Napoleon Dynamite: EG Napoleon Review

By Kieron Gillen on February 26th, 2010 at 6:00 pm.

I love this screenshot.

Since we’re probably not doing a Wot I Think, I thought it worthwhile to point everyone in the direction of Boy Wonder Quinns’ Eurogamer review of Napoleon: Total War. Wherein he starts like this…

So, Napoleon finally gave me the battle I wanted from Empire.

And continues in an agreeably histrionic historical vein.

, , .

123 Comments »

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  1. Garg says:

    It’s a fine review, although it’s a real shame that the AI still doesn’t play in a convincing way, which was the overwhelming main flaw with Empire. I enjoyed Empire for as long as I could bring myself ignore the AI’s shortcomings, but I’m not sure I’m prepared to forgive it in another TW game.

    Fellow RPSer Tim Stone’s review from PCG is up at http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=236451 incidentally. Why doesn’t Gentlemen Stone post anymore on RPS?

  2. Inigo says:

    @Garg
    Because Gentlemen Stone has a terrible thirst on him, and after everything goes blurry he keeps waking up covered in the viscera of the innocent and with the local constabulary eager to find out why he has strips of child flesh in his lunchbox.
    Either that, or he just has better things to do.

    So is Napoleon a whole new game, or is it an expansion in the vein of Alexander?

    • Quinns says:

      It’s a weird one, really.

      Napoleon: Total War is Empire: Total War with the colonial stuff removed, a series of campaigns and a half-hearted desertion mechanic added, and everything else tightened up a bit.

      It’d be worth kicking up a fuss about if they were charging full price for it, but they’re not.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well it’s more than I paid for Empire which was £17 from Asda.

      I’ll probably love this just like I loved Empire but that doesn’t mean I can’t wait for a 66% Steam sale or for it to pop up in Tesco.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Quinns: they’re not in the UK, maybe. It’s still 80% of full price in Europe.

    • Rosti says:

      “…half-hearted desertion mechanic…”

      That feels sort of apt, really. Not that irony is something to strive for in games design, but it certainly tickled me.

    • menki says:

      Can’t beat the amazingly broken steam pricing for this in Australia. E:TW = $39.99 USD, N:TW = $69.99 USD. Go SEGA.

  3. MrMud says:

    A shame the AI is still rubbish, although hardly unexpected.
    I think I will pass on this one (and all forthcomming ones until it has been fixed).

    • Torgen says:

      Unfortunately, I’m going to have to agree.

      Is the AI is HistWar: Les Grognards any better? I sorely miss the long-ago fun of claiming a meeting room at the local library for weekend-long tabletop Napoleonics battles, but may have to resign myself to the fact that I’ll never see a proper recreation on the PC.

  4. SmartChimp says:

    I hate to say this but I was wondering how the multiplayer is and was going to pick it up based on that. Unfortunately this review lacks that so I cannot really make a decision about it. I know the TW have traditionally been single player experiences but I always wanted them to set up a play be email experience (Due to the length of time it could take to accomplish a turn). But from what I understand it’s a play and wait for the other player, and I’m wondering how that pans out.

  5. Vinraith says:

    Rubbish AI? Bland naval battles? Inadequate supply and desertion mecanics? No problem, I’m sure there will be mods to fix it.

    Oh, wait.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Thread over

    • Matzerath says:

      Please keep reminding me of this – I’ve almost bought Empire several times before this horrible fact rears its ugly, impenetrable head.

    • Sceptrum says:

      Being a member of EB team, the lack of mod tools is baffling. Its what keeps the game selling longer!
      I’ll get NTW when it hits the bargain bin at Steam, although play.com sells it for 24 €/19 £ so cheaper from them than Steam atm.

  6. Real Horrorshow says:

    Word from the hardcore community is this is superior to ETW in every single way and the AI is way better.

    • Bhazor says:

      You mean a hardcore community actually likes the decision made by the game company who made the game that they are a fan of? Thats a new one!

      Or do you mean that Vanessa Blue and Belladonna are big fans? I didn’t know games were big among pornstars. I mean I know Asia Carerra made an Unreal Tournament custom skin and Patrick did stuff for Saints Row 2 but still.

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      First of all, I barely understood a word of that. Was it supposed to be funny? Oh well…

      Anyways, if you knew anything about the Total War community (which I do since I’ve been a part of it for years), you’d know that the vast majority of the hardcore fanbase absolutely despised Empire (I liked it, however…after several patches). Like HATED it. HATED Creative Assembly for it. Petitions, boycotts, the while nine yards.

      And according to them, NTW is superior in every way to it and one of the most polished TW games on release to date. A lot are still pissed they couldn’t polish up ETW with some of these fixes with patches, but that’s a different story.

      I was around to watch the reaction to ETW’s release like I am for this one, and it’s night and day. A lot of professional reviewers seem to be giving NTW lower ratings out of embarrassment for their overrated, hyperbolic reviews of ETW (which a lot of people suggest were due to bribes by CA and returned favors for ad revenue…ridiculous to me but it’s a “theory” still well alive), in order to retain a little street cred with the hardcore base. Who would have thought they’d actually like NTW? I certainly didn’t think so.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      The “hardcore” community that seems to have forgotten CA made games before Rome: Total War?

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      Well since Shogun and Medieval 1 don’t work on any new graphics cards starting with the 8800s, I’d say that’s not the community’s fault.

