List Price: $ 9.99
I picked up Medieval II Total War / Total War Kingdoms Gold Pack for $30 and I have to say, for that price it’s a great deal. There are months of gameplay packed into this game. I was up until 4am, 4 nights in a row!
In Medieval 2GP, you play as 1 of 17 different Factions / Nations in an attempt to use diplomacy, treachery, and military might to take over the world. The game features a Battle Mode where you can fight a Battle against AI, a Short Campaign where you must wipe out 1 or 2 rival nations and occupy a good portion of the world map, or a Grand Campaign, where you must occupy Jerusalem and a very large portion of the world. The “Short” Campaign could take you anywhere from 8 – 40 hours to finish. With the expansions, there are more maps, 13 more Factions, and 110 more military units… There is also a dedicated Modding community that has further enhanced the game.
The graphics are impressive on the high settings and it’s pretty incredible to watch 4000 soldiers clash on the battlefield with arrows raining from the sky and catapults destroying fully destructible cities.
NOTE: I had an awful time getting my NVidia 7900GT to work with this game, but I finally found the solution on a forum. Creative Assembly’s and SEGA’s websites were less helpful than a Magic 8 Ball. I’ll post the solution in the Comments Section below.
There are three types of gameplay in the game. There is a World Map where you can move armies and units across a battlefield and into enemy territories. You strategically use diplomats, merchants, religious figures, spies, assassins, princesses, and armies to thwart your opposing nations. This plays out like old school RISK.
There is faction management, where you govern your cities, raise or lower taxes, build structures that provide troops and upgrades for your army, balance your budget, put your leaders in the most optimal places, and assemble your armies. Your Heirs, Commanders, and Governors have stats… some make great generals, some make great governors. It’s up to you to put them in the right places. If you have a brother in-law who is a weak commander and not very loyal, you can send him off to fight the Mongols Far Far away from your homeland. Think of it as chlorine in your family gene pool. You don’t want his offspring inheriting your kingdom.
There are the battles. The battles are fought between units in an RTS, rock, paper, scissors, type of battle. Archers are great at long range, Horsemen can run over the archers, spearmen can set themselves in a defensive formation and impale a cavalry charge. There are also infantry (swordsmen) who fare well against the spearmen. There are literally hundreds of different types of units. There are open field battles in different types of environments, mountains, snow, forests…
There are castle sieges where you must use catapults, rams, ladders, siege towers, to take over a walled city. And there are castle sieges where you must defend your city from invaders. During a battle, you can also pause the action and issue commands, or speed it up 2x – 6x so you don’t have to wait for the troops to get into position.
If you want to play the game RISK style, you can have the AI simulate the battles and get a results screen that says something like: Victory, you lost 200 men, the enemy lost 650 men.
If you want to play the game like an RTS, you can have the AI govern your cities, while you fight the battles. It was a great idea to cater the game to both styles of play.
The AI is pretty simple in the game, and once you figure out how to play, you will rarely lose a battle. You can use units and the terrain to your advantage. Unlike Starcraft, you don’t have to kill every enemy on the battlefield. You can break their morale and get them to run away. If you see a bunch of enemy swordsmen, you can pepper them with arrows and kill half of them as they are charging, then run them down (literally) with heavy calvary. The game displays their morale and you can see when they are about to break. When they flee, you can let them retreat, or run them down to finish them off.
On the World Map, you can hide your armies in the woods to ambush enemies, or position them in choke points to halt enemy advances. If you are at war with another Christian Faction, the Pope may order you to cease fire for a few turns, which usually allows the enemy to regroup and counterattack. But you can actually destroy an enemy city without attacking it. Send spies, and assassins to take out the governor, kill the militia, and the citizens could riot and rebel against their king. If you have a charming princess, you can marry an enemy general into your family, stealing their army… or you can send diplomats to negotiate with your…
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How many games do you know where your political machinations include plotting the assassination of the Pope so as to be able to elect a pontiff more favorable to your own faction? It’s not just because the in-battle graphics are the best you’ve ever seen in any strategy game, it’s not that you can influence the life course of your individual family members by the kinds of actions they take in of off the battlefield, it’s not that you can become an economic powerhouse by deploying an army of merchants to conquer markets and put competing merchants out of business for good, what makes this game truly grand is the diplomatic warfare in which all of this is shrouded.
Military might is important, but not necessarily primordial. Have a giant, all-engulfing, land-hungry neighbor that threatens your national security? No problem. Assassinate the current Pope, elect one that’s favorable to you and not so much to him, find a way to get him to be excommunicated and ask the pope to call a crusade against him! Now you’ll have five or more other factions attack him in the name of Holy religion and he’ll be weaker as a result. You may even manage to expand your borders in the bargain.
Now, you may just be one of these people for whom this will be insufficient. Maybe the 21 different playable factions don’t quite do it for you. Maybe the different roles your agents (priests, assassins, spies, diplomats/princesses, and merchants) can play don’t impress you. Maybe you don’t care much for the guilds that offer to quarter themselves into your cities. This is where the Kingdom campaigns come in. All of them are beautiful mods of the original game with a variety of interesting twists. But even without the expansion, this game is worth buying. This said, allow me one warning: stay away from this game if you are addiction-prone.
I have recently bought this game off Amazon and have been very, very impressed with it. The only word of caution I have would be to invest in a higher quality graphics card if you are looking into this game, plus the memory requirments are steep.
I have bought all the previous Total War games, and got sick of Rome:Total War after 4 years of playing, much to my wife’s disgust and nagging, and decided to buy Medieval Total War 2:Kingdoms, to bug her that much more.
My overall expereince is very impressed. Graphics are great, battles are much harder then Rome: Total War, Politics and Religion actually play a large part. Different from Rome and the other previous Total War games, you have to please not only your own nobles, but have to make the Pope happy, usually by not attacking other Catholic Christian factions. If not, you incure the wrath of the Church and can become excommunicated, then all havoc breaks loose on you for different Catholic factions as well.
To me it seems that Medieval Total War 2 is a combination of all the previous Total War games into one. The cool assination video from Shogun Total War, the ransoming of captured prisoners and depth of troop types from Medieval Total War 1, and the stunning graphics and map (not like a Risk board but actually holding mountain passes or hiding in forests to ambush unsuspecting armies)of Rome Total War.
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