A Grander Armée: Napoleon: Total War Announced

By Kieron Gillen on August 19th, 2009 at 12:05 pm.

You can say many things about CA, but they take the best fucking screenshots.

Sadly, there’s no room for a “Aren’t You A Little Short For A Dictator?” gag in the subject line. C’est la vie, as Napoleon might have said with a Gallic flourish. News breaks from the European Land-Mass Videogameisual Show that – as perhaps expected – Creative Assembly are adding using the tiny tyrant as their next step on from Empire: Total War. CA’s interview with IGN is about the only information in the public sphere which isn’t in the press release, their site gubbins or the trailer. You’ll find all of them, for your convenience, beneath the cut.

The press release:

TOTAL WAR LIVES THE LEGEND

Direct The Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte in Napoleon: Total WarTM.

LONDON & SAN FRANCISCO (August 19th, 2009) – SEGA Europe Ltd. and SEGA of America, Inc. today announced Napoleon: Total War, the first in an all-new story driven branch of The Creative Assembly’s multi award winning Total War RTS franchise. Napoleon: Total War will keep the franchise’s genre-leading 3D battles on land and sea. The turn-based campaign is split into three different story-driven campaigns, telling the story of the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte through his most famous battles.

In Napoleon: Total War, aspiring generals have the chance to play as the legendary French general Napoleon Bonaparte or as one of his opposing factions. Battling through his three biggest military campaigns, the game will take you through Italy and Egypt, narrating the early years of the fearsome commander, while the third campaign will tell the story of his fateful drive towards Moscow and, ultimately, his showdown with the Duke of Wellington at one of the most famous battles of all – The Battle of Waterloo.

“In Napoleon: Total War you get to actually be Napoleon – to face the problems he faced, to win the battles he won, and to build the Empire he built. Or better,” commented Mike Simpson, Creative Director at The Creative Assembly and father of the Total War franchise. “However, the game allows you to step in the shoes of his opposing generals as well, allowing the player to rewrite history as they see fit.”

Napoleon: Total War expands on the successful Total War series by taking all the features from previous games such as the full 3D land and naval battles, the detailed campaign map, and an in depth diplomacy system and taking them a step further.

Their website gubbins:

History is as yet unwritten.

Napoleon: Total War™ is the new chapter in the critically acclaimed Total War series and opens up a new narrative layer to the genre-defining franchise. From the early Italian campaign to the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon covers two decades of relentless battles, a backdrop of a world in flames against which the story of an extraordinary military career unfolds.

Whether you play as the legendary General or against, the outcome of war can never be guaranteed. The course of history relies on your ability to lead your troops through the most intense battles as never seen before in a Total War game.

The genre-defining franchise brings Napoleon to life:
Napoleon: Total War defines a new standard within the genre with exciting characters and a cinematic narrative, mind-blowing battle sequences and an unrivalled mix of turn-based and real-time strategy.

Three new episodic campaigns:
Take command and lead your armies on land and sea over three campaigns: Italy, Egypt and Mastery of Europe. The seamless mix of objective-based missions and sandbox experience makes this the most complete Total War experience to date.

Cutting-edge multiplayer:
Napoleon features fully integrated multiplayer modes and a complete set of online functionalities: Steam achievements, gameplay bonuses, uniform editor and voice communications.

All new Napoleonic battles and units:
Advanced weaponry enables new tactical options and even more exciting real-time battles on an epic scale, while the highly detailed environments and improved battlefield buildings guarantee a realistic recreation of famous historical battles.

Hmm. My top level view raises an eyebrow a little – the talk of mixing the sandbox and the set-pieces is an interesting approach, but it does lead you to wonder exactly how much freedom there’s going to be in them. Reading the IGN interview, there seems to be a case of creating an objective – say, pushing back the fucking Austrians – and then being able to go about it how you wish. Will this allow them to keep the narrative core they like while giving you the freedom of action? God knows. And it’s a bit of a shame there’s no talk of – say – expanding the timeline of the previous game into the 1800s.

But still – the Total War expansions have tended to be a more coherent, focused experience than the game they sprung from. I suspect this is one thing Empire could really do with. It’s looking for a February 2010 release.