    • archonsod says:

      The fact they hated Empire shows how unreliable they are, it was the best TW yet :P

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      I smell a rat……

  7. clive dunn says:

    “Vinraith says: Rubbish AI? Bland naval battles? Inadequate supply and desertion mecanics? No problem, I’m sure there will be mods to fix it.

    Oh, wait.”

    It’s alright, i’m sure they’ll patch the problems out of it.

    Oh wait. and wait and wait.

    I guess it’s not going to happen.

  8. clive dunn says:

    This from the Guardian review,

    “Ultimately, my main concern about Napoleon TW was the effect of its more linear structure on replay value. However, knowing the TW community, modding is bound to be already under way, with more playable nations usually among the first tweaks to be unlocked. And there’s a beefed up multiplayer mode too, including the ability to issue build orders after your turn ends to compensate for the lengthy delays that occur whilst others are making their moves.”

    Hmmmm

    • Vinraith says:

      *rimshot*

      Someone didn’t do their homework.

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      Yet others need to do their homework, as well.

      There’s every mod you could think of for ETW except ones that would edit the campaign map (still not figured out by the modding community, unfortunately). But every faction is unlocked (including the emergent ones who aren’t even on the map to begin with), there’s a late campaign, there are custom units (mid-19th century Prussian “Pickelhaube” soldiers and American Civil War infantry being the most impressive), mods that effect every aspect of gameplay in battles and campaign both.

      There’s everything but complete total conversions.

      As moddable as RTW and M2TW? No. No mods? Not even close.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Real Horroshow

      There’s every mod you could think of for ETW except ones that would edit the campaign map

      To borrow your phrase “not even close.”

      CA has done everything in their power to prevent modding and, furthermore, lied about it prior to Empire’s release. That particularly clever modders have managed to work around the tangle of file encryptions and other “security” measures set up by CA to do some minimalist modding is no credit to CA and no credit to the game.

      They don’t get to lie about supporting modding, go out of their way to stop modding, and then get credit for modding as a feature of their game.

    • Weylund says:

      Having spoken directly to the CA guys about this during a visit to SEGA a few weeks back, I’d have to say a) CA really, really doesn’t mind modding, and b) the only thing they’re trying to stop is the insanity of rebuilding their engine every three years and having to redo the whole “everything comes from textual dat files” thing that they did pre-ETW. There are better ways to store and manage data: they’re using them. They’ll be releasing a unit editor shortly – that’s pretty explicit mod support, wouldn’t you say?

      As for only allowing “minimalist modding” – what’s Darthmod, pickled herring? CA has put an inordinate amount of time and resources into supporting Darth’s quest for a more realistic game, and he’s largely accomplished that with a massive mod. Have you looked into the databases for that thing? It’s huge.

    • scundoo says:

      @ Weylund

      LIES, all Lies.
      Heard all the same before, all turned out to be complete lies. They make promises, they sell their game, they move on.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Weylund

      A unit editor for Empire or Nappy? That would, indeed, be a significant goodwill gesture on CA’s part.

      As to Darthmod, it’s lovely but it’s limitations very clearly show how many elements of the game CA has locked away. If they unlock those elements, I’ll be happy to quit my bitching and get back to enjoying their games. I like TW games, I used to like CA before the Empire fiasco, I’d honestly like nothing more than for the whole situation to be resolved by them unlocking the files (or providing full mod support, if that’s what’s necessary to get around the file locking). The unit editor is an encouraging step, if it’s for Empire.

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      RATS!! RATS I SAY!!!! *incoherent gibbering*

    • scundoo says:

      ^ a rather poor attempt at sarcasm. Care to add anything to the conversation? Apparently you know enough about CA, their policies over the years and the support they’ve “shown” modders since the days of medieval 1, for you to be criticizing my claims of their blatantly lying to the public (for the nth time).

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      Chin up scundoo, this was aimed at the CA apologist element. In terms of adding to the argument, there is very little to say – the facts speak for themselves, i believe.

  9. Monkeybreadman says:

    Tera Patrick Total War i would buy. This i won’t. At least not until there is some super steam sale

  10. Morte says:

    Having, in my view, wasted £many on Empire, I vowed never to go near this series again until I read in a review “Ai that works”.

    I can only suppose that because they haven’t fixed the weakest aspect of their games, that they in actual fact can’t.
    Bit of a shame really, great concept.

    • Don says:

      @Morte: I can only suppose that because they haven’t fixed the weakest aspect of their games, that they in actual fact can’t.

      It’s more a case of ‘can’t be bothered’ rather than can’t, I think. For instance the EG review mentions artillery that parks itself behind house and spends the entire battle trying to shoot through it. Small bumps in the ground have much the same effect. But this kind of thing is childishly simple to fix and CA certainly have coders who could sort this out. Seems to me they’ve decided they can shift enough units without doing the job properly so they’ve decided not to.

    • archonsod says:

      “this kind of thing is childishly simple to fix and CA certainly have coders who could sort this out”

      Not without making the AI cheat by being aware of the player’s deployment. It’s rare to have much flat area in Empire, so no matter where you’re placing the artillery you’ll have areas where you can’t hit, despite being in range. Even for the human player, positioning cannon (particularly if it’s fixed) is a matter of guessing which direction the enemy will advance and where will give you the best coverage (hopefully while minimising your own exposure).

      The simple thing they should (and hopefully have) fix is gun battery’s whose members think it’s a good idea to shoot each other. That is just plain stupid.

  11. Hmm says:

    Wanted to buy this, but I refuse to put up with Steam ruining my single player games anymore. Pass.

    • A-Scale says:

      In what way, Charlie?

