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Real Time Strategy (Games) Games

Early Praise For Empire: Total War 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-nutritious-than-17-bowls-of-generic-brand-war dept.
CVG had a chance to preview Empire: Total War, the latest in Creative Assembly's popular strategy series. This installment focuses on a time period which includes the Industrial Revolution and the struggle for US independence. CVG praises the intuitive interface and the improved AI, as well as the level of detail shown in large-scale battles. Quoting: "With a single mouse click I changed my troops' attack orders to melee and sent a sea of blue uniforms sweeping down the hill at the enemy. Zooming into the action revealed a previously unmatched level of battlefield realism and detail, with each motion captured soldier actively seeking out an opponent before engaging in a mortal shoving and stabbing match. Men toppled into the mud, squirming with terror before receiving a deft bayonet jab to the windpipe. After a titanic, 20-minute struggle the tide turned my way with the enemy hightailing it thanks in no small part to a bullet to the British general's head that broke his men's morale."
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Early Praise For Empire: Total War

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  • I hope they finally improved empire management. That's the thing that was most lacking in the whole series, and it only deteriorated with each succession.

    For example: Rome Total War became unplayable to me once I realized I have to stage rebellions in my own cities, then conquer them in order to remain profitable.

    • by PachmanP (881352)
      Yeah that's one thing that frustrated me. Your cities got too big, and there wasn't a good way to reduce the overpopulation short of doing something like that or creating armies of peasants and getting them killed. That said I suspect reality was kind of like that...

      I hope this one is as good as it looks. The story campaigns might be interesting too. I've had all of the total war series except the first Medieval, but I don't think I've actually finished more than one long campaign. Getting naval bat
      • by DrMrLordX (559371) on Monday December 29, 2008 @04:32AM (#26255789)

        Actually, you could manage cities in Rome: Total War by making sure you could micromanage build orders without a governor (admit it; you moved all your family members into the field to bolster your ranks with free heavy cavalry units, right?) and then built nothing but basic agricultural upgrades. As long as you maximized the health/public order buildings and minimized the number of buildings that would add to population growth rate (agricultural upgrades, fertility temples, etc) you could get a city with stagnant population growth in most instances without missing out on any of your city upgrades. Usually the city would crap out on population growth at around 20-30k people which was manageable. In those pesky cities that would keep growing, either due to favorable conditions or due to the AI building up agricultural upgrades that you could not tear down prior to your conquest of said city, you could depopulate you city peacefully by recruiting tons of peasants (it helped if you had units sizes set to the largest size) and using them as garrison forces on the edges of your empire to keep down rebellions. Peasants were the best, cheapest unit for garrison duty. With sufficient experience (Temple of Mars anyone?) they made halfway-decent troops when deployed correctly.

        Also, you had to remember to NEVER take slaves or otherwise you'd have infusions of populace throughout your empire which could make growth sporadic and difficult to control. Not historically accurate for Roman growth but eh, whatever.

        • by sgt scrub (869860)

          Slaves were the best way to bolster income. The way to avoid huge cities, and maximize income, was to devastate every city but the ones that were strategically important for unit recovery. I would take a city, kill all the people in it, sell off everything, max out the taxes, build one peasant unit, let it rebel, retake it with my big army, enslave it, then build one more peasant unit. After that all would be fine and no enemies would attack because there was no gain. I always felt it would be cool if c

          • by DrMrLordX (559371)

            That's one way of going about it, but that's way more meta than just skimping on agriculture in every city. I found slavery to be problematic because I liked having large, well-populated cities on the edges of my empire. A garrison stack of 4-8 peasant units could tamp down rebellion long enough to start replacing buildings with Roman buildings to reduce culture penalties.

            Plus, if you had an advanced city far far away with tons of people and nice buildings, you could recruit some truly killer units on you

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OglinTatas (710589)

      "...once I realized I have to stage rebellions in my own cities, then conquer them in order to remain profitable."

      That, sir, is what we call "a deep insight into the Tragedy of the Human Condition"(TM)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by shadowarmy75 (1411273)
      If your talking about the negative income form cities, then that is incorrect as your costs are distributed around your empire according to the population of the cities. While it may look better on the cities individual balance sheet, you income would go down if you did that.
  • Malware (Score:2, Funny)

    by Panspechi (948400)
    Does it come preloaded with it?
  • Lovely, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by routerl (976394)
    ...are they making an effort to be historically accurate?

