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Creative Assembly



T (Teen)



Q1 2004



- Great bang for the buck for strategy fans

- Real-time strategy on a huge scale

- Good attention to detail, you may just learn something!

- Online play



- Very experienced players dominate online play

- Pretty damn tough

- Management can be a headache as you progress



Review: C&C Generals (PC)

Review: C&C Generals Zero Hour (PC)

Review: Emperor - The Battle for Dune (PC)

Review: Red Alert 2 (PC)



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Medieval Total War Battle Collection

Score: 8.5 / 10


If you’re like most gamers, you have a love/hate feeling for software compilation packs.  Hate them because you may have already plunked down full price for each title included in the compilation.  Love them because you may have missed the games the first time around even though you heard how great they were.  Strategy fans that for whatever reason missed both Medieval: Total War and its expansion Viking Invasion should be rushing off to buy this 2-for-1 deal – it will easily be your gaming fix for the next couple of months.


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Although the controls are similar to other real-time strategy (RTS) titles, the attention to detail of the time periods can be staggering (as many found with Creative Assemblies previous Shogun titles).  You never have to worry about fatigue when commanding your troops in C&C Generals but in the Total War realm it can mean the difference between victory and being crushed without mercy.





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In fact, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the shear scope of preparing for battle with the number of different available units and trying to prevent battles from spiraling into chaotic messes.


Preparing for battle doesn’t involve plunking down production facilities and churning out a horde of troops to throw to throw at your enemy.  Instead there is deliberate planning phase that is almost separate from the “action” portion 


of the game but is absolutely integral to the gameplay.  Poor planning and management will result in failure – believe me, this is something that I came to know over and over again.


This compilation pack may not be a recommended title for beginners because it is so complex.  (It actually reminded me of most of the offerings from Shrapnel Games, where your brain routinely exploded in the attempt to handle too many details at once.)  You have to learn the various advantages/disadvantages of every unit type – and there are plenty of unit types – in any given situation, from siege battles to running down a hill.  And then there’s managing provinces that you’ve conquered…  Offsetting some of this complexity is the straightforward control that never really gets in the way of enjoying the game.  The last thing you want to be worrying about is the control when you’re watching Total War’s trademarked massive battles (that can be saved and viewed later so you can pick apart your victories or loses).


The graphics are straightforward without a lot of detail but the trade-off is well worth it.  Massive armies pitched against each other is just too much fun to watch. (Controlling the camera is a snap, too, so you can watch it from any angle.)


The pack sports online multiplayer just as it did when Medieval and Viking Invasion shipped originally, which is good news – at least nothing has been taken out. But it means if you're jumping into the fray now, you'll have to get used to being crushed by gamers that have been playing since Medieval was released.  The computer AI tends to present a consistent challenge so even if you want to avoid online play, you'll get more than enough hours out of the pack.


For those expecting more in the compilation – like some extras not available previously – will be disappointed.  For first-time buyers this is a great value for your gaming dollar.


- Omni

(April 3, 2004)


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