    • Senethro says:

      A-scale, surely you of all people understand unreasonable hatred of Steam and everything vaguely associated?

    • Bowlby says:

      I downloaded Steam freely when it first came out; however, if I’d bought a PC game at retail and then been forced to download and install it, I would have a very different view.

    • A-Scale says:

      I rather like Steam. I try to buy only through Steam so that all of my stuff is permanently backed up and accessible in one place.

    • Bowlby says:

      Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? I had Steam before you had retail games making it a compulsory install. I’d already opted in, and I have dozens of games I now own on that platform. So, when Empire or DoW2 came along, installing Steam wasn’t even an issue, since I’d already made the choice years back.

      People without Steam, THEN have to install it when buying either of those games. So, now you have to install another program to install and play the game you just bought, and it doesn’t help that Steam is not just a DRM solution, but also a distribution platform with its own marketplace and advertisements.

      To be honest, it feels just a little underhanded.

  12. Premium User Badge

    mrpier says:

    Was that 20£ on Steam? Because in euroland-steam it’s closer to 35£ (39.99 Eur).

    • Choca says:

      Yeah it seems pretty expensive for a stand-alone expansion.

    • archonsod says:

      It’s about half the price on Amazon. Steam pricing fail, as usual

  13. Miker says:

    And I thought RPS was classy.

    • Miker says:

      REPLY FAIL. That was directed at the multiple posts about porn stars above me.

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    (To state the obvious, responding to spam is frowned on, because we delete it when it turns up – or the system realises it’s spam and does it for us. That leaves your posts sitting there looking mental and/or creating more work when we have to manually delete them too.)

    I know it’s funny, but please don’t.

    KG

  15. Disillusioned says:

    “In my very first battle I noticed a pillar of smoke emerging from a building in a nearby town. Imagine my dismay when I slid the camera over to find the AI had positioned one of its cannons maybe 10 yards behind a town house and was launching cannonball after cannonball into it in a mad attempt to get to me. It was like watching a zombie pawing at a pane of glass.

    A more creepy side to the AI revealed itself as I engaged it on any map where it had access to some form of cover, a fence or low stone wall. It didn’t matter where the AI and I drew battle lines, it would always take one regiment and have them squatting by that piece of cover, way out in the middle of nowhere. What were those soldiers doing?”

    Why do you give this an 8/10 with such faults in AI in a strategy game?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Disillusioned

      Reviewers never seem to grade strongly enough on AI in strategy titles, hell a lot of the time they don’t even mention it. I can only assume it’s because they have easier access to MP opponents than the rest of us, and don’t realize or don’t care that most gamers never play a given title in MP. Quinns gets credit in my books for discussing those issues at length, even if they’re not adequately reflected in the final number IMO. It’s one more reason to read the review, rather than both with numerical scores.

    • Bhazor says:

      Well to be fair there is usually an understandable misjudgment in the AI in Total War. That cannon for example may be due to you setting your units in a different spot to where the AI expected. When most of the artillery is immobile this could result in the artillery being forced to demolish a building to reach you. The strange cover obsession is a bit more understandable, controlling key areas is always the most important part of defending. Even if that piece of cover is away from the main fight it could still be useful for somewhere to keep reserves or as somewhere to lure enemy cavalry. Then theres the fact that a piece of cover you don’t own belongs to your enemy. Admittedly battles tend not to stray too much from where they start so these rarely become factors.

      The core problem from what I understand is that the AI is unscripted, which if it fully worked would be incredible but sadly at the moment it just means the AI hangs occasionally and occasionally puts too much value in the wrong aspect (like holding a piece of high ground even when being bombarded by artillery with no way to return fire). It still puts up a good fight in open terrain though and call me shallow but the spectacle for me is enough to overshadow many of the “for fucks sake” moments. Though the actual proper glitches are another matter, like when I’d reduced the defenders to a single melee unit which seemed to have gone through a hole in the geometry and could no longer be targeted or go into a melee despite standing right there in the village square. So I had to cram every single soldier on to the capture point so that I could counter their presence and capture the capture point whilst the defenders stood there doing their idle animation. It was weird. But it made me grin so I can’t really complain.

    • archonsod says:

      The spectacle is much improved this time around. The AI is actually better than Empire, it realises it actually has guns this time which is a plus. Artillery seems to fox it for some reason so it will ignore anything blocking LoS as long as it has range (although if I had a 24lb cannon, I’d probably ignore anything in it’s path too). To be honest I feel hypocritical complaining about it since I have an awkward tendency to deploy my cannon behind a small hillock at the best of times.
      As far as the cover thing goes it’s not quite that bad. If there is cover nearby it will use it when defending, which makes sense given it protects the unit from a majority of incoming fire, and as long as it has one intact unit on the field at the end of the battle it wins. I’ve not seen it go out of it’s way to hide behind a wall on the other side of the battlefield, but during the storming of a city it will still try to hide in buildings, but again that’s pretty sensible when using militia.
      It still tries sneaky flank moves with cavalry, and it’ll now use woods to set up ambushes too. It’s not exactly a genius, but then since the campaign now supports drop in multiplayer for the battles you can always rely on an Actual Idiot rather than an artificial one.

    • Don says:

      @Bhazor: Well to be fair there is usually an understandable misjudgment in the AI in Total War. That cannon for example may be due to you setting your units in a different spot to where the AI expected.

