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Continuing from 'Empire: Total War' this game starts you in the early 1800s as you try to prevent Napoleon's conquest of Europe. Playing as one of the members of the Coalition your goals are to capture or liberate territories under the control of the French Empire and engage in combat with Napoleon's army to bring his reign of terror to an end. Experienced 'Total War' players will both be impressed and disappointed by this offering in the series. Originally conceived as an expansion for 'Empire: Total War' which was set at the height of the colonial period during 1700-1800, one can't help but feel that this really should have remained as an expansion as opposed to a stand alone game. While innovative to some extent, the scaled down campaign map, coupled with the limited campaign game are more akin to expansions for previous 'Total War' games such as 'Barbarian Invasion' for 'Medieval: Total War'. History buffs as well may feel slightly disappointed as it skirts the entire issue of the larger colonial empires of the time in favour of focusing solely on events in Europe. The fact that the British Empire, for example, were in conflict in numerous theatres throughout the world and engaged against the French Colonial Empire in areas such as Mauritius at this point in time have no bearing on the game and especially when considering the sheer scale of 'Empire: Total War' with its North American, Caribbean, European and Indian theatres, this game seems like a huge step backwards. There are positives though. One of the most interesting and welcome new additions is the ability to liberate a province, rather than simply assume control. Should you, for example, defeat the enemy armies in Flanders, you have the option of Liberating the province, which will give birth to the nation of Belgium. This has a positive effect on the game, as a new AI army comes into play who will side with you against Napoleon and leaving managing the territory to them, rather than putting extra strain on your coffers. You can, of course, choose to simply assume control as in previous games but there is now more of a thoughtful process behind what you do and a little added point of interest in that you no longer have to play as a marauding, warmongering army of destruction and control but instead as a more benevolent, freedom fighting nation. Overall gameplay hasn't changed from previous titles and you will still find yourself trying to micro-manage your settlements, including upgrades such as better roads, naval ports, trading routes etc. and micro-managing your forces. The combat engine is much the same as that in 'Empire: Total War' only with a few graphical tweaks and a slightly more varied selection of European terrains that a battle can be fought on. Technological advances during this time allow for a greater variety of artillery weaponry which can make you sit back in awe at the graphics as troops are blown across the battlefield by your heavy armor. The AI difficulty ranges from easy to very hard with easy being exactly that - effectively watching your enemies troops slowly marching towards yours, getting shot at, running off, marching back towards yours, rinse and repeat, whereas in very hard they will try to flank you, disperse your units, make better use of their own units abilities, and cause more overall damage and inflict greater losses by doing so. Campaign difficulty can also be tuned to your preference but it has to be said an Easy campaign will grow dull very quickly, as you will easily assume the position of the greater power and be able to command your armies to victory without much struggle. Naval combat remains from 'Empire: Total War' but once again, although slightly improved, it still seems like something of an afterthought and I am yet to see France attempt to invade Great Britain by sea. Historical characters are present as generals and admirals, such as Arthur Wellesly and Lord Nelson, and provide significant boosts to your troops morale and effectiveness when in their presence. This encourages the player to put the Duke of Wellington to good use on the battlefield, particularly if fighting against an army personally commanded by Napoleon, but at the risk of losing him. Interestingly, Napoleon cannot be killed early in the game, even if you successfully assault Paris. He will instead be injured, retreat, regroup and continually attempt to retake Paris from you. It is perhaps somewhat unfortunate that despite focusing exclusively on the Coalition actions against Napoleon in Europe during this time period your allies in the Coalition often might as well not be there. If you're trying to recreate the large scale battles of the Napoleonic Wars, hoping to have eight nations battling against the French Empire you are going to be sorely disappointed. The game effectively boils down to the very same format of others, and it is quite easy to forgo any notion of being a member of the Coalition, which is a shame. A lot of DLC is available through Steam, including the Peninsula Campaign mini-expansion and new units for all the armies. The 'Imperial Edition' of the game comes in a rather nice, faux-leather textured cover and adds a few exclusive units which at the current prices is well worth picking up, especially if you are a collector. Overall, the game is entertaining but it is too hard to shake the feeling that this should have been an expansion pack, rather than a stand-alone game, and possibly the reason it has since been launched in a Game of the Year addition alongside its older sibling. There are some good innovations and slight tweaks here and there but it really is just a scaled down version of 'Empire' set just a few years after the end-date in 'Empire'. If you enjoyed 'Empire: Total War' then you will likely enjoy this if you view it as the expansion pack that it always should have been. If you haven't played a 'Total War' game but are looking for a colonial-era based RTS/TBS hybrid then pick up 'Empire: Total War' before you consider this one. Also note, to get the most out of the graphics, you will need a powerful machine. I play this on a Quad-Core Phenom II 965 with 8Gb DDR3 RAM and a Radeon 5850HD Graphics Card and I cannot fully max the settings.
