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Empire: Total War

Reviewed on: PC

Creative Assembly
Publisher: SEGA
Rated: "T" for Teen

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6
Wow. Sometimes all you can say is wow.

There’s no way around it – with an incredibly deep gameplay system, near flawless visuals and an altogether engaging experience – Empire: Total War is nothing short of a masterpiece. Played other Total War games and weren’t that impressed? It doesn’t matter – Empire is a monumental accomplishment and a title that should be experienced by everyone.

To boil it down, Empire is a turn based strategy title based in the 18 century. While the thought of a historically based strategy game may scare some gamers off, it really shouldn’t.  Sure, you can follow the actual timeline, but why? The true allure of the title is letting your inner anarchist run wild and seeing what happens when you completely change things.

While much of Empire’s campaign is similar to that of previous Total War games – there are several enhancements.  Like in previous games you’ll choose one of a number of different national factions (a total of fifty factions are playable in all, but only 12 at the game’s start.)  Each faction controls multiple provinces and towns, and through military advances or diplomacy, it’s your goal to expand your empire.

"...the production values in Empire are simply astounding."


The true beauty of Empire is just how deep it truly is, and at the heart of this depth is the new “Road to Independence” campaign. Best looked at as a tutorial masked as a mini campaign, “Road to Independence” does a great job thinning the line between experienced players and novices by being a multi-leveled tutorial. Based more on story than the main campaign – road manages to teach players new to the series the basics, and how to play in general, while at the same time keeping experienced players abreast on the game’s new additions. We’ve seen mechanics like this before, but the production values in Empire are simply astounding.  Not a series well known for its story-telling ability, the developers manage to craft an engaging, albeit short narrative that serves as a mere appetizer for the incredibly addictive action to come.

What the main campaign lacks in story in makes up in pure scale - -and this is where Empire truly shines.  While you do have your main objectives, you are given an incredible amount of freedom – and your duties go well beyond the normal invade, destroy and pillage missions often seen in the genre. You’ll have to consider not only the military aspect of your Empire, but the legislative side of it as well. Needing to take into account everything from trade alliances, to diplomacy and even the taxes you charge your territories – micromanagers will feel right at home in Empire, and there’s no shortage of things to do.

Don’t think the series has gone soft and it’s all negotiations and baby kissing – with limited resources and territories, and so many nations – armed combat is inevitable, and it too is amazing. Each nation has its own strengths and its own weaknesses based on actual military and geographical data (for instance England will require a large naval force, but will lack the ground infantry that other nations such as America will posses).  This leads to an incredible amount of variety – and you’ll actually want to play through the campaign multiple times.  Running on a turn based system; Empire isn’t a game that you’re going to play through in a day, a week or even a month – adding an incredible amount of replayability.

"... the developers have done a great job mixing the strategic element with the combat."


There’s a definite curve to Empire that was absent in previous Total War games.  Now, even more than ever before, players will be tasked with combining their best military and economic strategies together to take over territories.  Sure, you’ll still have to take a territories capital to gain command, but you’re also going to have to invest time and money into the territories outlying resources including ports and factories to keep it a valued resource.  The payoff of this micromanaging is that as you develop these territories, smaller towns begin to spring up, leading to additional resources and revenue. While it may seem like a lot to take in, the developers have done a great job mixing the strategic element with the combat.  Besides the later stages of the game, which can feel quite bogged down by smaller tasks, many of these strategic elements have been streamlined, letting you get into the meat of the game faster.

The simplified controls really help Empire stick out from previous Total War games. One of the areas that have been dramatically improved is the trading system. Rather than being forced to spend the time shuffling merchants throughout your multiple territories, you simply use the new diplomacy screen to setup a general trade alliance with your allies. Of course, you’re limited to trade the goods your territories produce, or you can use might – and blockade your enemy’s trade routes, but beware of the repercussions when doing so.

It’s easy to not notice many of these improvements when you’re getting lost in the graphic and sound quality of Empire. Battles are recreated with such minute detail; you’ll find it hard not to stare. Nowhere is this more evident than in the game’s new naval battle system. You’ll actually see men rushing from deck to deck, rushing to take care of the ship. There’s also something strangely satisfying about watching a ship splinter and split apart from cannon fire when it’s animated so well.

It’s evident that Empire needs a heavy-duty system to play at its best, but it does do reasonably well on a standard system. Though there was a bit of system lag, that proved to be the exception, rather than the rule and the game ran smoothly even when there was an incredible amount of action on screen.

Strategy fans – you already know you need this game. It’s a must own, plain and simple. Those who have shied away from the genre, you need it too. There has never been a better jumping on point than Empire: Total War. Think about it – an incredibly engaging tutorial to get you acquainted mixed with incredible visuals and deep, lasting gameplay? Why would you not want such a masterpiece? 



CHEATS USED: $999.999 Gold, One Turn Recruitment, One Turn Construction

Most cheat codes are an over and done affair – but it’s truly remarkable when a strategy game requires you to think before using them.  The great thing about the cheats available in the trainer for Empire: Total War is that while giving you an advantage over your opponents, they still require quick, decisive thinking to be used properly.  Each of the cheats has only a short window of opportunity to be activated before its effects are null and void –  meaning you still get the effects, but still get that sense of urgency.

By far the most useful cheat though is being able to acquire $999.999 in gold. You’re able to use this new found wealth in nearly all aspects of your game. Want to build up your army? You’ve got the cash. Feel like you need to stimulate your economy and invest some cash into your trades or industries? It’s your call.

It may not be all that fair to use these cheats against an unknowing enemy – but after all; all is fair and love and war right?



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