      Not so. In TW the human player sets up his forces then clicks to start the battle. Only in TW does a general have to deploy his troops in total ignorance of enemy position. The AI then has adequate time to decide where to deploy its own forces with perfect knowledge of where the opposition can be found. Hence all those times where you find you have deployed your immovable demi-cannons as far forward as you can only to find all the enemy troops are mysteriously just out of range and you might as well give them the day off.

      And as for the cannon shooting at house problem that’s just stupid. All the AI has to do is choose a likely position then simulate firing a few shots around its arc of fire. And if any of those shots don’t travel a useful distance because of, for example, hitting a house right in front of the cannon’s muzzle, then re-position the battery until a better result is obtained. Given the CPU power available on any machine capable of playing the game it could do that a 100 times and you’d never even notice the delay.

  16. Alphabet says:

    It’s a bitch to install, too. I’m sure a lot of people love Steam. Well, I fucking hate it. I resent having to get involved with Valve’s bloat-and-ad garbageware just to play a game where I have the fucking DVD in my drive. I’m sorry for being intemperate, but it’s an hour after I sat down to play this thing and I don’t get that much time for games these days, and I don’t want to spend it fucking around with interferenceware. If it wasn’t Napoleon, I wouldn’t bother. Blasted little French glorificationist has had me addicted since I was 12.

    And I’m not buying the next in this series, either*.

    *Unless it’s Empire: US Civil War, in which case the bastards will get my time, money, and anger for that too. And I bet the AI is still crap.

    PC Gaming really needs an enema, doesn’t it?

    • A-Scale says:

      What’s the issue? Aside from the beta being less usable I can’t see what the gripe is.

    • Alphabet says:

      Well, I’ve been sat here for more than two hours, on a powerful PC but with an intermittent internet connection, and so far all I’m getting is an endless litany of Steam crashes and hangs, and it refuses to start at all in offline mode – saying ‘Cannot connect to the Steam network’ which I would have thought is hardly unexpected in an offline mode

      It’s a piece of shit and now it’s giving me ‘update news’ consisting of an ad for a game I’ve already bought, along with an amusing ‘play it now’ button and a price tag. Christ I hate Valve so much.

    • Senethro says:

      Then turn the ads off if you hate them so much.

    • Fumarole says:

      But then the anger might go away.

    • Alphabet says:

      Can’t you read? The ads are the icing on the cake of crap that is Steam. Three and a half hours waiting to get into a game I’d bought – that’s where the anger came from. Yes, I could disable their shitty unsolicited ads, great, another micro-chore imposed on me by gaming’s most over-rated entity ever, Valve. I’ve bought a game from CA/Sega, at HMV, and I have to deal with Valve to get it to run. It’s pathetic and frustrating, and I will not be buying any more games that require Steam activation, or, despite what I said above, any more TW games, as this one, when it finally started, is just a reskinned (any of the previous games). I loved Medieval and Shogun, but I’m done with these games now.

    • Senethro says:

      Heh, you sure showed them.

      Its a DRM solution and one of the less obnoxious ones. They’re not limiting your activations or other stuff. You’d better get used to it.

      And I’m amazed that you can get angry about being able to turn the ads off.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Senethro

      You’d better get used to it.

      Not really. With the exception of games using it as copy protection (most of which have been skippable outside of Valve first-party titles) Steam is easy enough to avoid. There’s a diversity of online retailers with far less obnoxious and intrusive distribution platforms. Most completely lack clients, have no phone-home-on-start requirement, and allow you to manually install, uninstall, and in the best cases even manually patch your games.

      People that like Steam are welcome to continue liking Steam, but some of us are not fans of a piece of software that serves to get between us and our games. You see it as a convenience, we see it as an intrusion and an attempt to remove as much control as possible from the player. When it works, that doesn’t matter so much. When it doesn’t (and it often doesn’t) it’s a real mess. Unpatched games, broken installations, flaky offline functionality, mysterious game lock-outs, the ever present threat of unprovoked account bans/suspensions, these are some of the issues with Steam. Maybe you’ve never had these problems. If not, good for you, I hope you never do. Those of us that have are a bit less optimistic about the bright future of gaming as envisioned by Valve.

      “Get used to it?” Really? I’ll tell you what you can get used to: Ubi’s new system is far worse than Steam, but it’s a natural progression from the Steam model. Take Steam, swap an inconsistent offline mode for no offline mode, optional cloud saves for forced ones, and all of a sudden you’re looking at Ubi’s new platform. Gee, I wonder where they got their ideas?

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Vinraith

      “People that like Steam are welcome to continue liking Steam, but some of us are not fans of a piece of software whose sole purpose is to get between us and our games.”

      Vin, I respect your point of view on Steam and to some extent I agree. However, that statement is bullshit. Obvious bullshit, granted, but seeing this sort of hyperbolic nonsense going unchallenged every time Steam is brought up is getting pretty old. It has purposes besides getting between you and your games. You know it, I know it, everyone reading this knows it. So why say it? You can make a stronger case by sticking to the facts.

    • Fumarole says:

      “Sole purpose?” That laughable.

    • Vinraith says:

      @invisiblejesus

      A poor choice of phrase. Edited.

    • archonsod says:

      “It has purposes besides getting between you and your games. You know it, I know it, everyone reading this knows it. So why say it?”

      No, it doesn’t. Not to someone who simply wants to play the game they bought from somewhere other than Steam and has no interest in the various crap the client can do.

