previewed on PC
Empire: Total War is the fifth instalment in the Total War Series which has been running way back since 2000. Instead of fully land based like all previous iterations you will have to campaign on the high seas this time around. How will this title fair amongst the sea of fans?
Previous Total War games have always been based around building empires and armies, just like all other Real Time Strategy (RTS) games on the market. There is always a fine balance between resources and strategic deployment of troops that affects the outcome of any war, and Empire: Total War doesn’t shy from that formula. The game opts for both turn based strategy as well as real time strategy, which is an interesting choice, because it is not something I have seen often in many strategy games.
Empire: Total War finds you in the Early Modern Period, spanning from 1700 through to the early 1800s where you campaign for victory against around 50 factions including Europe, North Africa, the Americas and the Indies. With the new elements previously not found in the series you have to become a master strategist to do well with land and sea battles, new tactics and strategies in the mix.
There are two sides to battling at sea. The main conflict is ships fighting one another. But you can board other ships as well, or be boarded yourself. The main battle with ships seems fairly straight forward; as your empire grows so does the force of your navy. You are able to increase the size of your force, as well as upgrading your ships with bigger and deadlier guns to strike down your rivals.
The wind plays a huge part tactics wise in naval battles when it comes down to ship placement, movement speeds and battle timing. Using the wind system allows you to set up battles the way you want them, rather then taking the fight on enemy terms. Wind can give you an advantage while sailing into battle as well when it is at your back, giving more manoeuvrability. Headwind can often make the larger ships useless as they can’t turn quickly enough to get in to firing range.
There are more aspects besides the wind that can affect the outcome of the fight. You can, for example, use different types of ammo. Grape shots are not very affective against ship hulls or masts, but can devastate the crew aboard the vessel which in turn can render the ship slower in both manoeuvring and firing rates because of fewer people manning the ship. Fewer people on board also leaves the ship more vulnerable for hijacking by the enemy.