Empire: Total War is a strategy game set in the 18th Century. The game covers such important events as the growth of European continental empires like Prussia and Austria, the birth of the French Republic, the American Revolution, as well as the rise of global empires through naval supremacy and trade. It features some of the largest 3D fully featured naval combat ever seen in a game -- a new addition to the Total War franchise -- newly refined diplomacy and AI, a larger campaign map which includes North and South America, Africa and India along with Europe, and new campaign mechanics. For example, generals and admirals can recruit units in the field (which are dispatched from the nearest settlement or shipyard), and there are new formation tools for warfare that revolved around gunpowder weapons.
Empire: Total War was originally released for PC in 2009 with a Mac port, developed by Feral Interactive, following in 2012.
Land battles are fought in real time on a large battlefield, as in previous Total War games. Infantry combat in this period revolved around the use of firearms at close range, resulting in heavy losses. Terrain, cavalry charges, enfilade firing, artillery bombardments, morale, and other tactical considerations must be taken into account.
Muskets are not modern assault rifles -- requiring massed coordinated volleys to create casualties, and once they're fired, soldiers had to close with the enemy and use cold steel. At the start of the period, players have to make the choice between shooting at the last moment and not being prepared for melee or fixing bayonets. The land battles are being designed so that there is no single ‘right answer’ to that decision. This ensures that the tactics of timing and maneuver are vitally important. The period was full of successful bayonet charges and cavalry attacks. There’s nothing tame about a battlefield of any era, and hand-to-hand fighting was still a major part of any engagement. Melee fighting was as vicious in the 18th century as it had ever been. Cavalry played an important role on the battlefield too, not only in some famous charges but as a vital harassing force, constantly menacing the enemy into formations which were vulnerable to artillery. Formation discipline was crucial to victory so players will have to learn and master these, making more intelligent use of formation and maneuver than before. Add to that the importance of finding cover from enemy fire plus the ability to occupy and defend buildings and you have an environment more diverse and tactically challenging than any previous Total War battlefield.
Finding cover on the battlefield for your units introduces a brand new idea to the land battles. Buildings on the battlefield can become a tactical focus of battle because of the cover they provide. Historically, farm and village buildings often saw some of the most ferocious fighting in many famous battles of the period, from Blenheim to Waterloo. Empire allows for this by letting men deploy in buildings for the first time in a Total War game. However concentrating your men in buildings makes them prime targets for enemy artillery. All the buildings on Empires battlefields will be destructible. There are deployable items such as chevaux de frise (a kind of portable barrier studded with hideous spikes and blades) and earthworks that provide partial protection for units. The walls, trees and the outside of buildings that can be used as cover too. In addition, some units are trained to fire from a prone position in order to reduce their vulnerability to incoming fire.
Shall we keep a line a-stern, or cross the T, admiral? Formation fighting was just as important at sea as on land. Empire: Total War uses various line of battle formations to model this.
The new Navel Battles in Empire: Total War includes features such as realistic damage model for ships, sails that tear, and destructible masts. It also features an array of weapons and ammunition such as chain shots, round shots and grapeshots which can kill men, destroy guns, smash through different parts of a ship's hull and sink it. You can conduct boarding actions, and watch as your men cross cutlasses with the enemy. The wind plays a major part in the naval battles as the ships rely on the wind to navigate through battles, although new players can opt for a more forgiving, if they too often find themselves close hauled or in irons. The dynamic weather also has an important role in naval combat.
Famous and some not-so-famous characters are present in the game. However, because the unfolding of a TW game isn’t a fixed path, there is no guarantee that George Washington, or anyone else, will appear when the game is played (although you can be guaranteed to start with certain leaders, see below). History probably won’t repeat itself exactly as you play.
The character traits system was incrementally revised for Empire: Total War. Generals and admirals gain traits (some good, some bad, many both) based on where they serve how they acquit themselves. A frontier general who decimates the native peoples of arctic Canada may get bonuses when fighting in America, and a fierce reputation, but be hard drinking and unpopular. Magistrates and governors gain traits based on what policies you have them pursue. A Parisian magistrate who counts your growing fortunes from the fur trade may become a learned gentleman with a beautiful wife, loved by the rich, despised by the poor, with a reputation for sexual deviancy.
There are also gentlemen characters, like Paul Revere and Gottfried Leibniz, who conduct research, steal technology, and duel each other. Priests convert people to your religion, and rakes do the wet work that a refined gentleman won't (spying, assassinations and sabotage to be precise).