    • Vinraith says:

      @archonsod

      The error in that line (and the reason I retracted it) is in the fact that it implies knowledge of intent, rather than effect. From the perspective of a non-MP gamer who doesn’t have any interest in community features and prefers to update and install his games manually (especially in light of Steam’s occasional inability to get such things right) the effect is that it just gets between us and our games. The intent, in fairness, really does seem to be to provide a platform of useful features and conveniences in exchange for a loss of control on the part of the end-user. Some people see that as a fair trade, which is obviously the goal as the platform is designed to sell games after all.

      On the other hand, some of us see it as a frighteningly bad trade, and a worrying indicator of future trends regarding PC gamers ability to control their own games. When I’m told to “get used to” the closing of a platform whose primary strength is its open nature I confess I get rather pissed off (and stop being careful about word choice, to the detriment of my argument).

    • Alphabet says:

      Vinraith, as usual, is making his case eloquently and accurately. Let’s be clear: if N:TW came with the option to opt-in to Steam so that I could I don’t know, meet my friends online or save my games in Peru or some such shit, I would be fine with it. If it were an option. As it is, it’s preventing me from playing the single-player game that I’ve paid for. Of course Valve, like so many big companies, don’t bother with the small percentage of their customers that have problems. If they were to launch a 24-hour, worldwide telephone assistance line, I’d take Steam seriously. I can call my bank 24 hours a day to resolve issues, I can call an airline 24 hours a day to resolve issues, but with Valve all I get is cut-and-paste replies that suggest that my emails haven’t even been read properly. I hope some enterprising young computing graduates set up a facebook-like application to do all the good things that Steam does, and none of the bad; they’d make a fortune, and I wouldn’t even turn off their ads.

    • archonsod says:

      ” The intent, in fairness, really does seem to be to provide a platform of useful features and conveniences in exchange for a loss of control on the part of the end-user..”

      Yes, that’s Valve’s intent. But Valve aren’t the ones buying the game. The problem is making it compulsory; I mean if you want Steam for those features you can download it separately. If you wanted it integrated into Napoleon, you can buy the game from Steam. When you start forcing it onto people though then it is simply an obstacle to playing the game.

  17. Antsy says:

    Quinns, what is this English Navy of which you speak?

  18. Shalrath says:

    “Reviewers never seem to grade strongly enough on AI in strategy titles, hell a lot of the time they don’t even mention it.”

    If reviewers downgraded marks in strategy titles, name a single game that would have more than 3/10.

    • Shalrath says:

      downgraded.. for AI suckage. Sorry, it’s been a tough day.

      And I agree it should be mentioned, but seriously, at this point you’re getting a number as a comparison, not out of the ‘perfect strat title.’

    • Bhazor says:

      The Warrior Kings expansion.
      The AI had actual characters! Spammy bastards who would zerg you, range focused generals, cavalry specialists, turtlers and about nine other distinct generals. This should really have become a standard feature for strategy games or the Advances Wars system of giving different generals different buffs. Its something that the Chessmaster games have had for almost a decade.

      Note: Its been too long so I can’t remember whether the Warrior Kings AI was actually good but its certainly a good idea.

    • Tunips says:

      Cossacks 2 was really quite good. I went back to that after realising the truth behind ETW.

    • Guy says:

      Panther Games stuff would (Airborne Assault, Command Ops).

      I don’t find the AI too much of a hindrance on TW games: they’re fun and colourful and completely ahistorical. I’m sure NTW will be quite sublime for getting all Charlie Oman. If I want decent AI or serious history I play a proper wargame.

      Tim Stone makes good points about the lack of Napoleonic tactics but, problem is, its impossible to put them in the game when the units are so thick and the basic laws of physics are constantly broken. i.e. cavalry charging into men- in reality both horse and man would die and the rider would be lucky to survive without serious injury. Similarly how can you possibly represent realistic combat when human actions are so willfully misrepresented- bayonet fights are almost unknown out of sieges despite bayonet charges being common because in almost every case one side retreats before hand to hand combat can begin. etc.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Shalrath

      Sword of the Stars and Gal Civ 2 spring to mind. Rise of Nations, if you want an RTS example.

  19. Langman says:

    As mentioned by someone else, it is quite interesting how this game is apparently superior to Empire:TW yet receiving weaker scores.

    Very…..interesting indeed.

    • Real Horrorshow says:

      Reviewers usually only play games for a very short period of time (they’re busy) and didn’t have time to notice the big flaws in Empire 1.0. They just saw the good stuff and proclaim the game’s awesomeness. That explains ETW’s flood of 96%s and the like.

      Why NTW is getting lower scores could be for many reasons, each of which are probably the case with at least a few reviews each.

      1. There’s the rule in game reviewing that expansion must receive lower scores than the original game no matter what. This makes no logical sense and I don’t know why its the rule of thumb in games journalism, but study Metacritic for a bit and you’ll see it’s definitely the case the vast majority of the time. This is probably most of it.

      2. They go into the Napoleon review now knowing about ETW’s hideous bugs and broken gameplay mechanics that they totally missed and how they looked like an idiot for rating it like it was Half-Life 2, so they want to retain some street cred with the hardcore nerds by being overly critical of the game.

      3. They weren’t bribed by Sega this time! (j/k, TWC joke…)

      4. They genuinely like the game less than Empire, which seems like it would be pretty weird at this point. People in the community who despised Empire and swore to god they’d never support CA again have caved and bought Napoleon and they like it a lot.

  20. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    I’m one of those that was deeply disappointed by Empire and even more disappointed by it’s subsequent support.

    I’ll not be buying this.

