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Napoleon: Total War - PC Video Game

Since 2000 and the publication of Shogun, the famous series Total War continues to meet the expectations of fans of history games, strategy games and war games alike. Six games later, the concept has remained the same: to allow the player to act both strategically (turn-based), and tactical (in real time). A combination of two tables that the team of The Creative Assembly has done well, unlike other titles. Ten years after its debut, the adventure continued in early 2010 with the release of a new episode, Napoleon: Total War.

A refined strategy game

It is clear that the game engine achieves a considerable degree of refinement. Already, at the strategic level: where the player Shogun Total War was content to move pawns from province to province on an abstract map, that of Napoleon Total War moves its armies to any point in a province, on a 3D representation of the terrain. This management of the operational level is not new, but it takes on a particular flavor in the context of the wars of the Revolution and the Empire, where the maneuver of armies in the field was one of Napoleon I's best weapons.

This immersion is further reinforced by the possibility for several armies to support each other if they are close enough - thus making it possible to march separately to strike together - or by the new chronological scale. Each strategic game turn is equivalent to two weeks; change necessitated by campaigns of only a few years (where those of previous opuses lasting decades, even centuries), but which turns out perfectly adapted. Still in the perspective of allowing more lively military campaigns, we can now demand the surrender of weakly defended towns without having to besiege them. Thus, several provinces can be conquered in a single turn ... up to the winner to defend them afterwards!

The downside is the training time for units that may have become a bit short compared to reality, but this is neither crippling nor flagrant and overall, the pleasure of strategic management remains. It is even reinforced because, in the tradition of Empire Total War, it has gained in finesse without losing ease. Gone are the “big bill” strategies of constructing as many buildings as possible in each province, and stacking military units to saturation point. Each city has only a limited number of building spaces, and you will need to choose carefully which buildings to construct. Likewise, the income will not be inexhaustible, and recruiting too many troops could get you in trouble very quickly, especially since the populations of the conquered regions will tend to be agitated quickly if they are too squeezed.

Battles that keep their promises

Refinement is also the word that characterizes tactical battles. We will not insist on the graphic quality, fully configurable according to the computer of each one, and for which The Creative Assembly has nothing more to prove: the details of the uniforms and the faces of each soldier are there to demonstrate it. If it is easier to command the army seen from above, we can just as easily zoom to direct it at ground level, in the heart of the action: it is there, without an overview on the battle in progress, that we realize how difficult the exercise is! This is not recommended against AI, which does not have those kinds of contingencies, but the experience must be fun to try in multiplayer mode. Here, the game takes a step in the right direction, as an "impromptu battle" option allows a friend to take command of the opposing army during a battle fought in a single player campaign. Only graphical downside for my taste (but maybe that's because I didn't set up the graphics correctly), the battlefields are singularly lacking in ... smoke.

Of course, land battles are fought with a certain degree of abstraction than regulars in the series Total War know it well, but that might confuse purists. For obvious reasons related to the game engine, it is not possible to simulate the armies of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of fighters, characteristic of the Napoleonic wars as they are. In fact, you will not have more than a few thousand (which is already not bad, considering the degree of graphic realism obtained in return!). This may seem a little anemic at first glance, so it is strongly recommended to choose the "ultra" option for the size of the units, even if it means reducing the quality of the other graphics options on older machines.

In this configuration, with batteries of four guns, battalions of 180 soldiers, and cavalry squadrons of 60 blades, it already has more "mouth", as they say. Nothing to say about the diversity of the units available: there is a wide range, different for each nation, and whose appearance varies with the time (the lignard of 1796 in Italy does not have the same uniform as that of 1798 in Egypt). Each has its own tactical use: the dragons will be able to dismount to use their rifles, the hunters on foot will disperse in skirmishers ...

Simplicity and realism: the ideal compromise?

All this in the respect of the principles of simplicity having presided over the previous opus. The battle interface remains easy to use and intuitive, with a reduced number of options that will allow even players with no knowledge of the tactics of the time to immerse themselves in the game. We may regret some lacks, such as, for example, the impossibility of making the infantry carry out real bursts of fire, or of capturing enemy guns to turn them against him; nothing, however, that cannot be fixed by a subsequent patch or expansion - little work for a certain enrichment of the enjoyment of the game.

