Review by Ofisil
"RTS perfection. But is it any fun?"
Medieval: Total War is a RTS game developed by Creative Assembly. The Total War series have always been among the best real time strategy games ever and in the field of realistic strategy games it's probably the best thing there is in the videogame industry. But is it any fun?
There is no actual plot here, since it is a game about the medieval era as a whole and not a certain portion of it. However the game gives you the opportunity to make history on your own in the campaign mode or just fight some very popular battles of that time. Kudos to the developers for including a lot of info about each faction and units and generally making you feel as if you are truly in the medieval times.
Replay Value: 7.2/10
Medieval: Total War isn't Starcraft, it isn't Warcraft it isn't Age Of Empires. This is a realistic war simulation, a TRUE strategy game. In M:TW everything has to do with how smart the player is. You can battle with someone that has 3 times the troops you have and still win by playing smart, by using the right units in the right way, in the right place and in the right time. The controls are easy to learn and very good, both when commanding your army to move, make formations and fight, or when you just control the camera. With tons of unit types available and more than 10 factions to choose from this game is guaranteed to keep you company for a lot of time. Since MTW is a realistic historical strategy game you control groups of units and not units that move independently or have a certain amount of health points. So if you click on the group of archers you select all 60 archers of the group and if you command your cavalry to attack all the horses start galloping towards the enemy. You can do pretty much everything with your troops that you could do with a real medieval army, like formations, different marching speed, hide in forests, command a unit group to follow a certain path and many, many more.
Attack Men!!! Err where are you guys???:
What I love in MTW is that everything has its use. When in some strategy games formations don't mean a thing, here they can make a difference in the battlefield. For example spearmen work better when they have their flanks protected, meaning that they are 3 or more rows deep, when you run inside the archers' range you spread so that less arrows hit your troops and when you are close you change into wedge formation to split a unit group in half. A smart commander also knows what its units are capable off. Marching blindly with your 1000 horses into a wall of spears isn't exactly smart, and archers might be great but need protection from the rest of your army. Also running up a hill isn't a good idea while 120 of the enemy's best cavalry units run downhill without getting tired thus killing you with ease. Fighting with your cavalry in the woods is a bad idea, sending 1000 peasants against 200 veterans isn't exactly smart and so on and so forth. One of the most important things though is your units' morale. Archers run when an enemy unit group is near them, you can force the enemy units to flee by flanking them or kill a lot of them thus lowering their morale and of course the same can happen to you and like in reality when the soldiers loose courage they are out of your control! Overall: Excellent battle mechanics!
Divide & Conquer:
While the battles are great and all that's not all there is to the game. In the campaign mode you can choose a certain nation and create a large empire in a Risk-like map. There are a LOT of things you can do in this Turn Based mode! You construct buildings that create units, improve your trade prices, improve your units defense\offense, towers that help you scout the nations that are close to your boarders, create ships and many, many more. You create armies and move them around the nations in order to defend your empire or send them to fight the enemy and expand your empire's power. You can also handle the tax percentage of a certain region or control the religion of the people. You will also have to forge alliances through marriage or through the power of money. You can send spies to scout the battlefield or assassins to kill enemy generals or even Kings if your assassin is skilled enough!!!
There's a lot that can be done here in this game but unfortunately it's not perfect. While its one of the most realistic war simulations the novelty wears off after a certain amount of battles. While you can experiment a lot with different strategies you will soon find out the ones you prefer and stick with them. Kill horses with spearmen, frighten peasants with your archers, kill the enemy general to lower the morale of the enemy troops and so on. It's good but it gets too damn repetitive. 2 lesser flaws of the game are: #1 the lack of a good and clear tech tree and #2 the unforgivably long loading times that are slow even when you just want to save your game!
MTW has very good graphics that make you feel as if you are truly in the battlefield. Upon starting a battle you can see a very large 3D field, field with small forests, lakes, rivers, hills, structures and many more. In the distance you can see the opposing army marching towards you or making battle formations and it looks so damn realistic. If you zoom in a group of units you will realize that the group is made out of many clones that have a slightly lower quality than the surrounding landscape since they are very simple 2D images. But MTW's beauty doesn't lie in zooming in but zooming out and boy what a view!!! From a distance, (the way the game is meant to be played), everything looks fabulous, with troops making formations, fighting, running away, arrows falling like rain and many more, all great and very, very realistic. Simply marvelous Now besides the battles the game looks great in the campaign mode, with a nicely designed map, message dialogues and so on. The only thing that MTW lacks in terms of looks is that everything while great gets very repetitive after a while, something pretty understandable since MTW is a realistic, historical game and not a fantasy\sci-fi game like Warcraft\Starcraft.
Both the sound effects and the music of the game are not only of high quality but also right on the spot. What I mean is that every button click, every pop-up message, every battle sound and every small or big music theme shouts MEDIEVAL!!! Especially in the battles the sound section truly shines. You begin the battle and you can only here the wind, the rain, the sea and so on upon your initial army moves and formations the music changes into a theme that really gets you going, making you eager to start the battle and feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins and when you do start fighting the music gets even better, more epic and fast paced. Besides the music the rest of the battle sound effects are really good, with realistic weapon clanging, arrows flying in hundreds, horses galloping and so on and when you command a part of you army to do something you can hear the commanding officer shouting orders in the language of his faction! The ONLY flaw here is the repetition it's a small flaw but could be avoided with a bit more variety.
-Finally! A Strategy game that needs actual strategic thinking
-Excellent and realistic battle mechanics
-Great graphics\sound\music that draws you into the medieval ages
-Good but can soon become very boring
-In dire need of a good tech tree
-Very long loading times
Cossacks 2 (PC)
Medieval 2: Total War (PC)
Rise Of Nations (PC)
Rome: Total War (PC)
With a little more careful planning this game could be perfect, but while it isn't it certainly isn't a bad game either. Medieval: Total War is one of the best realistic, historical RTS games ever so despite the few flaws it is a MUST for every Strategy fan's collection.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/14/10
Game Release: Medieval: Total War (US, 08/19/02)
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