That said – it doesn’t actually say that this *is* an expansion pack at any point. I suspect we’re in expandalone territory.

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118 Comments »

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  1. Rob says:

    I know it’s going to be good, But i’ve always wanted a total war game that breaks from history a bit and lets you conquer the entire world.

  2. Derf says:

    I skipped on Empire TW entirely. Fundamentally unfinished. I’m not sure if an expansion can fix that.

  3. Professor says:

    Buying ETW was a mistake for me. It’s a heavily bugged and unbalanced and uninteresting game. Medieval 2 FTW.

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    Rome probably remains the best game.

  5. Andrew Dunn says:

    Empire is one of my favourite games this year and this adds proper hats to the linear warfare that I am so fond of. Cannot fail.

  6. Professor says:

    Yeah Jim, I won’t deny that rome, for me, was the first TRUE total war game. It’s an epic game by any means.

  7. Nurdbot says:

    I knew they were going to do an expansion for the most interesting part of the late eighteenth and early ninteteenth century for ETW. I would have gotten ETW if this was included in it.

    Will I get? only if Modders can somehow port some of the content into ETW.

  8. Heliocentric says:

    Really, i need them to make a total war where the ai is open and the whole platform modable.

    Until then i can’t really bring myself to care about the games. Empire was the chance to start from scratch. SEGA have made their priorities pretty clear, milk it til its dry.

  9. Tunips says:

    Suggestion to people who like lines of men in bright uniform, but don’t like Empire Total War: Play Cossacks 2. ‘Tis good.

  10. Mat says:

    Where does napolean hide his armies?
    and yes MTW2>>>Empire Total War. I played

  11. Bossman says:

    Meh, I’m more looking forward to HistWar: Les Grognards.

  12. RGS says:

    Here’s what I said on the CA forums, where the view seems to be that this is a standalone ‘game’, not ‘expansion’. As an expansion I’d be fine with it (especially if it extended Empire’s Grand Campaign), as a game, though I might pick it up, I’ll be sticking with Empire. Anyway:

    ***
    Initial thoughts:

    Doesn’t sound like a fully fledged TW game. Seems like a little more than a standalone expansion.

    With the time period close to Empire I would have MUCH rather it could have been integrated with that.

    Would rather have one open Grand Campaign than 3 semi-scripted Episodes. Not a fan of scripted stuff, the longer the campaign + more freedom for the player the better IMO.

    Very short timeline, not necessarily a problem, but doesn’t get me hyped either…

    ——

    Basically, I just really hope that Empire REALLY is still going to be fully supported, not just with patches, but extra PDLC and extra ‘full’ expansions. I’m more than happy to pay for a lot of extra content for this bad boy, please continue to flesh out Empire. For me, That’s where it at, not Napoleon.

    I’m sure I’ll still get it (love your work, nothing else quite like it), but I am disappointed that it’s not integrated with Empire, especially considering the timeframe and content + it seems like it’s a stopgap rather than a new TW.

    Best of luck guys.

    ***

  13. Sartoris says:

    What a terrible trailer.

  14. The Poisoned Sponge says:

    Is everyone ignoring the fact that the trailer states the Napoleon conquered Russia, when he obviously didn’t? Very odd.

  15. Rick says:

    The trailer also had Napoleon burn the HMS Victory on the coast of England, Poisoned Sponge. I think we can assume that a “what-if” scenario has occured.

  16. mesmertron says:

    Meh, this is just Alexander with guns.

  17. Jockie says:

    For me, Empire doesn’t push the right buttons, loved it when I first bought it, but it’s had nowhere near the same longevity as the previous entries to the series because I really can’t find much to love about people standing in lines with guns, slowly walking towards each other. The AI was a wee bit shoddy and naval battles hurt my brain.

    Probably won’t be buying this because of those things, Total War for me works best when it’s trying to recreate the most thrilling and brutal military periods with accurate detail and a healthy dosage of strategy. Medieval always felt weak towards the ends of long campaigns as gunpowder began to play a more important role.

    TL:DR version – Make Rome 2 instead!

