|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Creative Assembly||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Perhaps the biggest addition to the Total War formula is the new multiplayer options. You can choose to allow human players to drop into your single-player campaign and control the opposing army. Because the game can charitably be described as "deliberately paced," The Creative Assembly added in several options to speed up multiplayer games. You can set the game to auto-resolve all battles and adjust difficulty levels for each player individually. During the other player's turn, you can still schedule construction in your territories, check on building queues, and busy yourself with a few other activities that limit the amount of time that would otherwise just be spent waiting.
The multiplayer mode also offers up cooperative gameplay in which two players team up and communicate with one another via voice chat; another first for the series. While my multiplayer experience was smooth, I've heard other players complain of some minor lag issues and the occasional freeze. Battles simply end if one player drops out, so it's best not to get into a multiplayer game if you're not sure that you've got the time. There's also an option that allows a second human player to drop into your game and control an enemy army - an excellent addition to the formula for those gamers who delight in messing with their friends!
There is a ton of content to be found in Napoleon: Total War, and there should be something in it to appeal to all types of strategy gamers. I am particularly fond of the naval battles, in which positioning and working with the wind is key to victory. When two massive hundred-gun ships go head to head, the slow battle to get into firing position while keeping your profile as small as possible is amazingly nerve-wracking. The gorgeous water effects and detailed ship destruction doesn't hurt, either. That's the part of the game that worked best for me. For you, it might be the complex effect of building different structures or the huge-scale land battles that send hundreds of soldiers marching towards one another with rifles at the ready.
The scope of Napoleon: Total War is somewhat smaller than previous games in the series - Research and Diplomacy have been de-emphasized, likely because of the shorter time frame in which the events in the game take place. Even so, Napoleon: Total War is such an immense title that any fan of the genre should check it out. If you're not typically a strategy gamer, there might be something in here to convert you.
J. Matthew Zoss
CCC Freelance Writer