Medieval 2 Total War is a real time strategy game in the Total War series. Set in the years between 1080 to 1530 the game tasks the player with building an empire for their chosen nation.
The game takes place on two fronts, on the campaign map and in battle. The campaign map is where the player will spend most of their time and is where they control their empire and army. The battle map is where the player control units and fight battles, very much like most other real time strategy games. Both states are fun to play but the campaign map has an addictive quality about it, planning the overall strategy of an empire can become more fun to do than battle. The game does give you an option to auto resolve battles and is a welcome feature as the battles can last a while and some may wish to focus on the overall strategy.
Being set in medieval Europe religion plays a major part in the player�s affairs and Creative Assembly has chosen to make religion a major part of the game and introduces the most interesting character in the game, the Pope. The Pope is the figurehead of the Catholic Church and the Papal States and if the player chooses to play as a catholic nation they have to be aware of his wants and needs. The Pope has the power to turn all the other catholic nations against you so he must be appeased. This makes the campaign mode more dynamic and a lot more fun to play. The role of the church in the game adds a new level of thinking to the game with the player having to research a countries religion before dealing with them.
Being set in Medieval Europe around the time of the Crusades, the game takes advantage of this and adds crusades to the Popes power. The battle for the Holy Land allows the player to build an empire around the other major European powers while they build up strength to challenge them, it is a very good game play mechanic and also is a great opportunity to introduce new units which the developer has taken advantage of.
The game�s graphics are great but they are only a slight improvement on Rome: Total War, where the extra development time has gone is in the animation. Now instead of an army of robots performing the same action over and over, each soldier has there own animation and this in effect adds more realism to the game. Also what helps in distinguishing the soldiers is that the game randomly assigns each soldier with a different set of items for their costumes, so whilst the whole army may look similar when zoomed in they have differently coloured amour or shield and different types of items. Whilst not sounding impressive it makes other games' soldiers look generic in comparison.
The A.I in the game is a major weak point; the A.I on the battlefield is perfectly competent most of the time but occasionally will stop for no apparent reason and won't attack. It is occasionally but should not happen. The campaign A.I is too aggressive and definitely favors the computer controlled nations. Also the whole system of alliances and diplomacy is undermined because the A.I makes stupid and irrational decisions. For example it will often cancel alliances because you have proposed a trade negotiation which favours them, which is unrealistic.
Also another problem with the game is one that has plagued the series, the problem is the interface. The interface has changed little since Rome Total War and it�s disappointing since it was an issue then. The problem is that the interface is too busy and too mixed up, the game doesn't do a good job of displaying vital information as it gets lost in the mass of messages.
The game is built upon the code base and engine of Rome: Total war so whilst being improved graphically and mechanically it is more of an evolution of Rome not a revolution. The game shares the same technology as its predecessor and whilst the graphics and some mechanics have improved it is a small step forward instead of a giant leap like people were expecting.
Medieval 2: Total War is a game that has some problems with the main one that it is the sequel to one of the most innovative and best real time strategy games. The expectation is immense and whilst it doesn't innovate at much as its predecessor it does take a step forward. The problems with the A.I and interface don't stop this being the best game in the Total War series and one of the best real time strategy games ever.
9 / 10