Whereas battles are fought in real time, decisions about government, trade, diplomacy, economics and research are conducted in a turn-based 4X strategic campaign mode. When armies or navies are moved into combat on the campaign map, a battle begins. The new animated campaign map features a huge cast of characters, and shows every single building and upgrade, rather than just the cities, castles and docks of previous games. The map is now more interactive, and has a more dynamic element to it. Towns will pop up as your provinces prosper. New towns present the player with an important strategic choice, as you must choose whether (and how) to develop a town for industry, research, entertainment, or religion. Gentlemen, rakes and priests spawn in the game depending on the buildings the player has built e.g the school has a special ability to spawn gentlemen.
The map is also much larger than the map used in previous Total War games consisting of 3 separate theaters of war: Europe, India and The Americas. There are also 4 different Trade Theatres that consists of the Brazilian Coast, the Ivory Coast, the Straits of Madagascar and the West Indies. Players can cut off supply lines, trade, docks and industry without tackling the main city. Units that you want built will be constructed at the nearest possible place and move to join up with their leader.
To make the campaign a little more accessible to players The Creative Assembly have added a new Road to Independence campaign which acts as a sort of tutorial mode. Set in the British colonies in North America and spanning from the settlement of Jamestown through the American Revolution, players start commanding units in a couple of small battles, then a few small provinces are added for them to govern eventually expanding to a conquest of America before eventually opening up into a Grand Campaign as the Americans.
The government system in Empire Total War consists of a Head of State along with a few ministers in the cabinet. Each minister has a different job e.g the Minister for the Army. Ministers can be fired and replaced by a new one anytime but the number of ministers the player can fire per turn depends on the Government type. There are three government types: absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, and republic.
If the populace of the nation's home region (capital) gets angry at the Government, they will send a letter of complaint or have a strike. On the first turn of discontent there will be disruptions to production and buildings, there will be a riot if the populace is still unhappy on the next turn , and the third turn the unhappy populace will start a revolution. During the Revolution, the player has to choose between siding with the revolutionaries or the loyalists and the revolution only ends when the revolutionaries capture the capital or are defeated. If the revolutionaries win, the new government type will depend on the social class of the revolutionaries. If the Nobility class started a revolution, it will result in Absolute Monarchy, the Middle class will create Constitutional Monarchy and the Lower class will turn the government into a Republic. The player must start, and win, a revolution in order to change government types, so such a change is a serious, and bloody, matter.
There are around 50 factions in the game, with 10 playable major factions and many minor factions. The major factions, and their leaders (in 1700) are:
- Austria, lead by Leopold I
- France, lead by Louis XIV
- Great Britain, lead by William III
- Maratha Confederacy, lead by Tarabai
- Mughal Empire (not playable)
- Ottoman Empire, lead by Mustafa II
- Poland-Lithuania, lead by August II
- Prussia, lead by Frederick I
- Russia, lead by Peter I
- Spain, lead by Charles II
- Sweden, lead by Charles XII
- United Provinces (Republic)
- The United States (only playable in the Road to Independence Campaign)
Empire features online multiplayer with one online mode upon release. The first mode gives two players a chance to engage in 1v1 or 2v2 real-time combat, players will be able to fight land battles with certain restrictions such as the amount of funds the players have to build their army, the time period in which the battle takes place and the map type. Players can also partake in historical battles that have preset armies and conditions or naval battles which are customized much like land battles are.
The disappointing one month delay of the game was grounds for an announcement of a second online mode, a full campaign multiplayer mode which will be made available via a patch sometime in the near future.
The game features a tech tree for the first time in the series, that allows players to research military, economic, and social innovations. Players can choose to focus on a whole host of different technologies that give units new abilities on the battlefield, or improve ships sailing and fighting performance. Other technologies will develop your economy and enable new buildings and infrastructure, and others will advance the educational level of your nation and speed up future research. You can use your gentlemen to infiltrate the universities of the other factions and steal their technology.
