Having been a fan of ROME: TOTAL WAR (plus its data disks), I was eagerly awaiting this latest game in the franchise. Happily I was not disappointed!
Anybody who has played the previous TOTAL WAR games will know what to expect here. Players assume command of one of the main nations of the period (France in the three Napoleons Campaigns or either England, Prussia, Austria or Russia in the Campaigns Of The Coalition), make turn-based strategic choices on the map and, when opposing forces inevitably meet, fight battles in stunning 3D real-time combat.
SEGA has ensured the presentation is highly polished and worked hard to ensure the graphics are top notch. Zoom in on a unit, for example, and the soldiers have different faces! This attention to detail is a huge bonus but despite the nicely rendered graphics the action only rarely slows down, even when there are numerous units on screen.
The campaign map is a nice 3D affair with various levels of zoom but this does occasionally give problems when moving units, especially in hilly terrain. Movement is simplicity itself, merely a select and click system, and the troops will march as far to their destination as time and/or movement points allow.
Running a successful empire is made easy thanks to a clear, well laid out game interphase. Governmental policies, troop recruitment, building requirements, advancing technologies and diplomacy are all easily accessible and the current date and treasury money are always displayed.
Various building types can be selected for each province - both military and civilian - and troops recruited but they all take a number of set turns to complete. Armies need generals and these can be assigned (at a cost) whenever they become available but as the number of leaders is limited careful selection of the possible candidates is a necessity.
Both land and naval battles can be fought depending on the current situation and once more ease of use is the order of the day. Units are given orders and certain conditions can be set - such as ammunition for artillery/ships, skirmishing attitudes, defending key locations and troop formation - while various weather/wind effects and terrain all contribute as to how a battle is fought. The commanding officers are displayed as units too and may become casualties of war like everybody else, although they can also inspire the troops and rally routing units to bring them back to the fray.
Despite the vast numbers of troops involved in larger battles, they are easy to manage but orders can still be given in Pause Mode if things become too hectic! The computer AI is not the strongest though and the computer often tends to favour frontal assaults which can leave it highly vulnerable to flank attacks.
Naval clashes are similar to land battles but here the wind plays a major part in proceedings. Ships can be ordered to bombard enemy vessels to either sink them, kill the crew or destroy rigging if a boarding action is preferred. Sometimes vessels can catch fire and explosions as a result are not uncommon!
Players need a STEAM account to play the game. Through it they receive free updates, can purchase downloadable content if desired - such as new units, set piece battles and scenarios - and the game itself comes with a unique code for the free Elite Regiment Pack of five additional units.
Not since the (now budget priced) IMPERIAL GLORY has a Napoleonic Wargame looked so good. After adding NAPOLEON: TOTAL WAR to my PC collection, though, that other game has hardly had a look in and this SEGA hit is surely one even The Little Corporal himself would have been proud of!