  18. simonkaye says:

    While we’re on this, Medieval: Total War 1 was the best, surely? It certainly dominated my time the most.

    ETW actually did pretty well at naval warfare, which has long been lacking, but I have to admit that I didn’t find the land battles particularly compelling, and the AI remained a disappointment on the strategy map. There’s really no going back from the hyper-intelligence of GalCiv2 empires.

    I know people have been wanting a WW1 or WW2 Total War for ages, but I’m not really sure that gunpowder isn’t ruining the mechanics of this game a bit. They really got hand-to-hand right in M2TW, and now we never get to see any of it.

    I’m gunning for a Rome 2 Total War next, personally.

  19. Ansob. says:

    I never really had any issues with Empire, bug-wise. It only crashed once, and besides the AI being unable to launch a naval invasion, nothing else was broken.

    No; the reason I really disliked it was the bloody muskets. There’s nothing more boring than watching little men march towards each other at a snail’s pace (even in fast forward), then stop, spend thirty seconds lining up, fire once, and do nothing for a full minute. I much preferred little men running at each other with swords; so much so that after a day of trying to play the battles the way they were supposed to be played, I just resorted to firing one volley, fixing bayonets and charging.

    I picked Medieval 2 up for 10€ instead, and have been having a blast ever since. I need to find Kingdoms for equally cheap so I can install Third Age: Total War and Europa Barbarorum 2, when it comes out.

  20. Darthy says:

    Was that the HMS Victory getting torched at the end?

    I’ve played an awful lot of Empire over the past few months, but it remains one of the more flawed of the series. Unlike its predecessors it lacked many historical battles in a period rich with them, and the fortress sieges are still fundimentally broken several major patches later.

    CA’s inability to address these issues since launch has gradually embittered the community, and I’m sure the announcement of a expandalone with the features many thought should have been in the game to begin with will only stoke the fanboy rage further.

    But like RGS, I’m sure I’ll still end up getting it.

  21. Ansob. says:

    Concerning a potential WWI: Total War, didn’t the Creative Assembly lads say the next real TW game would have tanks? A title that spans 1914-18 with each turn being a week would fit well, given a) the increased recruitment rates; b) the increased production rates (Industrial Revolution, natch); and the fact that bayonet combat (and therefore close combat) was very much still an actuality in WWI. The small-scale deployment of automatic weapons and lack of tanks until the end of the conflict would probably also mean it doesn’t become too much of a generic shooty RTS, and at least bolt-action rifles would ensure I no longer stare at the screen for two minutes waiting for my little men to do something.

  22. Dave says:

    Bah Napoleon total War! What about Wellesly total war or how come Britain rocked so much total war. bloody Napoleon!

  23. mesmertron says:

    You know, CA started a ‘daily update’ thread on their forums, giving the fans contsant status reports on what they were fixing and how the patch was coming along.

    I really wish that would become an industry standard (even if CA did eventually stop updating it for weeks at a time).

    I quite like Empire, but I think that it’s incomplete. It needs more missions (why have an achievement for finishing thirty when there are only three nations that get them, and they only get one each?!) for one thing, there’s still no multiplayer campaign (unless I’ve missed something?) and I feel that they should have included some more depth to the economic model (nothing as bad as the M:TW2 merchants, but surely I should be able to buy out another nation who’s sitting on a theater of trade that I want!).

    Still, despite these little greivances, I’ve enjoyed it. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I think it’s just as strong a game as any of their other titles.

    Actually, that’s probably my biggest gripe – rather than reinventing the franchise, all they’ve really done is taken their same formula and made gunpowder effective for once and added in naval battles.

  24. jsutcliffe says:

    Bah, I was hoping the next one would be one of these:
    Shogun 2: Total War — because the series has advanced so much since the first one
    World: Total War — 20th century, and covering both world wars and any other mischief you might want to cause
    Galaxy: Total War — a pipe dream, but Total War in space would be fun. I’m picturing a souped-up Imperium Galactica

  25. simonkaye says:

    re: WW1: Total War (‘Great Powers: total war?’) …

    I don’t think I could really bear to find out Creative Assembly’s interpretation of trench warfare.