    I've always liked the Total War series (since Shogun) but must admit to having been caught referring to some of the "history" I learned from the games. Rome:TW is particularly bad in this regard. Granted that the player can drastically alter the outcome of history, for instance by having a massive Portuguese empire take over all of Europe by 1250 A.D., but it would still be nice to be playing with actual historically significant events and persons.
    • Re:Lovely, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dutch Gun (899105) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:39AM (#26255377)

      ...are they making an effort to be historically accurate?

      I've always liked the Total War series (since Shogun) but must admit to having been caught referring to some of the "history" I learned from the games. Rome:TW is particularly bad in this regard. Granted that the player can drastically alter the outcome of history, for instance by having a massive Portuguese empire take over all of Europe by 1250 A.D., but it would still be nice to be playing with actual historically significant events and persons.

      And I have a lot of hope for this one, since a good chunk of it will deal with American history which many of the developers probably know a bit more about than Roman, Japanese, or medieval European history.

      Also, I wonder whether we can now start looking forward to, say, Normandy: Total Way, which would be terrifyingly awesome. As the technology has gotten better, the series has tended to move forwards in time, with the exception of Medieval 2 which revisited a time period that had already been covered.

      I haven't played the games myself. But... aren't they giving you control over an entire campaign? I'm not sure how they can give you any significant freedom while still retaining historical accuracy, other than in a fairly broad sense regarding period tactics, strategies, and military technologies.

      Maybe a separate historical mode that sets up battles and results in a campaign that mirrors actual history? But in that sort of mode, you'd be limited to working within the framework of a single battle, of course, to try to achieve results similar to a historical counterpart.

      • Re:Lovely, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday December 29, 2008 @04:32AM (#26255791) Homepage

        I haven't played the games myself. But... aren't they giving you control over an entire campaign? I'm not sure how they can give you any significant freedom while still retaining historical accuracy, other than in a fairly broad sense regarding period tactics, strategies, and military technologies.

        Imagine, for the moment, being given complete control over the American Civil War. You would play the North under Douglas MacArthur and start with a division of Panzer tanks and two battalions of chariots from Pennsylvania. The South is split up into three different kingdoms, each headed by its own Pope, and you will need to capture their three holy cities of Pensacola, Columbus and Houston in order to win. Fortunately, swashbuckling pirates from Antigua show up every few turns to offer their services as mercenaries in your Grande Armée.

        That's about what playing Rome: Total War is like. It's entertaining, but has very little to do with actual history. It's not that the events of the campaign are wrong, it's more that the armies and people involved have all been picked from different time periods or fantasy novels and thrown together into a blender set to "purée". The end result is a reasonably enjoyable, somewhat balanced game, but it is filled with bizarre inaccuracies like the Roman legions fielding companies of archers, and Julius Caesar riding around the battlefield at the head of his own band of Teutonic knights. Don't even start with the crazy armies that come out of Briton.

        I personally enjoyed R:TW, and am willing to forgive a lot of the changes having been made in the name of game balance, but it looks like the Creative Assembly team skipped doing some of their homework there. Fans of the Total War series have been hoping for some time that the development team would have an unpleasant encounter with a ruler-wielding nun who would remind them to take their research a little more seriously with their next game.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Imagine, for the moment, being given complete control over the American Civil War. You would play the North under Douglas MacArthur and start with a division of Panzer tanks and two battalions of chariots from Pennsylvania. The South is split up into three different kingdoms, each headed by its own Pope, and you will need to capture their three holy cities of Pensacola, Columbus and Houston in order to win. Fortunately, swashbuckling pirates from Antigua show up every few turns to offer their services as mercenaries in your Grande Armée.

          Heh, that's a pretty imaginative campaign there. :-)

          That's too bad, as accurate accounts of history can be every bit as fascinating as fantasy, if told in a compelling way. It's one of the reasons I had no interest in seeing 300. The Battle at Thermopylae was an amazing story all on its own, and I didn't understand the need to embellish it.

