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Mar 2009 09

Game Review: Empire: Total War

Games Review

Empire: Total War!

So I have long been a fan of the Total War franchise created by Creative Assembly..  Their games have always been pretty fun -- but most of them have been fairly buggy..  There was a lot of stuff going on and the games were generally still playable, so for the most part those bugs could be forgiven.

Empire Total War is the latest in the franchise and easily the most anticipated as well as the most well received..  All the various publications have drooled over this game and praised it for being pure liquid awesome as well as having given it a 94 meta score which pretty much assures it will be the game of the year..

I read everything I could find about it and was very much looking forward to this game -- I do enjoy it for the most part.  I just don't feel it deserves quite all the hype is has gotten.  More over I kind of wonder if the Creative Assembly folks didn't pay for some of those favorable reviews... Either that or the reviewers didn't play the same game they published..

I'm going to complain a bit now, but let me say that the game is good and I do like it.   It's major failing at this point is the vast number of bugs..

So, as good as it is now, it will be even better once they fix all the annoying bugs, and man are there ever a lot of them..  But the potential is so huge I can't wait.. I'm still playing the hell out of it and I do for the most part enjoy it, but the bugs detract from the game something awful.

There are quite a few memory leak style bugs where the game eventually will crash just due to repeated play or long term play.. Feh.. No big deal.   I completely understand this sort of thing and can forgive it.

The big issue is the horrible AI employed by the enemy.   The whole point of this game is to have combat in the form of 18th century gun lines where out maneuvering your opponent is as important as the shots fired..

The computer doesn't do any of that..  It just masses troops towards you in huge blocks of chaos..  Things like buildings and walls completely confuse the AI and a lot of the time they will just stand there stupidly while you blow them away.

Or you will go out of your way to develop a clever tactic only to have the game ignore you completely and march all their troops in a straight line for no apparent reason..

It's almost impossible to lose a combat at this point just because the AI is retarded.. It's unfortunate, but true..

Frankly, the AI is just appaulingly bad..  I know this stuff is hard, but it really shouldn't have been shipped in the state it is in.  I don't blame the developer for this, this is yet another in a long line of games being pushed out the door before they were ready.  It really sucks that publishers are STILL doing this.

Look, I understand that a game (any game) is lost revinue until the game is out the door, but releasing it before it's ready only hurts your bottom line.  It hurts your bottom line for years to come!  Releasing a game before its ready to be released pisses off the fan base making them not want to buy your next game.   It's extremely short sited to publish a game thinking that you'll fix it in a patch.  You guys need to stop doing it!

So.. all in all, the game is good.. I give it a strong 4 out of 5..  What keeps it from being a 5 out of 5 is the horrible AI.  That's the only thing..  There are other issues that folks complain about, like the lack of unique uniforms or some little nitpicky details about the animations.. feh.. I can look past that entirely..  The AI is hard to get past..

Lets hope they stay true to their model and support the game for a while.. If they patch the AI a bit, the game will be worth every bit of that 94..

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