  21. scundoo says:

    I bought it, but only because I wasn’t one of those suckered into buying Emp.. Beta: TW

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      No, you were suckered in to buying ETW 0.2 abandonware

  22. Yontan says:

    have they improved sieges?

  23. Lemon scented apocalypse says:

    After spending a few hours with this (On a friends pc, i hasten to add) I have to admit that yes, It is better than ETW. I should then point out that this really isn’t saying much.
    If it wasn’t for the production values, this game would have received a 70% average

  24. Collic says:

    I won’t be buying this after Empire. Purchasing this would just feel like thanking them for letting me down. I know, objectively, I should judge the game solely on it’s merits, but I really have no burning desire for more of the same, even if it does have a little more polish.

    I don’t think they’ll release a game I liked as much as the original medieval (didn’t ever play shogun, sadly) . Rome was good too, but even that game just didnt compare to the atmosphere and feel of medieval for me. It felt like a game made by people who really loved the period, and the features that evoked most of that flavour never made it back into medieval 2.

    It doesnt help that since playing the old TW games iv’e discovered things like galciv2 and eu3. Perhaps I’ve just outgrown the total war games; the real time battles aren’t enough to make up for how shallow the core gameplay is compared to other grand stategy/4x games.

    I think part of that reason is the games don’t have enough character, enough heart anymore, for me to love them despite their shortcomings.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Collic

      You should try some of the more substantial mods for Rome and Medieval 2. You’re right that vanilla TW certainly doesn’t compare, in its grand campaign mechanics, to games like EU3 and Gal Civ 2. Mods like Europa Barborum and Stainless Steel go a significant distance towards closing that gap.

  25. CaptainEnglishPants says:

    Afternoon. With a jolt, my finger pressed downward. I had just clicked the link. I was completely unprepared for the game review that appeared on the screen. My eyeballs blazed across the words, imagining each scene described in vivid detail. Heart pounding, I managed to sip a glass of water while I read, engulfed in the strange text. It was only five minutes later, when I snapped out of this trance that I realized how harrowing my life truly is.

    I had survived the game review. Dear god. Dear god, but how many had perished. How it will effect me for the rest of my life. All my comrades, gone. Dear god.

    I picked up my mug again, hands shaking, for a second sip of water. It was full of blood.

  26. bill says:

    Turn off the ads if you don’t like them. If you have internet then ignore the offline mode, it’s not like you need to be online all the time.
    I can understand the crashes being frustrating, but sometimes it feels like people let steam frustrate them. I don’t use many of it’s features, but it doesn’t inconvenience me in any way, so i totally ignore it for the most part. I click the shortcut on the desktop, the game launches. Steam is irrelevant.
    (except that it makes installing games and updates much easier).

    • bill says:

      @ somebody further up complaining about steam. stupid reply system.

    • Alphabet says:

      Gosh, isn’t it frustrating when software doesn’t do what you expect?

  27. Michael says:

    See, my problem with E:TW (having not played any of the others) wasn’t the enemy AI, it was having _no damn idea what the hell is going on in the land battles!_

    How do I get my units to work in a formation? Can I define my own formations? When I use unit grouping / formations, I don’t know how to rotate and postion them. I don’t know how to forward march. How do I get my dudes to fire at will, but not at each other? Firing into a melee is bad, obviously, but what if most of what I seem to be firing into is the enemy? How can I tell when positioning whether my cannon will be able to shoot the enemy, or are they too close to my own men?

    The manual’s useless, and the forum guides are more on the grand campaign and specific strategies rather than TW basics.

    I’m used to Civ, Kings Bounty, etc, where you have turn based units and there’s a direct, understandable and immediate reaction to most of your actions. This – I have trouble telling my units what to do, and I have trouble understanding what will happen, and that’s really frustrating.

    Help?

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      The shoddy craftsman blames his tool.
      Seriously though; play the tutorial.

    • CaptainEnglishPants says:

      1. How do I get my units to work in a formation?

      Group them. There is a group button. I think the hotkey is “g” by default? So select the units, press that hotkey.

      2. Can I define my own formations?

      Kind of. Whatever position your dudes are in when you group them, they’ll try to maintain.

      3. When I use unit grouping / formations, I don’t know how to rotate and postion them.

      Select unit(s) you want to move. Right click and hold the button down. Now drag from left to right to face them away from your perspective. Drag from right to left to have them face your perspective. Once you let go, and you occasionally become curious/forget where you ordered your troops, you can press spacebar to bring back the symbols on the ground where they’re headed.

      4. I don’t know how to forward march.

      I assume you mean run? There’s a run key. Or R for the hotkey, by default.

      If you mean that you just want them to advance, you have to do that manually.

      5. How do I get my dudes to fire at will, but not at each other? Firing into a melee is bad, obviously, but what if most of what I seem to be firing into is the enemy?

      From my experience, the AI is decent at knowing when to fire and when it’s not worth the risk. There appears to be a percentage calculation of some sort. I mostly leave my guys with fire-at-will activated.

      6. How can I tell when positioning whether my cannon will be able to shoot the enemy, or are they too close to my own men?

      Intuition. I don’t know of any other way.

    • Michael says:

      I’ve played the tutorial. I’m midway through my fourth play through of Road to Independance – every few months I go “I should give ETW another try”, get bored during the middle of some gigantic engagement, and go play something else instead. It feels like I’d really enjoy this game if I was already good at it, but it doesn’t do emergent gameplay well for the land battles. “You’ve got a tiny army, you’re fighting off some dayum natives, you’ve got a gigantic army and they’re dying to friendly fire and poor positioning”.

