by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Agents and trade (cntd)
Another change is in how agents and generals are recruited. In fact, the first are not recruited at all. They spawn from special buildings that can be built in towns throughout the countryside. Rakes (Spies), Thugees (Assassins), Holy men and Gentlemen (Researchers and Duelists that can be sent against enemy agents) are each spawned from a particular type of building, which means you can’t build them yourself. You will have to wait for one to appear. Generals no longer spawn after battles, nor do they spawn from the loins of the ruling family. Instead, they are recruited directly from the army overview. As long as you have money and need, you can acquire a new General (or Admiral) to lead your army.
I am sure many of you will appreciate the increased level of control when it comes to agent character traits. Agents start with a clean slate and Generals in particular are unburdened with any traits that they might have ‘inherited’. Your own actions have a decisive impact on how agents and Generals develop. A General that sees (and lives through) many battles will quickly become more skilled at his job. However, sitting idle for too long will have a detrimental effect, causing many unwanted traits to ‘attach’ themselves to the General.
The newly introduced sea battles are by no means easy, but mastering them can make or break your empire. Ships are used to transport units across water but, more importantly, they can be used to blockade ports and raid sea routes. This can have a meaningful impact on your trade income and the only countermeasure is peace or a decent sized fleet. Sea tactics are completely different from land tactics and it will take a while before you understand them well enough to be able to win sea battles. Once mastered, sea battles are a fun diversion from the land battles that we have all come to know and love from the series.
Combat, for many the meat of any Total War game, has barely changed at all. I had expected a heavier focus on cannons in Empire: Total War, causing more impact on how battles are decided. True enough, some of the later cannon types can make a mess out of an enemy regiment but this can be largely remedied by keeping your units moving. Earlier cannon types are not very effective. Additionally, new cannon and ammunition types only become available in the later stages of the game. Perhaps the role of cannons would be easier felt if either research was faster, or cannons had more power early on.
Research is done through schools that can be built in towns that exist or spawn in regions that you control. Gentlemen can be moved into these schools, adding to the speed at which new technologies are researched. Each school can research one technology at a time, which means you will quickly be lagging behind the competition unless you are able to secure more schools. Some technologies focus on production, others on combat at land or sea, but each have a small impact on how your empire performs. Upgrading schools to universities also increases the speed at which research is conducted and opens the way to more advanced technologies. If you can’t keep up with research, it is possible to send your Gentlemen agents to spy on neighboring nations in the hopes of acquiring their technology.
No Pros and Cons at this time