Napoleon Total War is one of the many games in the Total War series of real time strategy (RTS) games. By all means this game should be considered an expansion pack, but apparently low on money, publisher Sega decided to skip the norm and go ahead and make Napoleon a stand alone game, which means they can charge $40 for the package instead of the usual $20. Is it worth the $40 price tag? We're about to find out. Napoleon starts of pretty much where it's predecessor, Empire Total War finished. The period is still around the 1800's where men exchanged their swords and chain mail for rifles and colorful uniforms. All in all, game play wise Empire and Napoleon and almost identical. There are the same formations, the same special ammo and you have to use the same tactics to secure wins over your foes. If you were to have one monitor playing Napoleon and the other playing Empire, each without a heads up display (HUD) it would be almost impossible to tell the difference. Graphics's wise both games are near identical, but it is Napoleon that oddly enough comes up short in a comparison. Empire felt like a well polished and well oiled machine, the graphics were superb and the characters looked great a varied. Personnel textures in Napoleon looked off to say the least and the facial features were a lot less varied than those in Empire. And then while outside of the in game atmosphere, you have the rather lackluster unit selection screen. Before when selecting units in Empire, each class would have a small nicely hand drawn portrait that did a great job of immersing the player into this royal and regal time frame. This time around for Napoleon, you get these ugly little 3D images of the different classes. These aren't the nice little 3D shots you'd expect. It's more like a quick shot was taken of each unit while in the 3D software they used to create each unit then thrown into the game. It became apparent that either this game wasn't getting the same polish like the ones before it or the game had simply been rushed into production. Other than the lack of the spit shine you'd expect from The Creative Assembly and their Total War series, the game is your standard affair. You have the campaign mode in which you can either play as Napoleon's France and attempt to conquer all of Europe or you can play the "Coalition of the willing" , where you can control either Britain, Austria, Prussia or Russia with each faction having their role to play in stopping Napoleon's war of terror over Europe. On top of that you have the "Napoleon's Battles" feature, which allows players to relive the French generals greatest moments and greatest battles to see if they can live up to the name of Emperor. If you were expecting a full fledged game, you'd most certainly be disappointed. Napoleon is nothing more than an expansion pack with a forty dollar title. If your a huge fan of the Total War series, this is easily a must buy but if you a casual fan, either pick up Empire instead or wait until Napoleon hits the bargain bin and drops the ridiculous $40 price tag.
The total war series kicked off with shogun total war released in 2001, to date there have been six installments to the franchise. The series is developed by Creative Assembly. I joined the series at Rome Total war, a friend lent me the disc but I put off playing it for a while as I didn't think it looked any good, how wrong I was. Rome total war is a mixture of massive real time battles between massive armies, careful turn based strategy, resource management and a certain edge of diplomacy. Based on how much I Loved Rome TW I was excited to hear that there were two more games made after Rome TW to try out, one being Empire TW and the other being Napolean TW, I plumped for Napolean TW and bought a copy, installed it and got stuck in. I was pleased to see the formula had not been changed unrecogniseably, more that the experience had been polished, dragged into a modern arena and had certain elements added and some taken away. One of the major differences to Rome TW is that there are now fully controllable naval battles. In fact when reading reviews I was led to believe that this was one of the finest points of the game. In reality however they are nothing but a nuisance. Controlling the ships is atrocious with vessels going moving seemingly of their own free will, naval battles feel clunky and awkward and I soon became frustrated with them. Another difference is that there are now trade points that when occupied by a boat provide the corresponding nation with a steady flow of resources, this WAS a nice touch and worked well in creating skirmishes between countries (its just a shame that said skirmishes result in more terrible naval battles). There is a single player campaign to, in fact there are four. I never got far enough in the campaign mode to write a reliable review as Napolean TW pales in comparison to Rome TW. Napolean TW is a good game but if you've got Rome TW then NTW offers nothing over that experience. It has much (not all) of the good points of rome TW with many added frustrations (many to do with sea battles). I would only reccomend this game if you've played Rome to death and can't stand to look at it anymore, although if you're sick of Rome TW then NTW is a similar animal, so will more than likely offer nothing that you didn't get in Rome. The only thing that Napolean does better is that it has much better graphics, but in my book graphics come a far third to gameplay and atmosphere, something it's predeccesor does far better.
