I meant to post this before I jetted off to the US for a while. It's a report on my initial impressions of Medieval: Total War - Kingdoms, which may be of interest to humans.
I'll confess that I didn't actually give the original game as much of my attention as I'd have liked. I wasn't commissioned to review it, so couldn't give it any of my professional time and there was so much else around that was genuinely new, returning to an old friend like a Total War games was relatively down my list. Which is a shame - and serves me right. Getting stuck into the add-on pack is a startling experience, and that it doesn't include any Carthaginians doesn't stop me loving it.
That aside, it's interesting to note that Medieval II was the first time in the Total War series which it wasn't determinedly pushing onwards. No matter what your particularly favourite is - and there's an argument that the less-units in Shogun leads to an increased purity to the actual game, rather than wrestling with dozens of very similar unit types - there was an actual step forward every time in the road from Shogun to Medieval to Rome. The advances in Medieval II are relatively sleight, a matter of approach and polish rather than a fundamental change.
From what rumours I hear, the next proper Total War game is about to be announced. What it includes and doesn't include will have to be picked over. It could be a sign whether it's reached the position of static maturity, with the future of the series being one standardisation - the standard franchise slow rise and fall depending on a team's interest - or whether it was Medieval II which was the mistep (in terms of vision), a stopgap stumble when they prepared their next real campaign.
I suspect it's the latter. Which may be optimism, or may be me knowing something I can't talk about yet.