      I didn’t know about the spacebar thing. That is useful, thanks.

      Re marching: yes, I know about running – I mean “go directly forward”. So far I hold down the ‘forward’ button on the radial dial – but that only works for short distances, and it seems like there should be a way to go forward iwth the mouse without changing their rank/file layout.

      Re grouping: I didn’t know that they’ll try to keep the formation that they were grouped in – that’s cool.

      Thanks for the tips! I’m going to keep trying.

    • Bhazor says:

      The run button is a toggle, it takes a second or two for them to speed up but then they’ll stay at that speed. You just click once to order them to move.

      My advice is to just go straight into the main campaign, the first skirmishes are much smaller and the whole thing is probably a more gentle introduction than the road to independence.

      An extra tip that may not be mentioned in the tutorial (too long since I played the tutorial campaign and I already knew how to play for me to remember).
      Double click on a unit portrait to leap to them and hover your mouse over the portrait for a run down of their stamina, current action and morale.

  28. Poppis says:

    I’ll stay with my MTW2+Kingdoms and wait for EB2. If only somebody would make the original MTW work with my 8800 GTS, I would be happy.

  29. Rizzmond says:

    For all those wondering, I’ve played about 15 hours of NTW so far and it’s a total blast. Yes, the AI still isn’t very good, but they have implemented the ULTIMATE solution. Drop-in battles are fantastic and work flawlessly. I’m playing a normal/normal grand campaign right now with only auto-resolving and drop-in battles. Even without any artificial bonuses for the AI this makes the game challenging and exciting. The complete dread when your beautiful army gets steam-rolled outside the enemy capital by an excellent flank from your opposing player or the elation when you decisively outsmart another player with your campaign-weathered troops near Moscow is exhilarating.

    If you are looking for a challenge, I highly recommend picking up NTW and never playing the battle AI. The drop-ins are fantastic and you usually get a player within a minute.

    • Tull. says:

      Of course, if you utterly despise multiplayer with a passion, and doesn’t want to fucking reward CA for being lazy with their AI, it’s NOT the “ultimate solution”, and to refer to it as such is borderline offensive.

  30. bill says:

    I think maybe people’s expectations of AI are a little too high?
    I can’t think of many games that have had perfectly natural AI, even simple games like FPS games often have AI that does wierd things. A game like E:TW has so many things to take account of that it’s hardly surprising that it make mistakes. (bugs are another thing!).
    Many large scale strategy games have a history of having “bad” AI. Often it’s not really “bad”, it’s just that it can’t handle all the abstract decisions that a person can.

    Sometimes you just have to overlook it and let yourself enjoy the game. Which i guess is a lot easier for people who play a game casually than people who get really into it and replay it so much that the flaws become more obvious. I think that’s one reason AI often doesn’t factor so much in reviews… that and the fact it’ll never be perfect.

    • Sceptrum says:

      The reason many are complaining about the AI is because they had more of a challenge in the good old Shogun and Medieval 1 games (two titles which is taking their sweet time getting to gog.com).

      Also there is a difference for some. Me myself I’d gladly give ETW another go if they made the campaign AI made sense. Which is diplomacy is improved, random declarations of war removed and the AI trying to have some invasion plan when they do declare war and not send 1-2 unit stacks at you at a time.

    • Panzeh says:

      Of course, MTW and STW are quite a bit simpler to play, where the AI can be a passable opponent by simply advancing into melee and that being that. ETW/NTW combat is just more complicated and that strategy won’t work(though honestly some seem to complain that the AI is too melee-happy, but that’s the best way to leverage a numerical advantage with troops that are good at melee).

      The ‘free movement’ system in campaign, where armies can move within provinces probably really hurts the AI during wars, but would you gimp your game design because the AI couldn’t handle it?

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Medieval isn’t “gimped” – an elegant, working design is superior than a more complex but broken one, isn’t it?

    • Collic says:

      @Panzeh It’s not ‘gimped’ design. Rome and the other games TW onward added more things for you to do, but they didn’t make the gameplay anymore challenging. I always mention galciv 2 at this juncture because the simple philosophy of not adding features an ai can’t use competently is the reason that game is an interesting challenge to play and Empire is a cake walk.

      It wasn’t strictly a problem in Rome, but by Empire theres just too much there (in terms of campaign features) so the AI fails to a hilarious degree.

      That is the problem a lot of the older TW players (by that I mean medieval\shogan) have with the newer games; once the novelty of the new mechanics wears off theres just nothing there. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

  31. Rabbitsoup says:

    I wanted to love empire but its not possible, the AI is broken on both the battle and the campaign maps, hell I still haven’t seen the AI attempt 1 naval invasion. As civ 5 is on the horizon and I think Its probably time to uni stall it and wait for a fix, or many fixes either in mod or patch form.

    • Fumarole says:

      You may not have seen a naval invasion but they are in the game after having been patched in.

    • Premium User Badge

      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Indeed, I’ve had the Dutch scupper my plans in the Road to Independence campaign by launching a naval invasion from the other side of the map and had Portugal attempt to retake Goa with a fleet launched from Lisbon (which thankfully never landed as Portugal were wiped out just as the fleet was within sight of my shores. Thanks Spain!). So they’re definitely in there now.

      From what I’ve seen of the campaign map AI it seems reasonably competent (bear in mind I only just playing the game recently). The less said about the battle map AI the better though, it seems capable of forming a half-way acceptable defensive line but anything beyond that seems to be a big ask. Still, the outright lunacy of fort sieges is entertaining in its own right.

