by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Hun…gry for battle
Attila had a few lucky breaks. He was leader of the Huns just at the time when the Western Roman Empire was on the wane. The Huns themselves had only recently begun migrating into Europe and started building an empire after previously being a nomadic tribe. Being nomadic though, allowed the Huns to excel at mounted combat. Mounted archers and javelin throwers were innovations that most of their enemies had not accomplished to the same degree.
The inclusion of Attila does make for a great addition to the Total War series. The name Attila conjures the thought of a fierce warrior feared by many in Europe in a time period that doesn’t stray too much from Total War: Rome II. Indeed, Total War: Attila feels more like a refinement of Total War: Rome II than a complete overhaul, something that most Total War fans will appreciate.
For those unfamiliar with the Total War series, Total War Attila poses itself as a turn-based strategy game on its campaign map and changes into real time strategy when armies meet an opposing force. This combination of turn based and real-time combat allows players to plan out deep strategies while getting down into the nitty-gritty controlling their armies on the battlefield.
Not all out War
But, although the title bears theTotal War moniker, politics and diplomacy plays a large part in the game, much more so than previous iterations. The appointment of family members to the running of your empire becomes an important aspect of controlling your empire. And the addition/return of the Family Tree structure makes it much easier to work out where certain family members sit in the scheme of things, as you appoint this person and that person to specific roles of either a military or civic nature. Those placed in a political office will be charged with helping to keep the populace content, and if you wish to win a war, you’ll need all the citizens on your side. Keeping them entertained can be an expensive business, but if they become unhappy, they tend to revolt against your rule. Playing to internal politics can certainly help, but you’ll need to balance finances between army upkeep and city happiness.
Diplomacy with other factions is nearly as important as keeping your own cities in check. Diplomatic relations and treaties with other nations can often be a pain though, as you can try and organise some sort of trade which seems more than fair - and often feels like it benefits the opposition more than you - with a counterpart. Although there is a general guide showing the likelihood of success, there is no reason as to what is required to increase the chance of a trade being successful. Yet trading and forming alliances with other factions can make or break your campaign.
When all else fails, start a war
But no matter how large or friendly you are as a nation, there is always someone who wants to increase their territories, or someone who simply does not like being neighborly. And that is when the War part kicks in. Attila comes with a couple of new unit types, but for the most part, Total War aficionados will be familiar with what is on offer, even if some units have different names. And as with many war games, working out which unit type works best against an opposing force is part of the fun. I did find that cavalry units don’t seem to be as powerful as was the case in previous iterations of the series, and are especially weak when fatigue kicks in after you’ve been running them around the battlefield.
Attacking armies that are positioned near cities can be painful when the initially undersized-looking army is reinforced by those sitting within the city gates. In these cases, having your own reinforcements can help. Attila, as with other games in the series, is one that takes time to master.
Improved diplomacy and politics, looks and sounds great
Really tough learning curve for beginners