        • Re:Lovely, but... (Score:5, Informative)

          by donscarletti (569232) on Monday December 29, 2008 @05:22AM (#26255989)

          You would play the North under Douglas MacArthur and start with a division of Panzer tanks and two battalions of chariots from Pennsylvania

          The Total War games are each set in a single time period. All of the units are drawn from the same general technology level and the cities are in fixed places. Sure, they don't hit the mark every time, e.g. the chariots and scythes being the primary weapons of Ptolemaic Egypt but they deviate to make the game more fun, not because they are ignorant. I think you're referring to the Civilization series here, Civ 3 to be precise since you have 3 units under the one general, though you should have upgraded your chariots to cavalry before you put them in McArthur's army since they cannot be upgraded when they're in there.

          it is filled with bizarre inaccuracies like the Roman legions fielding companies of archers...

          They did. They had always had auxiliary archer units and/or Roman archers called sagiterii. The Roman military during the Republic and early Empire was built around a core of heavy infantry but they realized early on that they had to field a diverse and flexible army or face devastation.

          ...Julius Caesar riding around the battlefield at the head of his own band of Teutonic knights...

          The Romans employed large amounts of cavalry units, originally mostly supplied by allied kingdoms. In fact the word "ally" comes from the Latin "allae" meaning squadrons of cavalry. The Romans won the favor friendly chieftains in places like Germania in order to supply units that the Roman legions lacked. The Tutonic Knights themselves were a later military founded well after the fall of the Western Empire and the Germans at that time were more likely to fight on foot, however the idea of a Roman general commanding German horsemen is very possible.

          ...Don't even start with the crazy armies that come out of Briton.

          You mean Celtic warriors wearing nothing save a torc and a liberal coating of woad on their faces? Much was exaggerated about the "barbarity" of the northern barbarians by classical Roman and Greek historians, but they certainly did have some quite unorthodox battle tactics.

          • by MaulerOfEmotards (1284566) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:00AM (#26257297)

            You reply in good faith and for good intentions but you are somewhat mistaken,

            First, Romans did NOT field regiments of archers. However, following Gaius Marius' reforms, in legions a cohort (8-10 centuries of 60 men) could have archers attached. These were generally placed as an archery shield in front of the front maniples and retracted when enemies approached. More usual, however, was simply the legionaries throwing their pilum javelin before equipping their gladius short sword.

            Secondly, Romans did NOT field any cavalry units. Cavalry fight from horseback, and cohesive military cavalry usage requires stirrups. Romans DID use mounted infantry though, and this could also perhaps harass enemy skirmish flankers. Stirrups wasn't invented until approximately the 7th or 8th Century. Thus, cavalry does not mean "mounted soldier". Also, the Roman social hierarchy included a "knight" class. This is not to be interpreted anachronistically as of a kind with the medieval knights, it simply means a social status above Plebeian but beneath the Patrician strata eligible for election to Senate.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Romans DID [wikipedia.org] field cavalry units, and they fought mounted without stirrups.

              A couple of famous examples are Cannae [wikipedia.org] during the Punic Wars (216BC). And at Pharsalus [wikipedia.org] during Caeser's civil war (48BC), where Caeser's troops used spears against an enemy cavalry charge.

              Stirrups are needed for the longer medieval lance and making riding a bit easier. But it is perfectly possible to fight on horse back without them.

              The mounted infantry was more common in the later era (post 300AD), especially for patrols.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by tnk1 (899206)

              Yes, the Romans had cavalry. The Roman Equites, or the "knight" class that was referred to were cavalry. They were not very good cavalry, but they were part of the Roman army. As pointed out, the Romans tended to overcome their crappy cav by using allied cavalry.

              Cavalry existed long before the stirrup, they just couldn't wear as much armor nor could they charge home with lances as effectively. They were also less effective in general, since they could not rise in the stirrups and hammer down on infantry

              • Yes, the Romans had cavalry. The Roman Equites, or the "knight" class that was referred to were cavalry. They were not very good cavalry, but they were part of the Roman army. As pointed out, the Romans tended to overcome their crappy cav by using allied cavalry.

                See, this is the problem. *Which* Romans? Remember, you're covering hundreds of years of history. It's like saying 'Americans use tanks' then putting tanks into a Revoluationary War sim.

                • by tnk1 (899206)

                  Well to the point, I don't think there was a time that the Romans did not employ cavalry, although I agree that the Equites were not the force in use after the Marian reforms. Generally, though, they had and used cavalry from start to finish.

