by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
One thing that did change is the intelligence of computerized opponents. In fact, they can be utter morons. Even novice commanders will be able to outwit the enemy AI, but your own units are just as stupid when they are not being told exactly what to do. I have seen Camel regiments stuck behind buildings because they refused to turn back and walk around the obstructions. I also saw enemy regiments being slaughtered one man at a time by ranged units at point blank range. The AI’s only reaction was to close the ranks when a man fell.
The men and women of Creative Assembly moved the graphics a notch up, as they have done with each iteration of the series. Be sure to play the game with a decent graphic card. Your PC will be hard pressed to keep the pace with the settings to full on even newer graphics cards models. The new sea battles are a sight to behold. The water is absolutely gorgeous and the ships are intricately detailed. I turned down the graphics when my PC was having a hard time handling one of the Road to Independence maps and this had only a small impact on how things looked, but made a positive difference on the game’s performance.
Stability and performance
While Empire: Total War is a great game, it is being brought down by a number of issues. My first introduction with the game started badly with Steam reporting server problems and various other weird issues. Throwing a number of curses towards both Valve and Creative Assembly when my second attempt failed seemed to help. My third attempt of installing the game worked and I could finally play.
Unfortunately my troubles with the game weren’t over. The voices that introduce the player to the various gameplay mechanics stuttered, then shut up in the middle of a sentence. I wish the crashing issues were so easily fixed. My first campaign game crashed after about 15 turns, my second game didn’t make it past turn 20 and my last game lasted for 52 turns before it surrendered to the sloppy finishing of the game’s innards.
Performance is also an issue. The game recommended me to play with high settings with anti-aliasing switched off. It didn’t take long before I had enough of the frustratingly slow framerates on the overall map. Setting ‘water’ and ‘air’ to low eased some of the performance issues, but not all. Selecting a unit in a town may actually stall the game for a few seconds as it calculates how far that unit can travel (Madrid is awful).
An odd issue occurs when selecting an agent and telling it to leave a city and head for an enemy town. There is a very good chance that it will not be the agent but your army marching through the city gates. There are numerous little things such as these that make the game feel unpolished and frail.
Woe is me
It is not often that I start writing my review for a game with a mindset that is torn between awe and frustration. I can’t get my current game of Empire: Total War to continue anymore. The game is broken. I am too disgruntled to start a new game right now, leaving me ample time to write up the review you have just read. I am sure that the game will be fixed with a patch somewhere down the line, and have tried to give a fair score that is not solely based on the stability and performance issues. However, the game that you will be buying in the stores is unfinished and the score given should reflect that.
No Pros and Cons at this time