Product Type: Sega PC games
Newest Review: ... though. One of the most interesting and welcome new additions is the ability to liberate a province, rather than simply assume contro... more
Should have been an expansion.
Napoleon: Total War (PC)
Member Name: Nitrostar
Napoleon: Total War (PC)
Date: 21/01/12, updated on 22/01/12 (7 review reads)
Advantages: Some good innovations. Graphically brilliant. Interesting time period.
Disadvantages: Already done bigger and better in Empire. Extremely demanding spec-wise.
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.
Summary: You can't go far wrong with this game but you could go better with Empire.