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Real Time Strategy (Games) Games

Early Praise For Empire: Total War 79

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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  • Re:Lovely, but... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @02:59AM (#26255467)

    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

  • Re:Unit AI (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @04:13AM (#26255731)

    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!"
    "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 any AT wea..."
    "Get going, Private!"
    "With all due respect, you can go to hell, sir!"

    And later that day...

    "Alright Private. There's a Panzer advancing on our position, flanked by infantry and supported by an entrenched MG42, so we just need to play it cool until... Private..?"

    It was maddening at times, but it added an interesting bit of a human element to the battlefield.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Why though? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @05:29AM (#26256009)

    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 different kingdoms of that time. The sides are also based on real factions, the map is based on the world and so on. However it isn't a story of what happened, just a stage for a game. It isn't a recreation of the literal events, simply an alternate universe inspired by them.

    So who cares if it is accurate? The question should be if it is fun, and it is. I'd be all up on them for accuracy if that was what they were claiming. If they said "This is intended to be a completely accurate historical simulation of the Roman Civil War." Well I'd be on their case. However they say (quoting off the box): "Command the greatest armies of all time in Rome: Total War. Lead legions of Roman allied forces and their bloodthristy Barbarian opponents in realistic, bone-crushing battles. Experience the ultimate in 3-D cinematic action and strategically determine your path of war in an epic clash of brains, brawn, and the sheer force of will, to build your empire and control your destiny!"

    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 you took some guy who plays video games and put them in charge of the army of a nation Rome conquered that they'd be able to make things turn out so differently.

    No matter what, you are always going to face limitations in a game. You can't make a game a perfect copy of reality. The sandbox only goes so far, at some point there are boundaries. Thus I don't find it useful to try to hold games to any arbitrary realism standard unless they set out to try and be realistic. They should be fun. So long as they are that, who cares about the rest? Pure made up worlds are great, different versions of our own world are great.

  • by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:18AM (#26257949) Homepage

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

    My personal favorite is Europa Barbarorum []. 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, but I don't know if those were ever finished.

    The other big one is Rome Total Realism []. 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.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:11PM (#26260457)

    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.

    Cavalry, before the stirrup, was basically used to screen the flanks of the infantry units, for scouting, and for pursuing and hacking apart infantry that had broken formation, but it was still cavalry, not mounted infantry. Some also had a shock troop role, like later knights, but since they could only wear so much armor and needed two hands to wield a lance, they were far from what you would get with a charge of armored knights.

    The Carthaginians had good cavalry, and we must not forget that Alexander's Companions were a unit of Cavalry. Cavalry units had a long way to go, but they were quite clearly cavalry in ancient times.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @03:56PM (#26260883)

    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.

  • BTW (Score:3, Informative)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:57AM (#26265609)

    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 material by time and nation, from mail or lammenates to mere quilted cloth. They charged en masse, in closer formation than western European knights did. In many of the armies they were regulars, trained to fight in formations. In some they were also equipped with a bow for dual-purpose work.

    The clibanarii were a specifically Roman variant. The name is derived from the term for a little iron oven, and is taken to indicate that they wore some kind of plate armor.

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