Napoleon: Total War Review

Heading to war.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 17th March 2010

Napoleon: Total War

  • Developer: The Creative Assembly
  • Publisher: SEGA
  • Release Date: 23rd February 2010

The Total War games have allowed us to take part in battles from some of the most key eras in history, such as Rome, Feudal Japan and the medieval times. However, the latest offering from the Creative Assembly focuses on one man, General and Emperor - Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon: Total War takes a slightly different approach over the other games in the franchise and instead offers story driven missions that revolve around key moments in Napoleons campaigns across Europe and Africa. You also get to play on the other side getting to take up the role of the various nations that opposed Napoleon. Whilst this story based approach makes the missions seem somewhat more cohesive and helps drive the game forward they aren’t the only new features introduced in the game.

As you would expect, Napoleon: Total War mixes the best elements of turn-based and real-time strategy games. The turn based elements allows you to manage any captured territories, research new technologies, recruit your army and move across the game map, When you come across an enemy army, or territory you get the opportunity to switch to real-time strategy battle which gives you direct control over your various units enabling you to have direct control over the outcome of battles, something that other turn based strategy games don’t allow. These massive battles are what Total War games are all about offering challenging large scale battles for you to take part in. However, as good as the real-time battles are, they aren’t perfect. The game allows you to line-up your various regiments of troops in different formations and position but this sadly can be far more complicated than you would expect. The controls for positioning and changing formations are very fiddly and more often than not your troops will often end up in the wrong formation or facing in a direction other than the one you desired! The games camera is completely manually controlled, there’s no automatic following of the current selected units as you would expect and the controls for the camera during the real-time strategy battles are also overly complex and getting it in the right position to see the action unfold is a job in itself. Being able to toggle various abilities on and off, such as firing at will, or melee charges battles can sometimes feel a little automatic due to the fact that units tend to use far too much of their own nuance to get the job done. If you fancy more of a challenge than that offered by the games more than capable A.I one of the new features of Napoleon: Total War is being able to search for real players to compete against online. With them taking up the role of the opposition, giving you a new challenge to experience and test out your strategies on.

Away from the real-time strategy component, Napoleon’s turn-based element is pretty much perfect. Again here the A.I poses a worthy challenge, and your computer controlled opponents provide more than adequate challenge often attempting to retake lost territories and pursuing your armies when you try to retreat. This can of course be the source of frustration as an under strength army being pursued can result in losing those units. However, the game does give you fair warning and clearly indicates the strength of a rival army above it. The game features a range of settings that allow you to modify the level of challenge each campaign present, you can limit the number of turns available to achieve your objectives or give yourself an unlimited amount of time to achieve your mission. Each of these approaches have their benefits, limiting the number of turns available to you means that speed is of the essence whilst having an unlimited amount of time mean you can make your victory more complete making each of campaign longer. Just like the games real-time strategy element, the turn-based component also introduces new multiplayer features allowing you to compete against human players. There’s very little to find fault with when it comes to the turn based element and I would go as far as to say it’s probably the strongest aspect. That’s not to say that the real-time strategy component should be overlooked as despite its flaws is still a worthwhile feature often allowing you to make a difference when the odds of an Auto-Resolve are stacked against you. The auto resolve feature also has a tendency to throw up the occasional surprise result when sometimes it seems victory is a certainty.

Graphics wise Napoleon: Total War, like past Total War games is at the top of its field especially during the real-time battles. Unit detail is extremely detailed especially naval units with the crew clearly visible on the decks of ships and sails and rigging that adjusts to reflect the movements of the ships. Also on land smoke can clearly be seen leaving cannons as they’re fired and bodies litter the field of battle for the duration of the conflict. The turn-based aspects graphics are quite different, and lack the same level of detail there still good to look at and the various maps give a detailed representation of the region your currently in. Different seasons are also reflected with snow covering the landscape during winter months. Despite not being as glitzy as those of the games battles, they are still good and serve the intended purpose.

Napoleon: Total War may have its flaws, but it offers the best of the strategy genre, giving you access to both turn based and real-time play that fit together seamlessly and will keep any armchair general firmly placed in the command seat.

Review Score: 8/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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