    There’s a reason that so very few games are based on WW1 (as opposed to WW2 or earlier conflicts) and that’s because by no stretch of the imagination could there be anything particularly entertaining about trench-style warfare.

    WW1 is simply harder to sex up. There are no ‘evil’ baddies (the Nazis were a real gift to this industry, at least), and the majority of time would be spent holding perfectly still, in abysmal conditions, waiting for a few brief moments of horrible, smokey, muddy, terrifying combat.

    So I’d say a big ‘no thankyou’ to WW1: Total War.

  26. mesmertron says:

    @simonkaye:

    Surely you’d handle trench warfare as any other seige? You don’t spend ages in M:TW2’s battle mode just cutting off supply points or razing farmlands. You only go to the battle mode to hammer away at the fortifications and then charge into the breech.

    Trench warfare would probably have to play out on the campaign map, since it’s ultimately a stalemate. either that, or you’d need to fight one sortie, representational of an entire push towards the other line…

    What I’d like to see CA do with the E:TW engine is an American Civil War game. Even if they did it in a more linear, episodic campaign, it would still be impressive to add Ironclads to the naval battles.

    A multiplayer campaign in such a setting would be most excellent. How do you, as the Union, cope with a Confederate opponent who doesn’t engage at Ghettysburg, but instead flanks to the south and then marches on Washington?

  27. Gap Gen says:

    I think Empire is more interesting than any of the other Total War games. Rome was good, but was the first that used the that campaign map model, which means that the provinces are too sprawling and battles sometimes tend to be fought between small skirmishing forces rather than epic struggles. I think Empire has refined this. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Rome 2, though, once they’ve had time to come up with new and interesting things to do with the formula.

  28. mesmertron says:

    I would give Keiron’s right nut for a Shogun 2.

  29. Captain Haplo says:

    @simonkaye,

    There really aren’t any ‘evil’ baddies in E:TW, R:TW or M:TW, either. But you’re right regarding the trench-warfare part.

    That said, the Eastern Front was a fairly bit more flexible than the Western, but the Western Front’s what’s deeply ingrained into our collective consciousness due to being full of so much damn carnage.

  30. Gap Gen says:

    And yes, a Civil War expandalone to Empire could work very well – it would necessarily strip out the international focus and expand the Americas. Possibly even increase the size of battlefields, with the battles in the current game making up individual engagements in larger battles like Gettysburg, say.

  31. Rosti says:

    Total War: French Midget Rage! I haven’t decided whether my life could sustain Empire TW yet, but colour me interested.

  32. jalf says:

    > Rome probably remains the best game.

    MTW was the best. That was before they began actively wasting the player’s time by integrating a half-arsed Civ clone into the campaign part. MTW had a focus that the later game (*especially* Rome) lacked.

    More isn’t always better. What originally got me hooked on TW was the simple, sweet and to the point Risk-like campaign map, and the awesome battles where the actual action was. The campaign map was for setting up the battles, and for managing troops. Not for building roads and endlessly chasing, or being chased by, enemy units.

    After MTW, they became schizophrenic, and started burdening down the campaign game with things I fundamentally didn’t want to have to worry about, *in addition* to fleshing out the battles. MTW2 suffered from the same problem, and while ETW streamlined it somewhat, I still miss the old days.

  33. mesmertron says:

    @Gap Gen:

    You could still do it as part of a grand campaign – Victorian age, Franco-Prussian war and all… it could just be a nasty aspect of playing as the United States.

  34. jalf says:

    Anyway, I’m still hoping for a Sci-Fi: Total War. Enough with the muskets and big sticks. Bring on the power armour, jetpacks and plasma rifles!

  35. optimal says:

    Um, Napoleon wasn’t short, he was the average height of his age.
    Educate yourselves a bit…

  36. mesmertron says:

    @jalf:

    So tick the ‘auto-manage’ options and get on with things.

    I liked Shogun and the first Medieval, but what I loved most about Rome and later games was that I could pick my territory. If I wanted to fight on high ground, I’d station my armies in the mountain passes. If i had nothing but cavalry and wanted to charge across open plains, I’d likewise plan accordingly.