|Unlockable||How to Unlock|
|A New Rome||Demonstrate outstanding ability, and capture one hundred regions.|
|Accomplished Strategist||Complete the main campaign game on the easy difficulty setting.|
|Affairs of Honour||Use your duellists to kill twenty men on the "field of honour"|
|American Hero||Complete the Road to Independence campaigns freeing the American colonists from British rule!|
|Assassin!||Use your assassins to kill, in unlooked-for fashion, twenty men who hinder your plans.|
|Blooded||Demonstrate your sense of duty and honour: complete ten multi-player battles.|
|Bloody Madman||Carve a bloody path to victory: kill a hundred thousand enemies!|
|Command of the Ocean||As a commanding admiral, win ten multi-player naval battles.|
|Conqueror of All||Be hailed as a true conqueror: kill a million enemies!|
|Drumbeat to Victory||Draw the sword and march onwards: complete one quick battle.|
|Emperor of Europe||Subdue and hold all the provinces and regions in Europe at the same time.|
|Expansionist Power||Capture ten regions, anywhere in the world.|
|Founding Father||Take one region by conquest, somewhere in the world.|
|Grand Tactician||Win ten classic multi-player battles.|
|Into the Breach!||Attack! Attack! Attack! Win ten multi-player siege battles when commanding a besieging army.|
|l337 Guard||Achieve victory in ten multiplayer battles, cutting a bloody path to greatness through your enemies' plans.|
|Maharajah of the Indies||Have mastery over all the provinces and regions in India at the same time.|
|Marshal's Baton||Achieve victory in fifty multiplayer battles, dashing your enemies' hopes in pieces in the process!|
|Master of the Americas||Conquer or control all the provinces and regions in the Americas at the same time.|
|Observe Diplomatic Niceties||Use diplomatic threats to good effect by making gains from five separate negotiations.|
|Only Obeying Orders||Ensure that thirty missions, regardless of detail or type, are successfully brought to a conclusion.|
|Perfidious Beast||Use treachery to best effect by turning against at least five allied nations and attacking them.|
|Polymath||Have your natural philosophers and scientists research all the technologies available to your nation.|
|Raw Recruit||War sir, is a terrifying experience! Take part in a multiplayer battle.|
|Strategic Genius||Complete the main campaign game on the hard difficulty setting.|
|The "Chevaux de Frise"||Defend, sir, defend! Win ten multi-player siege battles when commanding the defenders of a fortress.|
|The Efforts of Others||Successfully steal five technologies researched by other nations.|
|Tyrant and Ogre||Bring terror to the hearts of men: kill half a million enemies!|
|Veteran Strategist||Complete the main campaign game on the medium difficulty setting.|
|Whiff of Grapeshot||Gain some experience of combat: complete one ranked battle.|
PC System Requirements
|Supported OS: Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista|
|Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Pentium or greater or AMD Athlon equivalent CPU|
|Memory: 1 GB RAM (XP) / 2 GB RAM (Vista)|
|Graphics: 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible hardware accelerated video card with shader version 2.0 support, 256 MB video memory|
|Display: Minimum screen resolution of 1280x1024 pixels|
|Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card|
Hard Drive: 15 GB free hard disk space formatted as NTFS
Peripherals: Windows compatible mouse and keyboard
Mac System Requirements
|OS: OS X 10.7.4||OS: OS X 10.7.4|
|Processor: 2GHz Intel||Processor: 2.4GHz Intel|
|Memory: 4 GB RAM||Memory: 4 GB RAM|
|Hard Drive: 15 GB free hard disk space||Hard Drive: 15 GB free hard disk space|
|Graphics: 256 MB video memory*||Graphics: 512 MB video memory*|
|Peripherals: DVD drive**, mouse||Peripherals: DVD drive**, multi-button mouse|
* The following graphics cards are not supported: ATI X1xxx series, Intel GMA series and NVIDIA 7xxx series.
** Boxed versions only.
The demo for Empire Total War was released 4.00pm on the 20th of February and can be downloaded via Steam (You need a steam account to download it).
The Creative Assembly has been criticized for not releasing mod tools for Empire: Total War (something later rectified in Total War: Shogun 2 with the release of the TEd editor and the Assembly Kit). Despite the lack of official mod tools and the perceived difficulty with modding the game, Empire has spawned many, most of which seek to address issues that plagued the game at launch.
A good place to check for mods would be Total War Center.
- DarthMod Empire: Brings better AI, more realistic battles, and more units while keeping the core game intact.
- Empire Realism: Upgrades various portions of the game to be more historically accurate, bring a sense of realism, and make the game more balanced.
- A Proper Empire: Terra Incognito: Changes many aspects of the game that is different from vanilla, this mod adds new concepts and gameplay, while still providing a fair and balanced game.