Empire: Total War Preview (PC)
Probably one of the more exciting pieces to come out of the GC, Strategy Informer was given a behind the scenes look at the latest developments for Empire: Total War.
The guys over at Creative Assembly are really pulling out all the stops for this title, and the early builds we were shown are already looking very slick. As you know, several key changes have been made to the games core, the main one being the inclusion of playable naval engagements.
The most asked-for thing by Total War fans, the developers have finally included a battle mode that lets you play out naval engagements without automatically resolving it.
In order to keep things simple, the naval arenas act pretty much the same as land areas, with the interface being similar to the land interface. There are also the odd contextual changes such as the wind direction, and the nature of naval battles themselves.
Ships will be able to move about the sea like land units on the land, but obviously they will have to move side on in order to be able to fire their main cannons. This piece of news though is not fresh, as gameplay footage has been on the internet for some time now.
Which bring us to the most exciting bit of the demonstration: the unveiling of land battle gameplay footage. With all this talk of naval battles, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that they may have neglected the land engagements, but this is not the case.
Land battles have been brought to life like never before, with the Creative Assembly going as far as to render each individual bullet and blade of grass. Individual unit animations and textures have also been improved, to give off the feel that you are in control of an army of thousands of different people, and not just an army of clones.
Obviously, since the Napoleonic Era featured different tactics and technology, the battle mechanics has been completely overhauled. It is more about ranged combat and out-manoeuvring your enemy, then charging in full on and beating the hell out of your foe. Melee elements have still been included, but it has become more of a tactical choice rather then the norm. Cover has also been added, so that certain infantry units will take cover behind a wall to avoid enemy fire. It is also possibly for the first time to garrison buildings dotted about the map or within towns and cities.
City capturing itself has also been changed to make things more realistic – you now have to destroy or completely rout your enemy from a city in order to conquer it.
The computer AI has also been re-worked, with the
system being completely different to one used in the
Another key element of both the land and sea battle engine is the weather. During the demonstration we were shown how, as the current scenario was a sunny European day, that cannon balls would bounce a lot easier off of the ground and off strong walls. The developers went on to explain how rain and other weather elements would also affect the scene in crucial ways.
What else do we know about this game? Trade and Diplomacy have been radically overhauled and improved, in order to give a more intuitive and realistic experience. For instance tax isn’t the only main source of income anymore, and the diplomacy system has been made much richer. Multiplayer will also be expanded upon, and although they were very cryptic as to what that would entail, they did say that a lot of fan requests were being seriously considered. Two player co-op? I think so. The game is not a DirectX10 only game, despite what the rumours say. The minimum specs haven’t been finalised yet, but obviously they will be higher then previous games simply because of how better it has become. Fear not though, like all Total War games, most elements of the game are scalable so that you can have a smooth gameplay experience, albeit without all of the graphical niceties.
There will be a total of 50 factions, with 12 of them
playable – although these are subject to change.
The Campaign map has also been made more accessible and streamlined, especially unit/army creation. Now you order units through their generals, and any nearby barracks build what they can, and the units automatically collate at the Generals location.
Empire: Total War is shaping up to be the best game of the series to date. The added naval battles will bring a much desired extra element to the game, and the new era has lead to some re-designs that will revolutionise gameplay. Release date is set for early February, and in all honest, that can’t come quick enough.
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