Cue enormous, glorious battle and Venetians going home in a Byzantium ambulance.
Obviously, the pack also includes the things that were patched between Medieval II's release and now. In case you haven't been paying attention, that includes the ability to give orders to subordinate generals (e.g. "Stay where you are, idiot." "Don't stay where you are, idiot.") and subtler controls of the time. Also, for the first time, multiplayer on the strategy map. It's only hot-seat, without the ability to play the battles on the tactical-maps, but it's a start and gives me hope that one day fellow Eurogamer Jim Rossignol and I will be able to actually determine whether his tendency to ignore merchants or mine to not slaughter civilians in captured cities is actually more stupid. I mean, we could do it now, but there's no way we're going to share a seat. Especially not a hot one.
Those minimal criticisms? Well, unlike the majority of the previous add-on packs, there's no actual fundamental deep mechanistic change for commanders to wrestle with. There's nothing like how Barbarian Hordes - simulating migratory tribes movement - worked in Rome: Barbarian Invasion. Instead, you have lots of minor, contextual tweaks for you to worry about. Some of these are major - like how the Teutonic Knights in the Teutonic campaign are limited to developing up the Castle path - but it's not game-changing. What it is, is game freshening. Each campaign has its own character, helped by the masses of character art, voice-overs and general medieval fundamentalist fun.
The second criticism is that you could argue that this game really leans more towards a mod. Which isn't true - it's actually four mods, of the highest quality, released for a true expansion pack price (i.e. twenty quid). There are some mods you'll pay for and - unless something goes drastically wrong - Kingdoms belongs in their numbers.
This is increasingly sounding like a review. That I'm showing this much unvarnished excitement over the pack with a month and a half until release is proof of that this is looking like something special. The only possible bugbear is that the campaigns becoming increasingly buggy past the early stages (I've only got into the mid-game in the Crusades pack, which showed no problems). Since Creative Assembly's record is hardly clean on that point, that's a relatively large possible bugbear. If that's not true...well, if there's a better add-on pack this year, then...well, I'll be incredibly glad. But also surprised.
Where was I?
Criticisms are minimal.
Now, those Turks...