                  As for the tank example, we need to bear in mind that over the thousand years that Rome was active in the West, they never discovered or seriously implemented the stirrup. That's most likely because the Roman mindset remained fairly fixed and the rate of technological

            • by potat0man (724766)
              Cavalry fight from horseback, and cohesive military cavalry usage requires stirrups. Romans DID use mounted infantry though, and this could also perhaps harass enemy skirmish flankers. Stirrups wasn't invented until approximately the 7th or 8th Century. Thus, cavalry does not mean "mounted soldier".

              It's this kind of blatant disregard for historical accuracy that just RUINS these games for me.
            • First, Romans did NOT field regiments of archers.

              I don't know about 'regiments', but they most certainly did field units of archers during their history.

              Secondly, Romans did NOT field any cavalry units.

              Yes they did.

              Cavalry fight from horseback, and cohesive military cavalry usage requires stirrups. Romans DID use mounted infantry though, and this could also perhaps harass enemy skirmish flankers. Stirrups wasn't invented until approximately the 7th or 8th Century.

              So... Alexander's famous cavalry charges were actually infantry charges?

              Also, the Roman social hierarchy included a "knight" class. This is not to be interpreted anachronistically as of a kind with the medieval knights, it simply means a social status above Plebeian but beneath the Patrician strata eligible for election to Senate.

              Though the Equites were not mounted soldiers during the historical period, it is thought that the designation is a survival from the early period when citizens equipped themselves for war, and the richer ones were the only ones who could support a horse.

              Please learn a bit about history before posting dogmatic dismissals.

              • by forkazoo (138186)

                First, Romans did NOT field regiments of archers.

                I don't know about 'regiments', but they most certainly did field units of archers during their history.

                From what I gather from the other poster, and my extremely spotty knowledge of both military history and roman history, archers should have been an upgrade for another unit, rather than a separate unit. In Rome:TW, if you wanted the minimum number of sword guys and bow guys, you would have one unit of each, which means basically equal numbers, which wouldn

                • From what I gather from the other poster, and my extremely spotty knowledge of both military history and roman history, archers should have been an upgrade for another unit, rather than a separate unit.

                  The Romans did do that at times during their history (and similarly with cavalry), but they also fielded archers and cavalry as separate units.

                  Note that there may have been times when they didn't -- the Roman army evolved greatly over the ~1000 years before it disappeared in the west. See "Structural history of the roman military" on Wikipedia for a quick overview.

                  A nice casual-but-not-shallow introduction to ancient, classical, and medieval armies can be obtained from the army lists published for the old

            • BTW (Score:3, Informative)

              by Black Parrot (19622)

              Secondly, Romans did NOT field any cavalry units. Cavalry fight from horseback, and cohesive military cavalry usage requires stirrups.

              This has already been corrected, but I thought I'd add that if you look up Cataphract and Clibanarii on Wikipedia you can find images of ancient monuments showing heavy armored lancers going all the way back to the Hellenistic era.

              These were the shock troops of several Near Eastern empires right up through the Byzantine period, including the Romans before the empire split. Generally both horse and rider were armored, sometimes all over, other times on the front side only, and the armor varied greatly in ma

          • by Minwee (522556)

            The Total War games are each set in a single time period.

            Which is why, to expand on your own example, the Egyptian armies in R:TW appear to have fallen through a time warp from 800 years earlier while the British ride about in chariots from 300 years in the future.

            They had always had auxiliary archer units and/or Roman archers called sagiterii.

            That's the late Roman Empire talking, when Rome could recruit auxilia from the middle east. R:TW is set in 240 BC where slingers were all the rage.

            You mean Celtic

        • Why though? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)

          What does historical accuracy bring to a game? I mean many games aren't set in the real world at all. Of those that are, it is a twisted version of reality that bears only somewhat of a resemblance. The Rainbow Six games would be an example. Terrorists have not, in fact, attacked Las Vegas and taken over hotels and an elite multinational force is not on standby to stop them. Doesn't mean it wasn't an amusing story for a shooter though.

          Well same kind of deal here. The story is based in realty, the many diffe

          • if you had historically accurate armies it would likely be impossible to win as anyone but Rome.

            Three words: Teutoberger Wald, Cannae. Though in general I get your point about Rome generally winning with almost tedious regularity. To many military historians, the interesting ones are when they lost.

          • by poity (465672)

            GP wasn't talking about inaccuracies in terms of the pacing of events.