I am a huge Total War fan, and every installment has not failed to impress me. That is however until they brought out Napoleon: Total War. Now don't get me wrong, it is a fantastic game. But for someone like myself, who has followed the series since their humble beginnings, this game, in comparison to the previous, 'Empire: Total War,' is a stagnant and regressive. So I would recommend anyone holding onto their copy of Empire: Total War against buying this game. And to anyone else I'd say get Empire: Total War. It's obviously set during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, so expect to see all the great nations and Empires of that time period, like the Prussians, Austrians, Russians etc. and all the famous regiments and military units. However, although I'm a fan of this time period, I find it a restrictive and disappointing period to base a Total War Game around. Unlike Empire which allowed you to form alliances, war etc. with just about anyone, NTW is pretty blatant about restricting you to fighting either the French or her enemies. There are also far fewer nations and also, to my disappointment, replaced America, India and all the trade routes (all separate maps on Empire) with absolutely nothing. They have even eliminated all North African, Middle Eastern and Asian regions that have remained in the series since Rome. And you'd think that getting rid of all of all these regions would reduce the requirements that stopped a lot of people playing Empire, but it hasn't. In fact they have somehow managed to increase the requirements. You need a Minimum of 21GB Free Space, 2GB RAM, 256 MB DirectX 9.0c and a 2.3GHz CPU Processor. And that's just the Minimum. They recommend you having an even better processor and more RAM. In my opinion this is a game that has replaces substance for style and I think this proves it. Empire Total War left me thinking of what maps they'll include next. I thought maybe Africa or the Far East perhaps? But instead they took a major step back in game play and replaced it with some flashy graphics. Something most people won't even be able to appreciate as you'll have to turn the graphics down so low on most PCs for the game to even run properly. But for those lucky enough to have a good PC, the graphics are good, but I wouldn't say they are as good as what the requirements would have you believe. They've introduced better graphics when it comes to firing guns, and the smoke it produces, and the sounds they create are supposed to be better as well. But I have never really cared for the smoke coming out of guns or realistic gun sounds. However I must concede that the Naval battles are pretty spectacular. When you watch sailors jump ship, or a cannon firing through your opponents vessel you will agree that it is very impressive. However, to end on a negative, the installation process remains slow and laborious. On my PC the game took over 24 hours to install. I guess I should explain what the game is now. Because that must have seemed like a foreign language to people unfamiliar with this sort of game. NTW is a turn-based strategy and real-time tactics game, which as I understand is a pretty niche market. So for those who are skeptical about the whole genre I would recommend an older game in the series, like Rome or Medieval II, which are both still fantastic games which you can pick up for a few pounds, as opposed to NTW, which, in it's most basic form (that is excluding all expansions and special editions) £24.99 on Steam. But to those already a fan of the genre, this game will not disappoint. The game has a bunch of options and different modes. You can play as Napoleon and lead the French to victory in Italy, Egypt and finally Europe in separate campaigns, which in my opinion restrict the freedom of the player. Alternatively you can play as the Prussians, Russians, British or Austrians and take on the French Empire in 'Campaigns of the Coalition,' which is by far my favorite option. And now thanks to modders on sites such as twcentre, you can download files and play as just about every Napoleonic nation you could think of and even some extra ones. You can also play historical battles in real time, such as Waterloo, Trafalgar and the Battle of the Pyramids. NTW has also kept the very popular Multiplayer Battles where you can play opponents from around the world in different scenarios and maps while also introducing the much anticipated Multiplayer campaigns. However, despite the tremendous possibilities of this new feature, I feel it's fallen short of what the community had anticipated. Keeping a campaign going requires both players to be online at the same time for large periods of time, which is even harder seeing as though many players come from different time-zones. NTW has also introduced the 'drop in' option which gives players in a campaign against the computer the opportunity to allow their friends or other players to take control of the AI's army in battle. This is an option I have not taken full advantage of, so I cannot give a very insightful critique. It's a very easy game to grasp, and even to master if you put the time in. And should it not have been for the modders online I would have tired of the game within about a month as they only provide you with about 5 nations to play as. But because the modders are actively creating unique and exciting versions of the game it will continue to entertain me for some time now, and I expect a lot of Total War fans aswell.