  32. Snall says:

    I’ll stick with the Darth mod E:TW for a while yet..

  33. bill says:

    @Alphabet (because this won’t work):
    There’s a difference between being completely broken and not doing anything, and not being able to effectively manage all of the 100s of soldiers and units on a 3d battlefield covered with obstacles and plan and react effectively to all strategies thrown at it by human opponents. ;-)

  34. Andrew Dunn says:

    People who nostalgise about the Shogun and Medieval AI are the worst people.

    The AI was just as prone to buggering about like a mad horde of termites in those games. Which is pretty amazing considering there was a limited number of (I think) hand-crafted battle maps for you to fight on rather than the huge variety of possible battlefields from Rome onwards.

  35. Dominic White says:

    I’d just like to remind people that even the greatest minds in AI writing still can’t come up with an expert-level Go/Othello AI. That’s a game played on a simple grid, with a single type of piece, and only a couple of rules.

    A Total War game is played on a grid of variable height/stability that can host hundreds of thousands of pieces of hundreds of different kinds. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle it works at all. People hail GalCiv2 as having great AI, but that’s because it’s working in abstracts, and builds its armies from templates. If it had a tactical combat layer, you can bet your bottom dollar that players would stomp it nine times out of ten unless it cheated.

    AI is probably one of the most amazingly complicated fields in games development right now. A lot of the games praised as having really good AI (Half-Life 1 and FEAR spring to mind) are actually mostly scripted, with AI entities given a roadmap of nodes telling them where cover is, where weapons are, etc, and they follow pretty basic rules to navigate it.

    • MD says:

      While Othello hasn’t been solved, computers overtook the best human players way back in the 90s.

    • MD says:

      That might have been ambiguous: I meant “in the 90s, which were a long time ago” not “early in the 90s”. The key matches were played in 1997.

  36. Dain says:

    I’m going to play the other Napoleonic game out there! Like.. ah well.. old games with bad mechanics seen through rose tinted lenses (Cossacks? Yeah, I remember the famous bit of Austerlitz where Napoleon built a base and recruited soldiers right there and then) or current games (With needlessly complex interfaces, AI which is just as poor and battles which lack the spectacle)

    Lets face it, there’s very little out there trying to do anything of this scale. Perhaps it’s STILL overambitious after the massive scale of Empire. Perhaps they get it wrong, but they’re still getting it wrong a lot better than anyone else out there. One day someone will hopefully do something better, but that is not this day.

    • Vinraith says:

      AGEOD’s “Napoleon’s Campaigns” is excellent, but is obviously a more “hardcore strategy” title without the spectacle. EU3 (with expansions) has a treatment of the era as well, but obviously it’s quite open to alternate historical outcomes in the more extreme senses. Without the ability to mod some deeper strategy elements in, TW games run a little light for my taste. I can certainly understand the appeal of the spectacle, though.

    • Lemon scented apocalypse says:

      I adore EU3, (especially with magna mundi) although i dont own the newest (shinyist) expansion. (im waiting for it to be compatible with MM – i really am loathe to return to some of the features of vanilla – even with a beefed up casus belli (sp?) mechanic) & Although MM addresses SOME of the immersion issues with vanilla, It still feels too much like a glorified spreadsheet at times. That said it towers over the TW series. I just wish that they would expand on the diplomacy and warfare areas. (the trade is just right for the likes of me) If we could have something like the tactical screen at the start of strength & honour (minus the RT element) Placing regiments and scripting orders (Dom3 anyone?) That would make a happy me.
      BTW also strength&honour 2 is actually worth checking out. possibly one of the most initially opaque games ive ever played but opens up on some awesome possibilities. (although the RTS part is…..an aquired taste)

    • Dain says:

      “That said it towers over the TW series.”

      For you perhaps. Myself I have no truck with moving pieces around a board and dealing with spreadsheets unless it has an outcome, I’d rather be in the thick of the action. Both of the games you guys mention are the sort of game I don’t want to play. No doubt they succeed very well at what they want to do, but I really want to SEE and have some influence on battles. My choices there are extremely limited.. Les Grognards is the only alternative out there really, and that feels quite dry despite the scale and has a needlessly complex interface. Still, I think if the interface was tidied up and at least the animations were improved I’d love the damn thing.

      In the mean time, I’ll keep working on my own Napoleonic mod ;) *shameless plug* http://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php?topic=42454.msg1099696#msg1099696

  37. Howl says:

    I wasn’t going to get this but a friend wanted to do co-op skirmishes and such so I caved in. 20GB later and I’m pleasantly surprised at how well integrated the Steamworks features are. From Total War Online automatically using your Steam profile and picture, to inviting Steam friends into your multiplayer games, to seeing your friends stats within game, along with their Steam profiles and stats. Very cool, very effortless.

    More Steamworks in games please. Oh and the campaign map in Eyefinity, with bezel management, at 6048×1080 is pure win but the UI could be better centralised to avoid swivel head syndrome.

  38. SirKicksalot says:

    GSC should make a new Cossacks and bitchslap the douchefaggotry that is Empire. I won’t pick up Napoleon after I got burned with Empire no matter what people say, I’m just too traumatised.

  39. Derf says:

    After the shambolic failure that was Empire, I have absolutely no interest in Napoleon. I wouldn’t piss on it to put out a fire.

    Total war is as dead as… dead.

  40. qrter says:

    Can I register my black ugg boots on Steam after purchasing through your site?