            Those who have played RTW will know that the gp was referring to the inaccuracies in depicting the military composition and the social/political foundations upon which the militaries were built.

            An example of the former would be the inclusion of chariots and armored archers for the Egyptian faction in 280 BC when the Ptolemaic empire at the time would have fielded phalanxes and light cavalry like all the other Greek successor states that c

            • by Neoprofin (871029)
              If Rainbow Six: Las Vegas covered hundreds of years of technology, say 1700-2200, I bet there's a pretty good chance you might end up with the kind of battle you're thinking of.

              There's only so much that can be done to balance learning curve, detail, and fun. Most people don't know the difference, plenty who do don't care, the rest would be better off playing turn based hex wargames molded after specific battles.
          • by forkazoo (138186)

            Doesn't sound like they are pimping a historically accurate simulation, sounds like they are pimping a war game set in Rome. I see nothing wrong with this.

            You have to remember that for games, reality often has to take a back seat because reality is often not fun (and also often not fully simulatable). In the case of a Roman game, well if you had historically accurate armies it would likely be impossible to win as anyone but Rome. There's a reason Rome was so successful in conquering. It isn't as though if y

            • by Neoprofin (871029)
              Naval combat is sadly one of those things that people view as a depressing afterthought, only needed to get troops from one side of the pond to the other.

              I have the same desire though, I'd even settle for a really good space navy game. There are a few that come close but they always leave something lacking.
              • by Sobrique (543255)
                I've not seen many good 'navy' combat games. There's a few that are sort of fun, but mostly their 'sea' units are basically 'land' units that go on water. (Supreme Commander naval forces springs to mind. Although I suppose it does have submerged/unsubmerged/shore bombardment mechanics).

                I'm hoping that Empire Total War will implement 'full' naval combat and include things like wind direction, changing sail and gun facing. In my opinion they have quite a good track record of making 'maneuver' combat relevan

        • by astat (959047)
          Nice summary, but I think you (and most other smart reviewers, btw) are still forgetting about the most important thing: Imagine an omniscient God commanding an ancient army. That's just your role in the Total War series.

          You have instant communications with all your units. Want your phalanx formation to make a 180Â turn? Give the order, the men will start turning within the second, and be done with it shortly afterwards. In reality, maneuvering large formations was a terribly difficult task, and much

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Granted that the player can drastically alter the outcome of history, for instance by having a massive Portuguese empire take over all of Europe by 1250 A.D., but it would still be nice to be playing with actual historically significant events and persons.

      Europa Universalis

    • And I have a lot of hope for this one, since a good chunk of it will deal with American history which many of the developers probably know a bit more about than Roman, Japanese, or medieval European history.

      Creative Assembly is based in the UK and Australia. These countries both teach Roman and medieval European history but do not teach much American history at school. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that Empire: Total War will be more based around the European powers such as the British, French, Spanish, Russian,

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday December 29, 2008 @05:31AM (#26256019)

      It is quite possible to make a certain battle or a small campaign historically accurate, but you can't just make something like the rise and fall of the roman empire accurate. Else you'd win. Simply and plainly. You would already have won before the whole thing starts.

      First of all, you know the geography of Europe. If you don't, there's accurate maps available, something that the Romans would have sold their firstborn and a few more things for. You wouldn't just go and waste a sizable amount of your resources by trying to "bring peace" to the Germania because you think the world ends where Poland is today. You wouldn't go and listen to some augur telling you you're gonna fall off the world by sailing through the street of Gibraltar.

      Another important aspect of Rome's success was that most of the empires they conquered were anything but organized. Rome had a pretty strong bureaucracy behind it that could support vast armies of professional soldiers, something no other empire of the time could. Most of their enemies were smaller, badly organized tribes and empires that didn't really have the same centralized structure of the Roman Empire.

      And this goes on throughout all the ages and games you could make out of them. People, great people, all made great mistakes in the way they waged war and led their countries. Spain wasted insane amounts of money trying to find a way to the far east, as did Portugal (one trying to find a way towards the west, the other trying to sail around Africa), and both just realized that it's unprofitable to do that. You know that, and you would most likely not waste your gold on such endeavours. Instead you'll invest in gunpowder and research the weapons behind it because you know that's where the future of warfare is. You would probably not search for the philosopher's stone, though, or try to turn shit into gold.

      And so on.

