Medieval II: Total War
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|Medieval II: Total War|
|Developer(s)||The Creative Assembly|
|Composer(s)||Jeff van Dyck
Medieval II: Total War, the indirect sequel to 2002's Medieval: Total War and the fourth game in the Total War series from The Creative Assembly, is a game of turn-based strategic rounds and real-time tactically-oriented battles, released in November 2006. The game is set between the years 1080 and 1530. Like the original Medieval: Total War, it focuses on medieval warfare, religion and politics in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The time-frame stretches into the era of the discovery of the New World, and simulates the discovery and conquest of the Americas. Medieval II is built on the code base of Rome: Total War.
Similar to previous titles of the Total War series, the game consists of two modes of play: battles and single-player campaign. Battles can be played in multiplayer, in user-defined scenarios, or in historical scenarios which simulate real battles such as the Battle of Arsuf or the Battle of Agincourt. Battles are also featured in the campaign.
The campaign allows the player to assume control of a faction of the time period, and build a civilization, both economically and militarily in order to conquer other factions. Gameplay consists of controlling the faction's military, economic, and social systems in large campaign maps. During the player's turn, armies, fleets, and agents can be moved on the map. When an army engages another army, the player can choose to fight the battle personally in the battle mode, or automatically calculate the outcome.
The goal of the campaign depends on which type of campaign is played. The short campaign requires the player to defeat one or two enemy factions (for example, Holy Roman Empire must defeat its historical enemies Milan and Denmark) and control at least 15 settlements. The long campaign requires the player to control at least 45 territories and one or two significant cities, which are faction specific, such as Jerusalem, Granada, Rome or Constantinople.
Any nation conquered in the Grand Campaign will be unlocked as a playable faction, with the exception of the Papal States, Mongols, Timurids, Aztecs (only encountered in the New World, or in the late period) and Rebels. Completing the Grand Campaign on any difficulty level unlocks all factions as playable.
Each faction begins with a few (or a single) settlement(s), and must conquer others in order to continue growing. Unlike previous Total War titles, there are two kinds of settlements, each with different advantages and disadvantages: cities and castles. Castles have better defensive capabilities and have access to a larger selection of soldiers including cavalry, infantry, and missile troops most of which can only be obtained through castles, and for the most part are superior to city troops in terms of abilities, morale, and combat statistics. However, castles generate less income, cannot train as many agents as cities, and have no access to higher civilian technologies including, but not limited to, taverns, markets, and buildings related to law and health such as town halls, and the eastern Bimaristan. Cities generate much larger income and are technological centres of a faction, but are more difficult to defend and only have access to militia troops, which are generally inferior to those trained at castles except for a select few unique units. A small quantity of militia troops, stationed in the city where they have been trained, can have the benefit of no upkeep cost, that cost being a great burden on the economy of a faction throughout the game. Players may convert a settlement to a different type, although larger cities may not be converted into castles. The early castle upgrades don't have a need of population to be upgraded, all that is needed are florins (in-game currency).
As in other Total War games, in each settlement the faction may construct a number of buildings, each with different functions, such as training troops, upgrading weapons and armour, expanding the economy, increasing the settlement's defences or strengthening religion. A new feature of Medieval II is the ability to build guild halls. A given settlement may only have a single guild hall, although there are several different types. The guild hall provides certain bonuses such as increased movement for troops, better weapons, or better agents; some even grant access to new units, such as the ahistoric unit of "Sherwood Archers" available to England upon construction and subsequent upgrade of a Woodsmen's Guild. Guild halls may also be later upgraded to a "Master Guild Hall", which may provide a larger bonus or even grant a bonus to all of the faction's settlements while still retaining a more notable bonus in the city the structure is built, and then possibly upgraded to the "Guild Headquarters", which provides the greatest bonuses, although each guild can have only one headquarters anywhere in the world at the given time, and each faction can only construct one Master Guild Hall of each guild in their empire. It is possible however, to capture a city with an existing Master Guild Hall of a certain type, and have two of one kind.
