 0%, just restarting Steam did the trick and that 270MB day 0 was downloaded in less than three minutes afterwards.

    Anyway, there has been a recent Steam client update apparently to ease some of the activation/installation problems people have with E:TW.