Medieval II: Total War

Medieval 2 - Total War - Gameplay Screenshot 1
Medieval II (that’s latin for 2, mind you, oh uneducated masses) Total War really is an aptly named game, as it’s the second PC wargame in the Total War franchise that is cunningly set in the medieval era. Pointless and not particularly funny observations aside, it also is an excellent game. A game, console owners could only dream about. A sophisticated, smart, historically accurate and complicated game, that epitomizes PC gaming.

For the few of you that haven’t played any of the previous Total War games and dare call yourselves PC gamers and for the action-minded console masses, Medieval 2 is a game that wisely combines turn-based strategy with RTS tactics into a coherent and enjoyable, yet immensely addictive and time-consuming, whole. This means that your Civilization-esque empire building is interrupted by pure RTS battles, while you are constantly witnessing impressive visuals and experiencing a megalomania inducing atmosphere.

 

Medieval 2 - Total War - Gameplay Screenshot 2
What’s even more interesting, and I’m still talking to you dearest Total War virgins, is just how amazingly accessible and intuitively controlled this game is. And, please do believe me, this is quite a feat for such a complex and multi-tiered game. Thankfully, the two brief but enjoyable tutorials, the well-voiced and fully customizable advisors and the ever helpful …err… help buttons will make things even easier. Then, there’s always the trusty 70-pages long manual, only I seem to appreciate.

On to the veterans then. What’s new in Medieval II, I swear I can hear the infidels among your ranks ask. Is it any good? Really? Is it better than Rome? Well, to be rather blunt, yes. It’s definitely better than Rome, and even though it’s more of an evolution than a revolution in the franchise, it also is the best Total War game ever produced. The one offering the deepest gameplay too.

Most of the changes, besides the ones regarding the visual side of things (more on that later), are on the subtle side and mostly regarding the now divinely enjoyable turn-based part of the game. The role of religion for example, be it obeying (overthrowing even) a Pope, or calling for a Jihad/Crusade, even though it’s an evolution of Rome‘s Senate mechanics, plays like a totally new feature, as does the -admittedly 100% original- division of settlements into cities and castles. Non-combat units have also been expanded, now featuring princesses, priests, imams, spies, assassins, diplomats, merchants, whatnot, while the AI feels both better and more organic. Slight changes have also been added to the already brilliant RTS bits. The sieges remain absolutely fantastic, mind you.

 

Medieval 2 - Total War - Gameplay Screenshot 3
And now for the more impressive feat of Medieval II Total War: the graphics. Well, they are bloody amazing, and unfortunately to fully appreciate them you might need a slightly up-to-date PC. The game, you see, builds heavily on Rome‘s engine, updating the strategic level’s visuals and making sure the 3D RTS parts are jaw-dropping, by adding tons of special effects, shadows and quite a few thousands of polygons. The greatest improvement though, is that each unit on the battlefield is no longer a stiffly animated group of clones, but more of a proper unit consisting of individual -thus quite different to each other- soldiers, fighting in an animated way that puts Dawn of War to shame. Yes, it’s that good, really.

Actually, my only complaint regarding this brilliant game is the multiplayer part of it. Still no online campaign option, only RTS battles. Tsk, tsk, someone better have a look at the turn-based multiplayer orgies organized by dear Civilization 4 methinks… Then again, Medieval II Total War does offer you the chance to fight with 21 factions and even be a Native American hero defending his homeland against European brutality. Lovely.

That’s -easily- a (nine) out of (ten).

Play the -oviously free- demo. It’s worth it.

 

Games coming out February and March 2010

aliens vs predator new
aliens vs predator new

Games coming out February and March 2010

A lot of big games have been coming out this early 2010. More great games are coming out soon as well. The following are the ones that I like for the next 2 months:

Aliens vs Predator, February 16 for PC

Napoleon: Total War, February 23 for PC

Supreme Commander 2, March 2 for PC

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, March 2 for PC

Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising, March 11 for PC

Assassin’s Creed 2, March 16 for PC

Metro 2033, March 16 for PC

Let’s talk a little bit about them.

Aliens vs Predator
The original AVP is one of my favorite FPS games of all time. It’s actually quite scary and FAST as all hell. The new game is a remake of that game and looks to be done as its spiritual successor.

Napoleon: Total War
The Total War series is always great for (most) war gamers. I look forward to yet another title to this great series.

Supreme Commander 2
Supreme Commander 1 among my friends is known for how badly it killed their systems. I hope 2 is optimized for performance and continues the brilliant interface that part 1 had for handling your big armies. I hope they kept the awesome zoom GUI.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I wonder how strong this game will be. Can it compete with everybody out there playing Modern Warfare 2?

Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 2 Chaos Rising
The Dawn of War series I always love. They are the RTS games I usually play the most. I’ve been looking forward to this expansion for a while. Now that more of my friends got DoW 2 I have more people to play with and the game needs more content/factions, so keep them coming Relic/THQ.

Assassin’s Creed 2
Finally! I keep hearing how good this is from my console gamers. (ahem) Well maybe it will be like with Mass Effect 1 where the PC version turns out to be superior later. Either way, I will still play the living hell out of this game, at least until I destroy it.

Metro 2033
This game reminds me of a mix of the game Stalker, the movie Fatherland, and the game Iron Storm. Looks nice!

Steam Sale – Total War series for $20

total war series sale
total war series sale

Steam Sale – Total War series for $20.39

If you like your RTS games to be mega games with a ton of units on the screen, the Total War series of games are for you. All the Total War games are on sale through Steam right now for $20.39 total.

You get Rome: Total War and it’s expansion, which are obviously about the Roman Empire, Medieval: Total War and it’s expansion, again self explanatory, and Empire: Total War, that takes place around the US Revolutionary War.

The link to the Steam Sale is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1348/