      You cannot create an accurate game of this scope and be true to history. You have to sacrifice at least part of it to make the game balanced and playable.

    • by Clazzy (958719)

      And I have a lot of hope for this one, since a good chunk of it will deal with American history which many of the developers probably know a bit more about than Roman, Japanese, or medieval European history.

      Actually, the developers are British.

      Besides, I don't think they've ever set out to be 100% accurate. I think they'll keep key events and ideas in but they'll be creative. I read somewhere about them putting a weapon in that was considered to be an early machine gun. It never took off and became used in the real world but they put it in anyway.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      I've always liked the Total War series (since Shogun) but must admit to having been caught referring to some of the "history" I learned from the games. Rome:TW is particularly bad in this regard. Granted that the player can drastically alter the outcome of history, for instance by having a massive Portuguese empire take over all of Europe by 1250 A.D., but it would still be nice to be playing with actual historically significant events and persons.

      There was a big debate over on the Europa Universalis 3 (a s

    • by EvilMagnus (32878)


      And I have a lot of hope for this one, since a good chunk of it will deal with American history which many of the developers probably know a bit more about than Roman, Japanese, or medieval European history.

      Creative Assembly is based in the UK; their developers probably know more about Roman & European history than they do American. ;-)

  • I hope they fix the unit AI. In the last couple of iterations, my men spent more time running around in circles trying to 'stay in formation' than actually charging. I think there is more fun to be had giving orders when they are actually being obeyed.
    • Re:Unit AI (Score:4, Funny)

      by routerl (976394) on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:50AM (#26255443)

      I think there is more fun to be had giving orders when they are actually being obeyed.

      That's why I shoot deserters.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dutch Gun (899105)

      I think there is more fun to be had giving orders when they are actually being obeyed.

      You'd have hated Close Combat then. It was a feature of the AI that they'd refuse orders they felt were unreasonable (suicidal). Or sometimes they'd get stupidly brave and charge the enemy on their own, or become demoralized and scared, eliminating their effectiveness as fighting units.

      "Private Murphy!"
      "Sir!"
      "Do you see that Panzer over there, the one advancing on Bravo Squad's position?"
      "Yes sir!"
      "I need to you go charge that tank and take it out! We're counting on you son!"
      "Uh, sir, I don't really have

      • by ggvaidya (747058)

        I loved that game :-). Partially because I'm a horrible tactician, and it helped that my soldiers would refuse to do anything stupid. But mostly because it was a thrill when a group of soldiers held a position against unsurmountable odds, or a group made a very brave attack under heavy fire. It made the soldiers seem more real; you try to keep them as safe as possible. With a game like Age of Empires, I don't think twice before sending "troops" to their death; after all, neither do they.

    • There are some units, especially some of the elite ones, that have the attribute of "Will charge without orders". If you don't want that to happen, you shouldn't deploy them.

      Although, granted, it is an annoying attribute that I would have had whipped out of my armed forces.
  • Its level of addictiveness is next door to crack.
    I remember many weekends I've wasted with the previous games in the series. Once clocked in 20hours of continuous play. Looks like I might finally be able to break my record once this gets released.
    The good thing though is that Online gameplay is not it's "major" component so you wont be quitting your job/school for this.
  • Oh my, how games have progressed since Capt. Kaper [javakaper.dk] (1981) and North & South [wikipedia.org] (1989) which stole away so many hours of my youth!

    From time to time, I am utterly amazed at how detailed they can make things these days. I used to say that, with the advent of incredible (or rather, finally credible) graphics, games tended to not put as much value in actual gameplay. The games I've played this last decade have, therefore, been mainly the "good ole ones" as well as "seemingly simple" games (in the way that, say,

  • I think these will be the most interesting part of the game, I remember naval battles being present in a similar game, though I can't remember the name. The main issue is the plain difficulty of them, with the multiple clicks required to do the most basic of functions in terms of shooting. My preference will be that they maintain the difficulty rather than make it too easy and basic, I'd love to put my sailing knowledge to get close hauled and then fire abeam to my enemy!
    • by flewp (458359)
      Are you thinking of Imperial Glory? In some respects it shares very similar gameplay to the TW series. That is, your empire building and management is turned based, and the actual battles are real time. It included naval warfare as well.
      • Ah yes, that was the game! The naval warfare in it seems to be what Empire:TW will use, at least the idea of it.
  • ...It's a significant buzzkill when you get up-close to in-game buildings, trees etc and they are way off scale, because of lazy developers/artists. Rome:TW suffered a bit from this, but the worst culprits are always flight sims.
  • Total War Series (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mseeger (40923) on Monday December 29, 2008 @08:14AM (#26256679)
    Hi,

    i like the series since it's first implementation: Shogun.