Each faction has a ruling family. Once male family members come of age at 16, they act as units that can be used to govern settlements and lead armies in battle as generals. Each character has attributes that determine his prowess in both. A character's actions can affect his attributes - for example, a general who routinely kills prisoners of war and exterminates captured settlements may see his "dread" increase, making him frightening to foes; a general who prefers to release prisoners and occupy settlements may instead increase his "chivalry", which makes his own troops much more brave. Characters also develop (or regress) by gathering traits and retinue members. Characters can take after (or rebel against) their parents, traits like alcoholism are self-perpetuating, inbreeding tends to strengthen when inherited, naivete and paranoia are mutually exclusive but both detrimental, etc. Some traits, mostly positive, are brought out by victories in battle: for example, generals can become increasingly scarred as time goes on, giving them more hitpoints, and generals who successfully complete a Crusade gain chivalry, command, and piety points. Others accumulate while governing a city: poorly managed backwaters tend to bring out the worst in generals, whereas advanced, central cities improve a general's traits. Owners of strong traits earn epithets, such as "the Brave," "the Just," "the Lewd" or "the Corrupt." These are decorative. A very important aspect of generals is their loyalty. If a general is disloyal, he may rebel, turning into the 'Rebels' faction and taking a part of the army at his command with him. The faction leader has an 'authority' rating instead of loyalty. Higher authority makes disloyal generals less likely to rebel.
Captains are leaders of armies that do not have a family member controlling them. They don't have any special attributes or retinue, but if killed in battle troop morale decreases all the same, increasing the chance that the army will rout. If killed or assassinated, a new captain will instantly appear and take command of the army in question. If a captain is victorious in a particularly one sided battle or has shown excellent leadership, he may become 'Man of the Hour', and comes with an option to adopt him into the Royal Family. If adopted, he turns into a general and may gain attributes and retinue. If declined, he continues to be a generic captain. An army left with only a captain may rebel and join the rebel faction.
Each faction has a number of agents it may use to maintain order and influence other factions. The types of agent available are Priests and Imams, princesses, diplomats, merchants, assassins and spies. Priests and Imams will steadily convert a province to their faction's religion, causing or reducing religious unrest, and can denounce dangerous heretics and witches. Princesses and diplomats are able to negotiate with other factions, and princesses can attempt to marry a rival family member to gain his allegiance. Merchants can be stationed on resources on the map to generate income and can attempt to eliminate rival merchants through a takeover. Assassins can kill off characters, and sabotage buildings belonging to rival factions. Spies can infiltrate rival settlements and provide information about their buildings and garrisons. Each agent has attributes that develop the more he is able to successfully be used. Princesses, for example, have a "Charm" attribute that governs their success in diplomacy and the likelihood that a proposal in marriage will be accepted. Spies and Assassins have a "Subterfuge" attribute which governs how likely they are to infiltrate enemy cities or find information about enemy armies. All agents except princesses are trained at settlements which contain the appropriate buildings - for example, Christian priests can be trained in any settlement with a church or chapel. Princesses are born into the player's ruling family, and become active as agents once they come of age at 16.
Diplomacy functions much as in previous Total War games, mainly involving negotiating treaties such as cease fires, alliances and marriages and wars. The interface for negotiation has changed from previous games, however; a new system has been integrated to show the other faction's attitude toward the player's faction, intelligence estimates (such as how wealthy the faction is and what other factions they are at war with), as well as how fair the other faction feels the player's proposals are.
Inquisitors are controlled by The Papal States and are sent to the player's lands if you have fallen out of favour with the Pope (though not necessarily excommunicated). They can accuse any agent of heresy, and if they are found guilty, they will be executed. Generals, and even a player's King, may fall prey to these agents of God. To get rid of Inquisitors, you can gain favour with the Pope by building churches and converting the population, and avoid attacks on any more favourable Christian nations, or perhaps even attempt to assassinate them.