    Shogun, and to a significant extent Medieval, always dengenerated into auto-resolving fights between multiple massive stacks of armies because I couldn’t be bothered to fight on the same maps over and over with increasingly complex forces.

  37. Clovus says:

    @mesmertron: I very much agree. In normal game terms the US Civil War is not interesting. The North has an industrial base and a larger population; they win. So, it would be interesting if a game could capture the complications that the North (or rather Lincoln) actually faced. The game would need to include an actual election cycle and how well Lincoln is doing, because if Lincoln would have lost the election the war would have ended. If Vicksburg and Gettysburg weren’t Union victories, or if a major Northern city was sacked he would have lost. The mechanics of TW could certainly be used to create a great Civil War game.

    I would definitely play as the South and make sure to cancel all night operations!

    Also, this does sound standalone. Where are the AIM?

  38. DMJ says:

    WWI: The Game! could work. It would probably be something more akin to tower defence though, with setting up defences and letting the enemies come at you…

  39. Derf says:

    While Rome Total War was very fun, especially with realism mods, I never found any functionality with being able to wander the campaign map. You ultimately never had control of the ground you fought on. Any Total War title that fixes this will have my praise (and money).

  40. Professor says:

    World: Total War (WW1 total war game) would be interesting. The problem is that WW1 had way too much trench warfare for it to not be included, and trench warfare would suck as a main gameplay feature. But yeah, WW1 is the last great war to fit a total war game (WW2 is way too overdone and has too little of the typical TW game mechanics such as cavalary and melee and all that jazz) and I’d like to see it done.

  41. Jim Rossignol says:

    Surely it’ll be 20th Century Total War, as all the other games have been century eras.

  42. Clovus says:

    I can’t imagine a WWI:TW working. WWI is a really bad subject for a strategy game because the player already knows that trench warfare is doing it wrong. Why would a player send his troops across no man’s land straight into machine gun fire?

    Then again, maybe if the game could force the player to do this, the player would get a get an accurate impression of WWI. An insane war started for no good reason that was fought in a completely insane way. No matter what happens at the end of the game you feel like a complete loser. Congratulations, you’ve murdered millions and acheived the status quo.

    @optimal: I educated myself by watching the documentary Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

  43. Kieron Gillen says:

    Clovus: Exactly. QED.

    KG

  44. Novotny says:

    I adored Medieval and Rome. Medieval 2 was good, but I was starting to realise there wasn’t much going on behind the interface. CA finally admitted they only had one guy working on the AI for the entire game – and futhermore, it wasn’t his key responsibility (just let that sink in for a moment) but then promised that Empire would be different.

    And it looked fantastic at first. Until the scales fell from my eyes and I saw it for what it was: a fancy interface to the same damn game.

    I think Johann from the Hearts of Iron team put it best when he said ‘AI? I wasn’t aware there was an AI in Empire’.

    The only reason CA started daily updates was because of the outrage from many quarters at their blatant, cynical fleecing of you and I, dear readers.

    I’m not usually given to slagging games out of hand however Empire was – and is – despite this amazing patching process, total rubbish.

    Wouldn’t you think that naval invasions would be kind of key to a game about sailing the seas and creating an Empire? Especially when the Americas is a huge part of the map? Wouldn’t that be one of the most important mechanics?

    No. The AI couldn’t work a boat. It’s a bit like releasing a Doom clone where the monsters don’t know how to run at you. I cannot for the life on of me understand how people overlook this.

    As for reviews; well, the presentation is great, the game does seem to work. it’s a classic example of smoke and mirrors. If you don’t play the game much, you won’t realise that you’re not a ctually playing a game, merely navigating an interface.

    To top it all, The battle AI was even worse than the previous games and it crashed frequently.

    That was one pre-order where I felt totally ripped-off.

    And now they have the temerity to announce what appears to be an expansion? I laugh, bitterly.

    I’m glad some of you enjoy Empire. I’ve met people who regard the Jeremy Kyle show as ‘edgy’ and think the Daily Mail is a quality read. It’s sad, but at least they’re happy.

