Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Game Review: Empire Total War

Cover Art
Dear Reader,

While most of my readers are likely familiar with the title, Empire Total War, produced by Sega and the Creative Assembly, I thought it might be fun to review it. This game is set between 1700 and 1799, or, roughly, in the second two-thirds of the Kabinettskriege era. 

Here at the outset, it should be noted that I will be reviewing the game on the merits of its historical accuracy, not play-ability or comparison to other strategy titles. In fact, many fans of the series  criticized this title. While many reviews noted that Empire Total War exceed previous games in map size, some reviews criticized the naval battles, and the power AI performance.

However, with that being said, the game is quite historically accurate. The game places you at the head of one of a selection of European powers, such as Great Britain, France, Sweden, Prussia, or Austria. You are in charge of directing your nations development between the years 1700 and 1799. Many random, historically accurate events can occur, such popular revolutions against Absolutist monarchy, or the creation of the United States. One of the good parts about this game is that each play-through is unique, but all retain a measure of historical accuracy.

In the campaign map, one turn is two seasons, meaning the game is split between winter and summer. The research of technology is quite important. You can decide whether you want to focus on military technologies, such as cadenced marching and platoon firing, industrial technologies, such as steam engines and blast furnaces, or Enlightenment technologies, such as citizenship and social contract theory.

There are no different uniforms for soldiers of the same nation, though many modders have created the uniforms for the various regiments of the period. Some of the various downloadable content packs have specific units, such as Prussia's, "Death's Head," Hussars, and other famous units.

One of the most technologies is, "Fire-by-Rank," in which each of the ranks of a particular unit fire in turn. This idea was not actually pioneered during this period, in fact, many of the European nations had discovered the much more effective, "platoon fire," by the 1710s. In the game, platoon fire is actually less effective than fire-by-rank.

The use of battalion squares also presents a problem in terms of historical accuracy. Forming a square took around 5 minutes, much slower than the 30 seconds in the game. This makes square formation much more effective than it was, by ensuring that the cavalry will not reach the infantry before the square is formed.                                                                                                                                                                
Finally, cannons, particularly when using roundshot, are capable of sniping enemy leaders, which is not very historically accurate.  However, despite these problems, this game is definitely the best video game to deal with the Kabinettskriege Era. I have logged an incredible amount of time with this game, and despite its flaws, manages to recreate a passable facsimile of eighteenth century video game.

Let me know what you think of Empire Total War in the comments below!

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns  

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