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The Gold Editions includes the 2 most recent instalments of the Total War franchise. Medieval II Total War and Medieval II Total War: Kingdoms. Based in and around Europe from 1080 and 1530, you have the chance to take control of a mediocre faction and turn it into the greatest faction of their time.
For all those who have played on Rome Total War you can expect very similar gameplay, so you needn't worry about having to learn something completely new. But for all those who haven't there is the option to leave 'advice' on, so you will both learn how to play the game aswell as picking up hints and tips as the game progresses. However I found myself turning off the advice pretty quickly.
There are 2 main ways to play the game as a single player, Battle and campaign. With Battles you can either select a historic battle, e.g. battle of Agincourt, or you can create you own scenario with relative ease, just select your map, factions and units in play and you're off to go. Campaign is slightly harder to explain. You have 2 main options, a short or long campaign. A short campaign requires you to destroy 1 or 2 factions (e.g. If you chose to be Scotland you would have to destroy the English) and conquer a given number of settlements. The Long Campaign allows you more freedom. You have to take over a certain number of settlements, including 1 named settlement which tends to be Constantinople or Jerusalem. The Battle mode allows you to play as any faction you wish, however Campaign modes limit you to just a few instantly playable and then more unlockable factions. These factions, as you may have guessed, all come with unique units and styles of battling. It is then up to you to master a nation, try them all out before settling on just one (I have chosen on either Denmark or Scotland if you are interested).
At first I wanted to carry out the battles myself, but that novelty soon wore off. I know just automatically resolve all the battles, giving me more time to strategically take over as much as I can. You may think this sounds rather dull if you haven't been on the game before. But unless it is a spectacularly large battle you will soon grow weary of having to wait for the armies to march from either side of the map, then the battle itself doesn't improve the situation and then either running away or running after them. Doing this for all the countless battles you will encounter during the game I'm sure you will soon follow suit. But don't let this put you off the game. The battles are incredibly realistic for the majority of the time, and you also get to try out new aspects of the game through the battles and turn the tides of a battle that you would otherwise lose should you automatically resolve it. The campaign mode is still highly addictive without battles and is one of the only games that give you so much freedom in how to go about winning.
The main imperial campaign mode allows you to choose 1 out of the 17 playable factions. Although there are 4 more factions in the game they are non-playable. So you are left with factions such as England, Egypt, Russia, Poland, Milan, Portugal, Moors, and Denmark etc. The map only focuses on the Europe, Middle Eastern and North African regions. To the North it goes as far as Helsinki, the South the Morocco, the West to Lisbon and the East to Baghdad. The add-on games all come with their own unique maps and factions. The Americas Campaign focuses upon the Spanish conquest of Central America, so expect the Aztecs, New Spain, Mayans etc. The Britannia Campaign is based upon the British Isles from 1298 and includes the Kingdom of Norway, Wales and England etc. The Crusades Campaign is obviously based upon the Crusades in the Middle East and includes factions such as Jerusalem, Seljuk Turks and Antioch. The Teutonic Campaign is the battle between the Christians and Eastern European Paganism and allows you to choose to be factions such as Novgorod, Teutonic Order, Lithuania, Poland etc.
Although the add-ons have their appeal, I ended up having to uninstall most of them, played on the one I want, and then re-install another one. This is because each add-on game takes up around 1.17 GB, so multiply that by 4 for each add-on and then add on the 11.7 GB that Medieval II takes up and then you can come up to the conclusion that you need one good computer to hold all these games plus anything else you have on your PC.
That I believe is the main aspects of the game, but I suppose you will have to try out the game for yourself to see all what it has to offer. You will notice a lot that I have not mentioned when you play, e.g. the major role of the Papal States, the use of agents, the buildings, the differences in factions and the unique and powerful units etc. But it is terribly hard to conclude such a complex game into such a short space of time.