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.
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!"
Having learned a "phenomenal amount" about digital distribution with the download-only release of Rome: Total War expansion Alexander, Creative Assembly and SEGA are now planning to pop it in a box for those of you without Internets. Rendering this news item somewhat moot, you might argue. It'll be out on September 1st.
Downloadable extras. For cash. There's a lot of that this year, isn't there? While most of the attention has circled around Valve (positively, for its excellent Episode 1) and Bethesda (less positively, for its less excellent give-horsey-some-armour), it's not just the first-person developers who are getting involved. Creative Assembly's Alexander is the most notable example of a strategy developer trying this, and while not up to Episode 1, it's in a position to snort at horsey-armour. That it's about our favourite always-entertaining top-ancient greek bisexual conqueror's another bonus.
Alexander presents a trident of gaming additions - the extended campaign mode, historical battles and the extended multiplayer. While it's arguable that, like its mother game, the map-based campaign-mode is the true heart of the game, the historical matches are of more import than we've seen typically.
In fact, it's a little more like a traditional RTS-campaign. The six of Alexander's great victories (oh - all right, five of Alexander's and one of his old man Phillip when Alexander was just there) are played in sequence, requiring you to beat each one before progressing to the next. Between each you get an extended piece of narrative, with Brian Blessed on voice-overs. One of the few golden rules of videogames is that it's always better to have Brian Blessed doing a voice-over than not. You think we love Shadow of the Colossus? We'd have to make an extension off the top of the mark scheme to contain our ardour if they'd had our Brian's voice booming some gobligook from the heavens. No, really.
SEGA has announced that the latest expansion pack for Rome: Total War will be available for download three days before it turns up in the shops.
SEGA's confirmed the brilliant news about its Rome: Total War - Alexander expansion. You know, that Brian Blessed is voicing over the cut-scenes. Wicked!
SEGA's also talked it up in a bit more detail. It's out in June and will be sold through digital distribution on www.sega.com and other official sites, and features a new campaign, six new historical battles, and adds four new factions and more than 60 units.
They reckon it adds up to 30 hours of gameplay in total. There's a new campaign - spanning Alexander's unification of Greece and his subsequent conquest of the Persian Empire - and the six historical battles, playable online and via LANs, too - include Alexander's triumphs against the Greeks, Persians and Indians.
The Creative Assembly's working on an expansion pack for Rome: Total War called Alexander, according to PC Zone, and it'll be released through a digital distribution service when it's finished.
Alexander will span the years from the death of Philip II of Macedon in 336BC to the great warmonger's own clog-popping, says Zone, with six historical battles that highlight his biggest fights, multiplayer and four new factions.
Those are Alexander's Macedonian army, The Persians, The Indians and the Barbarians, with 50 or so new units included in total and - as Zone rightly points out, brilliantly - Brian Blessed doing the job of game narrator.