    I’d implore you to turn your back on this poisoned stew until CA stop sitting on their piles of money and actually do some programming beyond updating the graphics on their franchise.

  45. Don says:

    @Kieron: “Hmm. My top level view raises an eyebrow a little – the talk of mixing the sandbox and the set-pieces is an interesting approach, but it does lead you to wonder exactly how much freedom there’s going to be in them.”

    My eyebrows went twice around my head. I’ll bet that the sandbox bit is heavily constrained. The current version of Empire is totally braindead when it comes to diplomacy, incapable of even making a predictable add-up-points-and-choose-option-with-the-highest-score type decision let alone anything that would convince you that you might be dealing with anything with a brain.

    The military AI at the strategic level is equally useless so if allowed to do it’s thing the experience would be on the lines of: As Austria the human player has advanced armies to the border of France and now stands ready to deal with whatever strategic master-stroke the world’s greatest general has to offer. Napoleon sends 1 unit of artillery and 1 of cavalry to attack a weaver’s cottage right in front of your army. You annihilate it. Napoleon sends the same again. Same result. Napoleon thinks the third time might be the charm. He’s wrong. Paris is now totally undefended as the rest of the French army is sittng in a (not in any danger) port the other side of the country and you move in to end the Emperor’s rule in record time. And if anyone thinks I’m joking that’s almost exactly what happened when I decided to give Empire another go last week except that I was England and it was Louis the Something running France.

    To let the current TW AI play the parts of Wellington, Blucher, Napoleon, Davout, Bagration or Kutusov would merely serve to blacken their reputations, though I suppose it could do a decent rendition of “The unfortunate General Mack”.

  46. theleif says:

    Until they release more multiplayer skirmish maps and the multiplayer campaign for E:TW i won’t touch this.
    And if it doesn’t integrate with E:TW and extends the grand campaign i probably won’t buy it anyway.

    Oh well.

  47. Isometric says:

    A more coherent and focused expansion isnt necessarily a bad thing.
    I’ve hardly even touched Empire and had it on release.
    Its a puzzle as to why i haven’t got around to having a good whack at it yet.
    Thus maybe this kind of expansion would get the ball rolling for me.
    Anyway.
    Agreed Jim, rome was my personnel favourite.

  48. jRides says:

    @frightlever – Dow2 is not a game about future war, its a skirmish level real-time MMO for the starcraft crowd.

  49. mesmertron says:

    re: Rome – it got so much right, and yet the thing that kept hurting the game for me was the campaign’s diplomatic AI. and not just with forming and breaking alliances for no good reason. everyone hated the Senate, right? Build up too much power too fast and then it’s war…

    but you can’t play a TW game by expanding slowly. Very much as with Civilization (any version, including 4), Gal Civ, or the good Master of Orions, the only viable strategy is to grab as much land as you can as fast as you can.

    Empire and Civ4 actually encourage you to slow down a bit by curbing your economic growth, but i’ve yet to play a game of Empire as Prussia where I can’t neuter Poland by seizing their biggest cities in the first campaign year.

    And while I’m thinking of it, I can’t remember seeing a Civ game yet on any difficulty level short of Emperor where the AI could cope with you building a third city before they finished their second. Get enough of a head start and they just roll over and play dead.

    In both games, sure they’ll declare war on you, but let’s face it. Armed populace simply don’t stand a chance against well drilled Prussian grenadiers.

  50. Tom says:

    I think as somebody said further up, that the Total War series is being milked dry by SEGA. They need (read must) reinvent this baby, and reinvent it proper.
    *IDEA START*
    Why should the dam thing be restricted to a single era or epoch? Why can’t the player decide, where and when he wants to play. He then gets some resources, a little tidbit of territory, and plays it out, just that the hole thing is like a gigantic MMO, where we really do play against ‘real human’ opponents, those that happen to also want to play in the same region in the same epoch. Nobody wants to do that, the AI kicks in, simple and brilliant. Add a little AOE style ‘timeline’, really cool graphics, and of course tanks, and I’m all set to wet my trousers and go running naked in the streets ;)
    *IDEA END*