I haven’t played the Total War series since its phenomenal roots in Shogun: Total War, nine years ago (!). With Empire’s move towards a more modern time and a focus on gunpowder, the change felt significant enought to warrant a return to Creative Assembly’s flavor of realtime strategy.
What’s weird about Total War is that I don’t think about the series as “RTS”, realtime strategy titles, though they clearly are. I guess it’s the naturalism which makes the difference – you know how people in this situation would likely react. I just get swept up in the events, weaving a narrative of the battle in my head. It’s great to setup your forces, then start the battle and make those crucial first commands to react to the enemy’s lineup. Then the weather turns sour and your flanking force gets tired from the march and can’t charge anymore and it’s up to your tiny reserve of elite rangers to save the day, ambushing the enemy’s artellery pieces in the woods.
I was expecting European battles and instead the campaign throws me into the American settlement conflicts, which I was initially disappointed with. It’s weird what an engaging videogame can do to you. I already know more about the beginnings of the United States than I used to and I’m actually eager to learn more. I might even read a book, at least if there’s one as good as Peter Englund’s Den OÃ¶vervinnerlige (“Unconquered”, I think) (Finnish here), which tells the story of Sweden’s glory days in the 17th century in a gripping fashion. Recommendations are welcome!
I haven’t even gotten into the naval battles yet, which are this instalment’s major new feature, but thus far I’m having a great time, hours just flying by as I’m lining up my cannons and cursing the weak morale of my frontline. I’m digging the campaign mode as well, although thus far it’s been very straightforward. But I’m still pretty much in the tutorial segment of the game.