copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Medieval II: Total War



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Impact: Memorable

Unfortunately I no longer posess the time to write professional reviews with no spelling errors, but I felt that this review was most nessesary for what might be a highly overrated game. So let's get to the essense.


Medieval 2 Total War is the fourth in series of realistic RTS games by Creative Assembly. This game centers its attention on the first half of the second millenium. These are the volitile times of crusades, Eastern invasions, internal European power struggles and the discovery of Americas. GAMEPLAY


Medieval 2 offers several game types for all tastes, ranging from a lengthy and complicated campaign to a quick battle with either the computer or an on-line buddy. The campaign gives the player the fullest experience. Once the player chooses one of three initially availible factions (there are many more that can be unlocked through playing), he is put on a campaign map, which is a 2D/3D representation of the map of Europe, the MIddle East and, later in the game, the eastern shores of Americas. In this turn-based mode the gameplay is much like in the famous old-time strategy game Risk. In this mode the player manages the building of his cities and castles, the recruiting of military units and politics. A lot of the events on the campaign map are decided upon through chance play. Depending on a certain skill, a character of a faction (an assassin for example) has a certain chance of succeeding in a mission and improving his or her skill.


When one of the player's armies collides with an enemy army, the player has a choice to either auto-result the battle by calculating chances or the player can lead the army himself in real time on one the game's many maps. The situation in the real time mode is highly influenced by the situation on the campaign map, down to the way an army is facing when attacked. Strategically, Medieval 2 is endless in its value. So many things to consider and to do, the player will have his hands full trying to optimize everything for the best results. From sieging castles to training assassins, the game offers enough that the player will come back long after the main campaign is beaten and still fill his evening with entertainment. Although war is almost inescapable, a peaceful way to each problem is possible through politics. Unfortunately the gameplay suffers from a few general flaws, most of which are AI-invloved. Other factions will attack the player for no particular reason at the worst for them moments. The very next turn after declaring war, that same faction might offer ceasfire accompanied by a sum of money. Enemy armies will, at times, be sent to the player in tiny and easy to handle sizes, instead of one unstopable force.


Moreover, Medieval 2 is not user-friendly. The in-game tutorial doesn't explain a lot of things. Back in the first Medieval the effects weather and terrain had on each unit were stressed. The weather in the RTS mode is quite dynamic and untill this day I'm not sure if the heavy rain affects the cavalry like it did in the first part of Medieval.


Medieval 2 also comes with certain glitches. Some of these can be recognized from all the previous Total War games, while others come as extras to the old ones. The main field where this is visible is again the AI. There are moments when a whole unit of 150 soldiers will be decimated because a single soldier "disobeys" the order to retreat resulting in the rest of his unit to freeze during their retreat (with their backs turned to the enemy, of course). Sometimes, when persuing the enemy, a cavaly unit will suddenly scatter apart like a bunch of cockroaches in the light. The reason for some of these AI issues might be in the new system that separates the soldiers as individuals as they engage in battle. Whatever the reason, it is not an excuse to leave the problem unfixed. The patch that was released for the game fixes some of the problems but the most noticable ones stayed. These problems don't occur all the time, but their occasional appearance is more than enough to spoil the whole experience. GRAPHICS


There's no doubt that Medieval 2 is a visual marvel. It's good looking even for a first person shooter, and thus it gets extra credit for being an RTS. The system requirements, although demanding, aren't diabolic for the level of graphics provided. The different layers of textures ensure in the RTS mode that while the player can great a near-complete overview of the battlefield, he can also zoom in to see the face and armor differences on each soldier, each of whom is randomly generated from different parts. Light bloom adds an extra shine to everything and the game is also quite colorful. Most detailed are the military units and structures. SOUND


There seems to be a sound file for everything in Medieval 2. From explosions to arrows cutting through the air, the sound helps increase the game's already epic proportions. The music, once again done by Jeff van Dijk, doesn't strike to be as inspiring as it was in the previous Total War games, but it's undoubtfully well suiting. The music is dynamic, reacting to the events on the battlefield.


CONCLUSION


Medieval 2, like most other games currently on the market, has fallen victim to the visual hype. The creators have given so much attention to the graphics, yet the age old issues are still not fixed. Add some new annoying issues to the old ones and a deeply involved player will soon get deeply annoyed with some of them. Although you could write a book on Medieval 2, it could've been more than it is.