Review by Fila

"To the swords men! The enemies are at our gates once again"

The medieval times always fascinated me from the warfare point of view. It’s because the wars weren’t happening like today where a rich country sends airplanes to bomb some guys armed with AK-47’s and neither was the nuclear war a permanent threat since bombs didn’t exist. However they were fought by men armed with rocks, swords, axes, bows to name the most important. In those times a well disciplined army that were fighting with enthusiasm (usually when defending the country) and together with a general brilliant in tactics, an army of 200-300 people was able to defeat an army of 2000 people. I always loved this stuff because that’s when the true tactical masterminds are able to show their capabilities of leading an army. My dream was to see something like that in a game, where you could control thousands of units (up to even 10.000 if possible). Most of my answers were delivered with Shogun: Total War, the previous game of the same company that made the game we are talking about now. And I mean about Medieval: Total War.

This game takes place in Europe during the… you guessed it, medieval times. The game brings some new features then the ones that were found in Shogun and namely the crusades (Jihads) and perhaps even more features (I don’t remember much from Shogun, I got short memory sometimes). The nationalities that are available in the game are many and namely: the Sicilians, the Egyptians, the Turkish, the Almohads, the Golden Horde, the Byzantines, the Danes, the English, the French, the German, the Italians, the Polish, the Spanish, the Russians.

Also there are a number of play modes. You can play Quick Battle, Custom Missions, Campaign, Historical battles like Bannockburn 1314, The Battle of Hastings 1066, Battle of Stirling Bridge 10th September 1297 and historical campaigns like the ones of England, France, Barbarossa, Saladin, Richard and the Golden Horde. The game also comes with a map editor if you are sick and tired of the ones available.

Now while those are the playing modes that you can choose when starting the game, while playing you can do it in two styles, Turn Based Strategy (like most of the time and that means consulting the map and building and/or making the appropriate moves) and Real Time Strategy (this is optional and you only need to carry out when two enemy armies meet). If you do not want to play in RTS mode then you simply click on letting the computer take care of it. But beware, this is where the tactical knowledge of your general is important. You can have an army of 600 men and a general of 0 value and battle against an army of 150 men but a general of the maximum value and you can still loose. If you do decide to lead your army into the battle then the general isn’t that important. I say he isn’t THAT important… but still you need to keep him alive. The morale of the troops can make a huge impact in this game. If the general is near the troops then the morale of the unites is high, if he is not or worse he is dead then the unites morale is low and can result in a automatic retreat of the unit. Also if a lot of unites from your army dies then your army will start to worry about the many casualties and this results in a low morale too. But before engaging into battle you need to position the army the optimum way in order to have as few casualties as possible. Before the battle don’t make your troops run without a point as they will get tired and this also effects their fighting efficiency.

The real time battles take place in a 3D environment. The graphics isn’t too bad and isn’t too good neither. It’s just what the game needs. So one could say the graphic is modest. It does look nice when you have your cavalry marching and a cloud of dust raises behind them.

The other play mode which is the leading one and the most important it’s the TBS. Here you have a map in your face with territories and units on it. This is from where you control your empire and everything related to it, like building units, constructing buildings, manipulating taxes and so on. The AI is pretty aggressive and seeks immediately for alliances. Both the computer and you can send out spies, emissaries, priests, assassins to kill the general of the enemies or of the allies. Don’t be fooled, your ally WILL send assassins to kill your generals too. Your rulers wife will give birth to babies during the game. These babies, when they will reach 16 years, they will become army generals and heirs to the throne. Once your sultan/emperor dies an heir takes over. If you do not have any heirs it’s game over for you. For the AI their territories become controlled by the rebels and are easy to invade. However after some time a nation will try to rise again by appearing from nowhere and revolting against the current force in a territory. When you have a small empire it’s relatively easy to maintain loyalty but once you have a big empire it starts to be harder and harder. Also if you will invade like me, half of Europe without a brake then be prepared for some loyalty problems since the people you invaded need time to accommodate with your way of ruling (a good idea is the reduce taxing to the lowest level and keep a general with at least 100 units in the region). A helping hand in this “problem” is the possibility to give titles to your generals. Titles like Duke/Amir/Governor of a specific territory. Be careful who you assign these titles too. Every general has his vices and virtues and can be loved by the people or can be hated by the people (one of my general had a passion for young…. boys, that’s just sick). The number of unites in this game can reach up to ten thousand. But it will be pretty costly so you need a very large empire to support an army of this seize but it IS possible.

At start when an opponent retreats to the town it can be pretty easy to lay siege and falls shortly. But in time you when you/they reach fortresses and something similar laying siege is going to take a long long time.

I found the music to be pretty relaxing but that’s just me. Everyone has a different ear and it pretty much depends on the person that listens to it.

Finally, do not compare this game to Warcraft 3 and/or Civilization 3 (I know people that did). The game is very different and it will appease people that like to be able to control thousands of units instead of just 20-30 like in Warcraft.

Graphics – 7
As I said, not to great but not to bad.

Sound – 8

Replay ability – 8
It is a strategy game and every game you play might need a different approach. Especially when playing with different nations.

Overall – 8

P.S. I could have blabbered more about the game but I hope that in this review I reached the important things.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/30/02, Updated 09/30/02

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