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GC: Empire: Total War revealed

Conquer the 18th Century.

SEGA has unveiled Empire: Total War as the next game in the highly acclaimed strategy series.

Creative Assembly has been working on it for a year already, and is aiming to bring it to PC in 2008.

Empire will be the most modern era the game has tackled to date, and will focus on historical themes like the Industrial Revolution, the American struggle for independence, and the race to control Eastern trade routes.

The biggest change will be battles at sea, which have moved from a tacked-on feature to being fully controllable; manoeuvring your forces as you would your troops on land, taking into account weather and water effects, and pummelling your opponents with cannon before boarding them with a cutlass in your teeth.

Weaponry on the traditional battlefield has changed, too, putting cannon and muskets at your disposal as armies rely more heavily on gunpowder.

Empire has also made significant strides in the Campaign Map element of the game. Trade, Diplomacy and Espionage are said to be much improved, alongside a refined UI and better advice from on-screen advisors.

"Empire: Total War is a huge revolutionary step for the series. We're delighted to introduce true 3D naval combat, something that adds a totally new dimension to Total War games." said Mike Simpson, considered the father of the Total War series.

"We're genuinely excited about what we're achieving with the naval battles and also by the scale of the improvements being made to the core of the game - the land battles and the campaign. This will undoubtedly be the biggest and best Total War game we've ever made."

Shogun: Total War was the first game in the series, and appeared back in 2000 on PC. The aim of the game is to conquer a Risk-style map by building up settlements and armies, then changing to a real-time battlefield view where you can overpower your opposition. Complexity has grown considerably over the years, culminating in 2006's launch of Medieval II: Total War, which earned substantial critical acclaim.

Creative Assembly is also currently working on a PS3 and 360 action game called Viking: Battle for Asgard.

Head over to our Empire: Total War gallery for the first naval-themed screenshots.