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Customer Review

491 of 554 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Empire: Total War = EPIC FAIL, March 16, 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Empire: Total War - PC (DVD-ROM)
(For the most recent comments see the updates)
Let me begin by pointing out that I am a HUGE fan of the Total War series. I started with Rome, continued with the Barbarian Invasion, segueyed into Medieval II and the subsequent Kingdoms expansion. Needless to say, I was eagerly anticipating this game. I even bought a top of the line Mach V rig with all the bells and whistles and a 30in monitor to take in the beauty of it all. My machine has no problem handing the graphics settings on Ultra and I can tell you that visually, this game has the potential to be stunning (provided your computer is up to the task).

Now the negative. The game comes with Steam software which introduces its own complications to the process of enjoying ones game. Granted that the auto-patching feature is pretty sweet, but almost everything else about this system is not (See other reviews here for more details). But thats not even the meat of my beef.

Creative Assembly (CA) released this much anticipated game KNOWING that it was a beta version. After reading countless posts on various message boards, it is more than apparent that this game was not ready for release but for some reason they went ahead with it anyway. This in effect made everyone who bought it an unwitting beta tester (with all the frustrations and none of the salary). As I see it, Creative Assembly has spent all of its credibility capital from the prior installments on this piss-poor shell of a game. Thats not fair, it is 90% of a game but that missing 10% makes it unplayable (frequent crashes to desktop, white screens of death, and corrupted save files are the major issues with a few minor issues sprinkled in for good measure).

This will be the last time I purchase a game from Creative Assembly within the first six months of launch and I would advise others to do the same. Not to send a message to CA (though they deserve a swift kick to the junk for this scam), but to save yourself the money and the frustration.

5/21/09 UPDATE: Two and a half months after release, CA is still frantically attempting to patch this game to make it playable. However with every step forward, it seems like they are taking two steps back. The Battlefield AI has gone from acceptably bad to unacceptably bad. Lingering issues related to crashes still persist though the White screen of death and save corruptions seem to have been resolved. The economy system has been tweaked to make the game more difficult, some prefer the change, some do not. Modders are doing their best to put a polish on this game but some fundamentals still remain broken. My original advice to wait for fixes before purchasing still stands, this game is still in post-market Beta testing but should be fun once its completed (probably 3 months from now).

7/01/09 UPDATE: A week after the 1.3 patch, it is time for an update. Personally, the game works much better now than before. This is subjective since some people have had new CTD issues with the latest patch that were not there before. CA released a hotfix tonight to address the CTDs introduced with their latest patch. While the game is generally more fun and playable now, there are still some elements of the game that will likely require an expansion pack-sized update to address (these issues include siege battles being totally broken and unrealistic still, no cross-theater naval invasions, crap diplomacy, and Campaign AI that never retreats EVER even when outnumbered 10 to 1, just to name a few). Adding to my concern is that patch 1.4 will seek to introduce a multi-player campaign (which, if you were paying attention, was supposed to come with the game 4 months ago). That's like building a house on a unfinished foundation, bound for more Failure. Additionally, CA has decided to tweak naval units so that the biggest/tallest ships with the biggest guns and best crews will have a shorter range, lower accuracy, and slower reload times than the smallest/shortest ships with the smallest guns, despite the overwhelmingly negative response from the hardcore community that would like at least some adherence to the laws of physics. CA hears but does not listen to its most dedicated fans.
Despite all of this (which is really just most of the negative points), If you cannot wait any longer, I think its worth the current price.

If I had to rate this game again, I would give it 4 stars for fun, and three stars overall. Too bad it took four months to achieve mediocrity. Oh well, new engine, new problems, I bet future installments will have much smoother releases. Still, I advocate hesitation when it comes to purchasing future CA/SEGA collaborations.

My next update will come a week after the release of patch 1.4.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 18, 2009 11:37:00 AM PDT
netscorer says:
To be completely fair, Medieval 2 was also very raw upon initial release and it took them couple of months to bring the game to the level where it could be enjoyed without fear of crash or in-game bug. While I agree with you that CA basically uses early adopters as free beta testers, consider alternative: the game would be probably delayed by at least 3 months while CA was working on expanding compatibility with various graphic cards and video drivers. This way you can at least have a choice: buy the game now and go through the pain of waiting for the initial patches, or wait couple of months before consensus would be reached by the community that game has achieved some sort of maturity.

Posted on Mar 18, 2009 9:26:43 PM PDT
M. Farris says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 6:09:15 PM PDT
Mudig says:
You can play games on steam in offline mode.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 11:02:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 30, 2009 11:04:13 AM PDT
S. Choi says:
M2TW was not nearly as bad as ETW. I've been a fan since shogun and starting to notice a disturbing trend here: CA is headed down hill...

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2009 6:20:39 AM PDT
Raoul says:
Sorry, but comparing Medieval II to Empire is nuts. I bought Medieval II within a couple days of release, and had NO problems with it, nor did I know anyone who did. With ETW its the opposite, and a number of us bought new rigs in anticipation of the game this time. Never felt the need for any patches with MII. Say what you will about its AI, it certainly did not have the technical glitches that Empire does. CA/SEGA ought to have delayed release by at least SIX months. ETW in its current state is a disgrace.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2009 1:50:44 PM PDT
J. Koplitz says:
You all know its the same engine right?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2009 4:34:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 9, 2009 4:34:24 PM PDT
Anaximander says:
I played Medieval 2 unpatched upon release and never had a single crash. There were gameplay issues, but it wasn't that bad. My computer at the time barely met the system requirements for M2 as well.

Posted on May 10, 2009 7:08:16 PM PDT
A. Richins says:
This series is probably at the end of it's rope. They're going to take their money and run. It's been going downhill since Rome: Total War.

Posted on Jun 30, 2009 5:33:41 AM PDT
C P says:
Sega released a huge update on 6/22/09. Your review perhaps should be updated lest you trash a game that no longer exists.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2009 6:50:29 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 5, 2009 12:21:42 AM PDT]
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