Most helpful positive review
87 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2009
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 enemy and harm their economy. There are many ways to topple an enemy town. You can even form an alliance with another nation, and use spies and assassins on them if you don't get caught. If they declare war on you, the Pope may excommunicate them for violating the alliance, or even launch a Holy Crusade against them! How you conquer your enemies is completely up to you.
Interface Screens: 5/10
Switching screens to manage your cities is pretty clunky and it seems that you have to click to 3 different screens to gather information before you make a decision. This gets a little irritating after a while because it feels like everything is 3 clicks away, when it should be 1 click. For example, after a battle, if you decide to execute your Prisoners of war, a box appears on the far left of the screen. Left Click on the Box and it says, "Your Commander has +1 Dread" - right click to close the box. Now find your commander on the battle map, left click on him, then double right click to bring up his stats to see how much Dread he actually has and what it means. It would have been great if that first window showed my all of my commander's stats and his location.
Issues: Diplomacy. Diplomatic Negotiations are pretty broken in the game. It feels like a die roll, instead of strategy. You may ask another nation for Map Information and offer 200 gold. They may refuse and GIVE YOU 1000 GOLD. The game would have been much better if the Map Information cost X, and you had to negotiate to get X down.
Learning the World Map and Battle Strategies is great fun and feels rewarding, but the limited AI and clunky interface keep the game from being GREAT!
The game is rated T for Alcohol References, Blood, Mild Language, a bit of innuendo, and Violence in the form of large scale battles.
Buy it cheap if you want months of light strategy and epic battles.
If you're looking for a Starcraft Killer, you should probably keep looking.