In the end, the tactical simulation is excellent. Artillery efficiency is well captured: weak at long range (unless it is used in numbers and concentrated fire), it becomes devastating at close range, when firing grape. Regarding the cavalry, we will happily employ the tactics of the time: charge, withdrawal, new charge, and so on until the enemy gives way. At the most, we can regret that the infantry tended to use too much fire to the detriment of shock, contrary to what was then practiced. Another small downside, the difference between the killed and the injured is no longer taken into account, although it was in Medieval II Total War.

Having little tested naval battles, I can't say enough about it, except that the graphics are obviously beautiful. Their interface is simple (we will appreciate the possibility of firing in bursts) and here again, the realism is there, with the possibility of approaching the opponent to capture him, or the choice between different ammunition to sink him, dismasting, or decimating his crew. On the other hand, it seems that the management of the wind, a priori present in Empire Total War, has disappeared. This is understandable, moreover, because while they are easy to manage as long as you only have one ship, the naval battles of Napoleon Total War tend to be greatly complicated when you have more.

An appreciable lifespan

The game offers a fairly wide choice of campaigns. The main one puts you in the place of Napoleon Bonaparte himself - so you play France. After a tutorial focusing on the early years of the future emperor, the Italian campaign of 1796-97 is an excellent appetizer, while that of Egypt provides a better understanding of the full range of strategic options. This is not too much to prepare for the main campaign, which takes place all over Europe from 1805 to 1812. The adventure then ends (if however you have not submitted Europe in the meantime!) As the Napoleonic epic, with a last standstill at Waterloo.

The French campaigns are punctuated by cutscenes which are not always very realistic (Bonaparte thus swaps his revolutionary general uniform for the gray frock coat and the hat of Napoleon from the Italian campaign), but for the rest, the historical framework is respected, through game events forcing the player to adapt his strategy to the unfolding of the story in order to face it. Thus, the establishment of "sister republics" in Italy will allow it to secure its rear, while the revolt in Lower Egypt will force it to protect them.

The other playable factions (England, Austria, Prussia, Russia) only have access to the 1805-1812 campaign. However, several other nations are accessible in multiplayer, as well as in ad hoc battles. These are also playable in a linear fashion, one after the other, and bring together the main engagements of the Napoleonic period, from the Lodi Bridge to Waterloo. In short, a game with a considerable lifespan. In the end, the biggest drawback of the game remains the need, in order to play it, to have an Internet connection in order to register on the online gaming platform. Steam to be able to install and play it. Times change and the video game market does change, but it is unfortunate that you can't launch the game if, for some reason, you can't connect to Steam !

A mature series

Ultimately, apart from the small defects (quite minor for the most part, it must be admitted) mentioned above, Napoleon: Total War turns out to be an excellent game. While it may not be the best in the series (very subjective assessment, which depends on the period covered and the tastes of each player), it is very probably the most successful, both technically and historically, or even in terms of gameplay. We can only recommend it to its target audience, as described in the introductory paragraph of this review: fans of strategy, history, and war games. Everyone will find at least one reason for satisfaction there and few, in my opinion, will regret their purchase.

When it was released last year, Empire Total War had suffered criticism, including on the degree of finish of the game, considered very insufficient. Napoleon Total War is the response of The Creative Assembly : with this component, the game engine of Total War has come of age. The combat engine in particular now handles both fire and shock, allowing it, with only minor adjustments, to simulate battles from any era up to the 19th century - the Thirty Years' War or the Secession, for example. Yes, dear readers, dear distributor of the series (Sega) and dear studio (The Creative Assembly), this is a wake-up call, as the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War will be commemorated in one year. Faced with a US market still fond of products linked to "its" civil war, the game engine Total War would be ripe, as it stands, to reproduce this conflict - much to the delight of millions of fans around the world, including me. So when will a Secession: Total War ?

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Video: HUGE EPIC BATTLE OF WATERLOO - Napoleonic: Total War 3 Napoleons Eagles (September 2021).