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Some thoughts on Medieval II

January 11th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 3 Comments · CGM, Creative Assembly, Medieval

If you want a real review, you can go out and buy the latest CGM, but I will take this opportunity to reflect a little more on this game.

First, let me make it clear that I stand by my review completely. This is a good game, made even better by the recent patch. It is a reliable formula that gives instant gratification. There are few things quite as satisfying as a bunch of knights swooping in on the rear of enemy pikemen or watching the halting mechanics of the trebuchet. The strategy game is mostly the same as it was in Rome (one of my all time favorites) though the city/castle management has been noticeably improved. Still, there are some really minor issues that nag at me.

1) Merchants – Is it just me or this a useless unit type? In order for them to make any sizeable sum, you need to park the money-grubbers on a resource very far from your homeland. Supply and demand I guess, though I don’t know why Turkish metals are necessarily better than ye olde Welsh metals. But by the time they get there and have enough skill to be a good return on the investment, some tycoon from Alexandria shows up and buys your guy out. Save the gold and build more archers.

2) Princesses – Thankfully, there aren’t as many of these running around as there were in the original Medieval. There it felt like you were running a convent school some times. But most of the time, they just become diplomats with hips. If you want to keep the family line going, you need to marry them off – younger, the better – so you don’t want to rush them from Paris to Constantinople looking for a foreign husband. Most of the time I just marry them to first single knight I adopt.

3) The Aztecs – These guys are tough. If you expect to just cut through the jungle and obliterate the Mexican people, you’re wrong. The armies are huge, and they fight you in terrain illsuited to your horse-heavy army. Add in the fact that the voyage is a long one and you will probably rethink your unwillingness to storm that huge Moorish castle.

4) Retainers – I love the retainers, but there should be a way for these to play a larger role in the game than as mere pluses and minuses to attributes. Maybe the pagan magician should make it more likely heretics will pop-up in territories where the general governs, or conversion will be more difficult. Why can’t we see the shield-bearer in action at the general’s side? As it now stands, all these retainers become a math problem. And they live just as long as your general does. Why not have some die off? And the “mother-in-law” retainer shouldn’t be so negative. Mothers-in-law are sweet and wonderful creatures that spread sunshine and daisies wherever they go.

5) Frills – I didn’t miss the assassination movies. They are certainly more varied than they were in Shogun, but how many times do I need to see my stealthy guy hiding in a barrell? The speeches on the other hand, are still great. The problem is that they don’t start until the camera has panned over your army. Very Spielberg, but it means that I need to be a little more patient than I usually am with this sort of game. Some people thought the speeches were gone altogether.

6) Weather and terrain – On a more serious note, I don’t get why they even bother having terrain and fog hide enemy units when the minimap lets me know precisely where they are. Sure, I can’t target them until I “see” them, but knowing the general direction and placement of the enemy means that I can get my flankers all set up. If you’re going to hide units, hide them.

7) Endgame – One of the great things about the Roman campaign in Rome: Total War was the endgame. After beating on barbarians for hours, you eventually had to win a civil war against your rivals. True, there’s no historic parallel to this in medieval history, but the Total War series is less about history than it is about smashing stuff.

Feel free to pile on in the comments.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • JonathanStrange

    I’ve had a lot of fun with M2TW – and expect many months of leading my troops to exciting, loosely historical combats with virtually the entire Medieval-era cast. I agree that the Aztecs are tougher than one would have thought – every battle I’ve had against competent Aztec opponents was close. And here I thought my Spanish Conquistadores would ride right over them with nary a scratch. They’re definitely a challenge as my battlefield success against AI or human opponents has generally been because of my cavalry handling skills and when I’m in terrain ill-suited for the my general to lead the charge and save the day? Trouble.

  • Krupo

    Merchants still have their place – v. fun to protect them with military units when foreign merchants come to visit. Or squishing foreign merchants with a task force of 9 of your units. Very mafia-getting-out-of-a-limo-style.

    I love that effect.

    They basically ‘broke’ retainers – I loved juggling them in RTW, but I suppose they wanted to kill the micromanagement on that angle.

    I enjoy the frills – unless my assassins are on a horrible losing streak – but the snake-movies are usually amusing, even after repeated viewings. ;)

    It’s true that they could’ve sped up the speeches though.

    A few random thoughts
    – Castles v. cities introduce a nice little twist
    – did original MTW have as nasty a black plague as the current one? It was close to freaking me out and none too pleasant.
    – hillside battles north of Jerusalem are broken sometimes. grrrrr. [hills are sometimes too steep to allow engagement at all]; other irritating bugs also spoil the experience (I’ve been playing Oblivion lately because of the irritation… only to find myself looking into downloading an Oblivion patch).

    I may have to go out and pick up a CGM – or should I save my pennies for the 24″ LCD fund? :)

  • TripodQc

    I like this game very much too.
    But the I hope for a new patch soon.
    I’m playing as Egypt and fighting the Mongols when they attack city was very annoying. They did not attack just stare at my wall, thanks god I had not selected unlimited time for the battle.

    They are already mod’s around for the game, some of which “patch” the game. Maybe I’ll check 1 out and let you all know.

    By the way I like your blog/website keep up the good work.