    But the AI was never something to write home about. Neither on the tactical nor on the strategic level it ever posed a threat. So any improvement here would be a very welcome. But i have my doubts. I'm playing quite a lot of strategy games. I never found an AI which

    • ... could manage a fighting retreat,
    • ... has an understanding of the "schwerpunkt" concept and
    • ... knows when to avoid a fight.

    Some AIs have shown a little of one or the other, but none was ever strong on those issues. Typical "human" cheats against comuter opponents are:

    • Split their territory into two parts. Usually the computer treats the loss as any other and doesn't recognize the disadvantages.
    • If outnumbered, you can usually save most of your troops by splitting them. Offer the computer a small sacrifice and withdraw yout host in the opposite direction.
    • Usually an AI has "modes" as agressive, defensive, etc. If the computer is in an agressive mode, invite them to attack your strong points.
    • Typically AIs have problems with counting their enemies. Decision are based on the strongest force. Split your mighty army into small hosts but keep them close together for mutual support. An AI avoiding the large host may attack now.

    These are only examples. What i miss in an AI is the impression, that the AI has some kind of strategic plan. AIs never try to mislead me. So there is a lot of room for improvement.

    I love beating my oponent.... so i hope the AI doesn't get too strong :-))).

    CU on the battlefield, Martin

    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      ... has an understanding of the "schwerpunkt" concept

      I'll admit, I had to look that one up. This refers to as a concentrated focal point during Blitzkrieg [wikipedia.org] style operations. I'd guess the colloquial term would perhaps be "spearhead?"

      I think it would be an absolute blast, albeit a mighty challenge, to program an AI with some of the concepts you've talked about.

      • by mseeger (40923)
        Hi,

        sorry, i thought that this german word is heavily used by strategy buffs.

        "Spearhead" is the english word for "Angriffsspitze" and is quite different from "Schwerpunkt". The best (and even though lacking a lot) translation would be "main focus". I heard several americans using the german word, since the english translation doesn't catch the meaning quite as good.

        Sincerely yours, Martin

      • Your spearhead is probably aimed at your schwerpunkt. You could have just read the article you referenced [wikipedia.org] :-).

        Schwerpunkt translates as 'heavy point' or 'emphasis.' Basically, where are you going to try to break through your enemy lines. The blitzkreig concept was to hit the enemy line hard at a point, break through, then, rather than rolling up the enemy flanks, just keep going, cutting supply lines, farking with rear element and support elements, and heading for your strategic objectives.

        Remember that

    • I never found an AI which ... knows when to avoid a fight.

      I found quite the opposite problem in Rome and most especially Medieval 2, in that the enemy seemed absolutely terrified of facing me in open ground if I took an even slightly agressive stance. Any attacks seemed to lead to the enemy almost immediately fleeing back to their local town/castle and waiting for me to come to them.

      While this may have been a reasonably sound tactic for slowing down an oncoming army, it annoyed me no end as I just don't think the seiges are up to the standard of the open field en

      • by mseeger (40923)

        Hi,

        found quite the opposite problem in Rome and most especially Medieval 2, in that the enemy seemed absolutely terrified of facing me in open ground if I took an even slightly agressive stance. Any attacks seemed to lead to the enemy almost immediately fleeing back to their local town/castle and waiting for me to come to them.

        It surely knows how to avoid a fight, but not when :-). I meant "when" in the sense of "picking the right time". Sorry for the missunderstanding.

        Yours, Martin

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        Yeah, sieges annoy the crap out of me in TW games. I would do one of two things.

        If I wanted the castle/city right away, I'd bring up so many troops that I could not lose, and simply hit automatic battle and win.

        If I didn't have enough troops to gamble on an auto battle, I'd simply siege them until they sallied and wait for them to attack me. This usually happened on a field away from the city so that they couldn't simply hop inside the walls again. I would then crush them, but even if I didn't completely

      • by Sobrique (543255)
        I don't mind fighting around castle walls, or wouldn't if it weren't for just how irritating the pope got with 'cease thy charge Or Else'. I ended up making sure that every army carried a full complement of spies with it, to bundle into the citadels, and open the gates, as that was far quicker than laying siege for 10 years, or trundling around with a large enough complement of siege weaponry to punch through each of the tiers of walls.

