Napoleon: Total War Preview
Napoleon: Total War box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: The Creative Assembly 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 23, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 (2 Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

October 20, 2009 - Quit standing around with your hands in your pockets, or vest, and get busy! That means you too Napoleon. We've got an empire to amass.

Napoleon: Total War screenshot

Napoleon: Total War is the first in the Total War series to feature a stand-alone game dedicated to one famous general. Everyone has heard about Napoleon, but few realize just how significant he was in the development of Europe and to the evolution of warfare. Napoleon was a tactician. His military might, unlike his stature, was nothing short of colossal. He was a brilliant strategist and a commanding leader. A narrative runs throughout the campaign keeping players informed of historical events and progress. Playing Napoleon: Total War, you'll gain respect for the leader as you witnesses his successes firsthand. And should you find it tiring to be admiring, you can always try conspiring. In other words, you can play against Napoleon as well.

Napoleon: Total War combines real-time and turn-based strategy elements with both single and multiplayer modes. The battles are said to be intense and extremely challenging although not inaccessible to newcomers. Subtle clues can be gleaned by the sophisticated player and used to gain advantages. For instance, knowing the weakness of the opposing general may allow you to exploit that knowledge on the battlefield. That weakness may be a lack of discipline among his units, or it might be a deficiency of weaponry. In any case, you have to be careful to ascertain what areas they may be proficient in.

Battles take place on land and on sea. Naval battles have never played a key role in the Total War series, but they can't be ignored in this game, an all-encompassing recreation of the Napoleonic era. The game is filled with related missions and challenges under the umbrella of three major campaigns taking place in Egypt, Italy, and the rest of Europe. There are more than 300 units in the game, all of them are new. The graphics engine has been upgraded to provide more visual detail right down to the epaulettes on the soldiers' uniforms. Virtually all of the soldiers in any given unit are uniquely rendered so as not to look like an army of clones. They will have different faces and body types. Only the uniforms will be similar.

Napoleon: Total War screenshot

Improved graphics leads to more detailed particle effects. Smoke from musket fire will linger in the air while the charging cavalry will leave a cloud of dust in their wake, obscuring the view of the pursuing enemy. Weather effects are included not just to be admired but to be used as part of the overall strategy. Rain and fog can take a toll on unsuspecting units. Bogged down in the mud of a water-soaked field, troops will lose energy rapidly, plunging morale, and actually dying from such harsh conditions. Having skilled units that are enthusiastic is in reality, very important for success. Low morale among soldiers is deadly. Playing an integral role in this game, morale will affect many aspects of your army. A general with great leadership skills is all that is necessary to keep morale up. That means not making costly and repetitive mistakes. While poor environments can drain morale, good environments will enrich your army and boost morale as a result. This can come in the form of acquiring resources (through means both fair and foul).

When you capture a territory, you are able to exploit its resources be it mineral, man, or machine. Of course, there are other resources such as food, wood, horses, buildings, and cold, hard cash, none of which start with the letter "M", which was why they were left out of the first sentence of this paragraph. As expected, resource gathering and processing, although rewarding, can be somewhat tedious. To make things more exciting you will be able to plunder and pillage territories. This will get you the goods much quicker, but at the expense of cooperation from the occupied populace. If you plan on staying in the area for any length of time, you're going to have to deal with these unhappy captives one way or another.

Napoleon: Total War screenshot

Towns are divided into three groups: industrial, economic, and intellectual. Weapons and ammo will be found in the industrial towns along with other manufactured goods. That cold, hard cash I mentioned can be found in the economic centers while the intellectual cities spawn educated men that can fulfill important roles such as engineers, doctors, and spies. The newly tweaked graphics engine will display unique and detailed architecture of each of the cities, towns, and villages that you visit. The developers maintain that the graphics will reflect the architecture of the period and locale.

Regardless of what general you command or what famous battle you undertake, the outcome can be different every time you play. There are so many variables to consider that success is never guaranteed. All battles will be hard fought with little given to chance. Napoleon: Total War is a challenging and deep game that doesn't appear to be overly complex, at least in terms of execution. The developers maintain that the game can be as complex as you want it to be, in terms of strategy, not rules and interface manipulation. According to developers, all of the new upgrades to this new Total War title do not require an upgrade in PC requirements. Let's hope the good news continues when the Napoleon: Total War disk is inserted into your PC.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Game Features:

  • Napoleon: Total War defines a new standard within the genre with exciting characters and a cinematic narrative, mind-blowing battle sequences and an unrivaled mix of turn-based and real-time strategy.
  • Take command and lead your armies on land and sea over three campaigns: Italy, Egypt, and Mastery of Europe. The seamless mix of objective-based missions and sandbox experience makes this the most complete Total War experience to date.
  • Napoleon features fully integrated multiplayer modes and a complete set of online functionality: Steam achievements, gameplay bonuses, uniform editor and voice communications.
  • Advanced weaponry enables new tactical options and even more exciting real-time battles on an epic scale, while the highly detailed environments and improved battlefield buildings guarantee a realistic recreation of famous historical battles.

  • Screenshots / Images
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