A school gym in England, mid-'90s, and two local rugby players await orders. One is small and wide and called Adrian, and one is tall and weighs about 20 stone. He's Big Dave. Adrian has been getting flattened by Big Dave all day but he keeps getting back up. It's the rugby training in him: you bloody well get back up if you're knocked down. But this instinct is starting to annoy the people he's in the school gym for, the people making the sports game. They're trying to motion-capture for a rugby game and would rather Adrian lay still. They should be careful what they wish for.
The outstanding Total War series has been around for 15 years, and to celebrate, you can play the games for free this weekend via Steam. Should be just enough time to conquer a continent.
Eurogamer has spoken to Creative Assembly studio director Mike Simpson about the future of Total War. What new historical settings are under discussion? Will there be more remakes? What about consoles? Those questions, and more, are answered in the article below.
Total War developer The Creative Assembly will appear at Rezzed: The PC and Indie Games Show to exclusively show the future of its strategy series.
Attendees at the Eurogamer event will get the first look at the developer's next project during a presentation celebrating the studio's 25th anniversary, scheduled to take place 6th July at 1pm UK time.
"This year, The Creative Assembly is celebrating a quarter of a century making games," said Total War lead designer James Russell. "I'll be at Rezzed giving a talk on the making of the Total War series, and showing a sneak peek of what we're doing next. Exciting times - see you there!"
Minecraft maker Markus "Notch" Persson is being courted by Creative Assembly for the next Total War game.
The current generation of consoles aren't powerful enough to host the Total War series, says developer The Creative Assembly - but it's optimistic that the next generation will be able to, and the Horsham studio has a plan that could see its successful strategy series finally making the jump.
Total War: Shogun 2 won't be getting mod tools anytime soon, developer Creative Assembly has announced, though it's not for want of trying.
They say it's called a revolution because over time it always comes full circle. And that saying applies perfectly the Total War series.
SEGA has announced that new downloadable content for Empire: Total War is launching today via Steam.
After nearly 10 years, SEGA and Creative Assembly's seminal Total War series is ready for Campaign multiplayer.
Steam is halving the price of Empire: Total War this week to celebrate the release of the Warpath Campaign expansion.
SEGA has announced a downloadable Warpath expansion for Empire: Total War.
EA has released an enormous 2GB patch for ageing online shooter Battlefield 2. And, what ho, Creative Assembly has dated and detailed a much-needed update for Empire: Total War as well.
The Battlefield 2 patch makes expansions Armored Fury and Euro Forces free for all, on top of adding Highway Tampa and Blue Pearl maps. Plus, BF2 now works with Windows Vista, supports widescreen and can use more than 2GB of RAM.
Battlefield 2 may be over four years old, but with age comes fewer bugs, as well as system requirements less demanding on today's PCs. The Battlefield 2 website can tell you more, as can our original BF2 review.
Capcom's Resident Evil 5 was the best-selling game in the US last month, shifting nearly 1 million units on Xbox 360. The PS3 sold around a third less to finish at four, according to NPD results for the month.
SEGA has claimed its first UK All-Formats number one of the year in the shape of Empire: Total War, which pips Killzone 2 to the summit by around 1,600 units according to compiler Chart-Track.
Creative Assembly has revealed more details of the upcoming campaign multiplayer patch for Empire: Total War.
"The campaign mode allows two friends (or mortal enemies) to play against one another and the AI through the Grand Campaign mode," communications manager Kieran Brigden told Eurogamer readers in yesterday's live interview.
"Players will be given the option of fighting every battle as the enemy, meaning whoever your friend fights wherever in the world it will always be the two of involved in a deathmatch.
The biggest anachronism? At the moments when the cannons were going off and the thin red line was being turned into thick red paste, I found myself humming the 1812 Overture. The game's about the 1700s. Totally anachronistic. Unforgivable. Unforgivably brilliant, that is.
That happens a lot. The Total War games have always bridged the world of hardcore wargames and the PC mass-market. It was appropriate that Rome: Total War was used as part of the BBC's Time Commanders TV series - Total War is simultaneously dignified history and entry-level pop. As such, Empire has me excited about a period of military history I wouldn't normally give a damn about, reaching for the meagre reference points I have to process it: from Sharpe to War and Peace, whether it's in the right period or not (and it's usually not). Empire not only captures the glamour of shiny buttons and musket-shot - it convinces me that there is glamour in shiny buttons and musket-shot. It's quite the game.
It's also quite a lot of game, full of so many individual bits and pieces that a little top-level over-view will probably profit us. Empire is the fourth period (and fifth game) to be explored by Creative Assembly in a Total War format, after Japanese Shogunate wars, Medieval (twice) and Rome. The idea is a sort of streamlined credibility; while it tweaks a lot of the historical details for the purposes of a real-time strategy game, it's also a lot more like a wargame than almost anything in the mainstream.
Valve and SEGA and Creative Assembly have popped an Empire: Total War demo on Steam.
SEGA has announced a definite street date of 4th March for 18th-century battlefield strategy title Empire: Total War.
Peculiar bedfellows, perhaps? There was always going to be a clash somewhere in this year's Coming Attractions as we sorted our way through 12 categories, but you could argue there's more that unites fighting and strategy than divides them. Both are about trying to take maximum of advantage of your opposition's weaknesses, both reward patience, concentration and consideration, and as of Red Alert 3 both have a thing for impractical women's clothing.
According to a Shacknews report, Sega is delaying Empire: Total War to "early March".
It seems appropriate, writing about a Total War game, to start off with a quote from Sun Tzu. Having pored through Wikiquote for a few more minutes than I'd intended - his Art of War really is bite-sized entertainment, even to flaky real-life pacifists like myself - I settled on "You cannot stop innovation". It's not the most colourful quote, but as Empire marks the biggest leap in innovation since the first Total War game, it seems more relevant than the strange stuff about building your enemies a golden bridge to retreat across. Golden bridges? That'd be really slow and expensive. Idiot.
Steam is offering Rome: Total War Gold Edition free to anyone pre-ordering Empire: Total War.
Creative Assembly has told Eurogamer that it would "love to do" Total War on consoles.
Empire will be the first Total War game made by the series-founding Creative Assembly team since Rome four years ago, and will be twice as big. While the three years of effort poured into Empire may not be as immediately apparent as Rome's jump from 2D to 3D, there are some meaty and if not more impressive leaps made beneath the surface. And for a series that's earned 9/10 for every major instalment (including Medieval 2 - developed in Australia) that makes us ever so excited.
The next game in Creative Assembly's Total War series will be with us on 6th February 2009.
Entitled Empire: Total War, the PC-exclusive builds on the series by adding controllable naval warfare - an area previously restricted to the computer calculating which side wins.
This means you can turn the tides of victory on the high-seas in much the same way you can on land, overseeing masterful strategies to wrong-foot your rival commanders and send them to a watery grave.
SEGA plans to deploy Empire: Total War here on 6th February 2009.
SEGA has whipped out its calendar and put dates alongside its upcoming titles, including Sonic Unleashed, which will be out this November. However, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Empire: Total War both fall into 2009.
Part one of our strategy and simulation roundup covered Halo Wars, Civilization Revolution and Football Manager Live, amongst others. Here's the rest of the best.
SEGA has unveiled Empire: Total War as the next game in the highly acclaimed strategy series.
Conquer the 18th Century.