        It also meant that you got to keep the defenses intact, which was alwa

    • by jtesorie (1421305)

      • Usually an AI has "modes" as agressive, defensive, etc. If the computer is in an agressive mode, invite them to attack your strong points.
      • Typically AIs have problems with counting their enemies. Decision are based on the strongest force. Split your mighty army into small hosts but keep them close together for mutual support. An AI avoiding the large host may attack now.

      Aren't these two battlefield challenges real-world problems that aren't specifically AI issues?

      I'm no historian, but I think the two above items are how Meade defeated Robert E. Lee in the "Battle of Gettysburg".

      I know it's more complicated than that, but I guess some seemingly "obvious" errors of judgment on the part of the AI might make for a realistic simulation. I guess it's not fun if these AI tricks are easily repeatable, though.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      I would be happy if the AI simply learned how to use their vastly superior forces to be able to take a bridge from me. In RTW and MTW, I recall that I could hold off vast legions of enemy units by simply putting 2 or three units of some form of dense spear formation on my side of the bridge and simply letting the enemy charge over the bridge, make this huge mass of troops and just sit there to be massacred by my two or three units.

      If I actually had a significant amount of archers and (God help them) artill

      • by Sobrique (543255)
        I did have a few slightly messy 'bridge' fights, or 'water crossing' fights, but you're mostly right - the computer player was far happier to sit over on the other side waiting for you to emerge from the chokepoint than to chokepoint you and slap you silly like it should. Of course, bridge defenses shouldn't actually work all that well with adequate archer support - longbow were an excellent counter to the 'sit and wait for the opponent to arrive' tactic, as you got to soften them up massively before you ch
  • I admit I enjoyed Rome:TW and Shogun:TW, but I have had my doubts about the historical accuracy of the TW titles. Of course they should first and foremost be fun games, so I can understand that if something needs to suffer to preserve the enjoyment of playing, historical accuracy might go by the boards. My problem is that I think a lot of people learn their "historical" facts from sources such as TV, Movies and Games - and none of those media have the slightest interest in presenting objective facts.

    I expec

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fallingcow (213461)

      I don't know about Medieval and Shogun, but Rome has a couple of excellent realism mods.

      My personal favorite is Europa Barbarorum [europabarbarorum.com]. They even use the local names for cities and factions, rather than the Roman ones (e.g. Carthage isn't called Carthage, the cities in Gaul have Gaulish names with no Romanization, etc.) and have their generals giving commands in the faction's language, at least for the Romans and Greek successor states--I think they were working on the Celt, German, and Arabian factions, too, b

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        The other big one is Rome Total Realism [rometotalrealism.org]. Also damn good. I played it until I found EB. Much more Rome-centric, ignoring a few large nations at the periphery of the empire in favor of including minor but closer groups like the Illyrians. Uses Roman names for most (all?) cities and factions.

        I'm confused. Didn't RTR actually make the map significantly larger to the east and add even more non-Roman factions like the Bactrians?

        On the other hand, I played RTR a long time ago and they may h

        • Yeah, they added some factions and did expand the map, but there's an unfortunate hard cap on the total number of factions, forcing modders to make sacrifices.

          I think EB's map goes a bit farther east still, all the way out to the limit of Alexander's conquests, so that there's a real frontier on the edge and the far-east successor states are better represented.

          The also include a major Arabian power that isn't in RTR, and IIRC the organized tribes of the Steppes are more accurately depicted. IMO, they handl

    • Yeah, those Brits at the Creative Assembly, always taking the Americans's side!

  • It bothers me somewhat that the release of this game includes 'exclusive units'. Game, Play, Amazon each have their own 'exclusive unit' unlock code. (Death's Head Hussars, USS Constitution, Dahomey Amazons respectively). The Special Forces edition also includes unlock codes for 6 other exclusive units (HMS Victory, Rogers Rangers, Ottoman Organ Gun, Ghoorkas, Corso Terrestre Guerillas, Bulkeley's Regiment).

    I think that bothers me somewhat. It's only in the campaign, but none the less seems... well, somew

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