Medieval II is a turn-based game, in Medieval II:Total War each turn represents 6 months; the seasons will change each turn (winter and summer). A side effect of this system is that there are inconsistencies. For example, due to the movement system, when discovering America, it takes about 8-10 turns (i.e., 4-5 years because each turn represents 6 months) to get to America from western Europe; Christopher Columbus took about a month to make each of his first two voyages.
There are twenty-one factions, of which seventeen are playable in the Campaign game, although only five are playable in the beginning: The Kingdoms of England, France and Spain; the Holy Roman Empire as well as the Republic of Venice. The other factions may be unlocked one at a time, as soon as the player has defeated that faction in the campaign by conquering all their settlements including occupied temporary forts or by killing off the entire royal family of that faction, regardless of whether the player wins the entire campaign or not. The unlockable factions may be unlocked all at once by winning the short or long campaign as one of the five initially available factions, and include Portugal, Scotland, the Moors, Egypt, the Turks, the Byzantine Empire, the Kingdom of Sicily, Duchy of Milan, Denmark, Novgorodian Russians, Poland, and Hungary. The only factions that cannot be played are the Papal States, the Mongols, the rebels, the Aztecs, and the Timurids.
Each faction has at least one "trademark" unit, although they are not always limited to that specific faction (e.g. the Portuguese "Jinets"). One of these units from each faction is listed in the game as the faction's "special unit".
The factions in the game represent, with varying accuracy, their real-life historical factions. The army unit types available to each faction are modelled to reflect their real-life histories, with each faction possessing unique characteristics that afford them certain strengths and weaknesses against other factions in combat.
There are various simplifications in the game to make factions more identifiable. For example, Russia did not exist as a state at the time but was divided into Fiefdoms, Principalities and states, with Kievan Rus' and then the Republic of Novgorod chronologically being the most prominent states. Unified Spain didn't exist until the end of the game's timeline, but was divided into the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon, with the Spanish faction representing the former in the game. Portugal didn't become an actual kingdom until 1139 and King Afonso Henriques is born 30 years before he was historically known. A number of other smaller nations and kingdoms are also nonexistent in the game, such as the Republic of Genoa.
One of the main focuses on the Total War franchise is its incorporation of battle within the greater sphere of gameplay. A battle consists of two or more factions' armies fighting each other. Battles play similar to those in Rome: Total War, with formations of various kinds of troops fighting. The objective of the battle is to defeat the enemy army by completely destroying it or causing the whole army to flee; in a siege battle, the objective is to completely destroy the army or to take control of a plaza in the centre of the settlement. There is also an option which allows the player to allow for time limits on battles, meaning that the attacker must defeat the defender within a certain time limit (determined by the computer) or the battle results in a victory for the defender.
Unlike in previous Total War titles, a new system of modelling troops on the battlefield has been introduced. Each soldier has a varying number of elements to him, such as arms, legs, body armour, shield heraldry, and so forth; each element has a varying number of styles. When a battle is entered, the computer randomly selects elements for each soldier in the unit, thereby making each soldier look different from the soldiers around him. This can lead to some errors though, for example a general's bodyguard of the Holy Roman Empire can be portrayed with a shield with an English or Byzantine twist upon it. Upgrades to a unit's armour are also depicted - a unit of unarmored spearmen upgraded to have leather armour will be depicted wearing it. Another departure from earlier Total War games is that combat is depicted more realistically, with soldiers performing motion-captured attacks - rather than one or two standard attacks - utilising their shields, parrying blows and delivering killing strikes to downed foes, all based on the weapon they are using and the weapon of their opponent. Blood can also be seen on the uniforms of soldiers who have been fighting and a mist of blood will be visible on soldiers hit by arrows. The amount of detail in the fight sequences can be turned up or down along with the other video options in the main menu. A player can also have up to 4800 (huge units option) troops in their army.
Each faction follows one of three official and organized religions: Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, or Islam. Every province can have followers of each religion, as well as pagans and hereticals. Religious unrest may occur if the most prominent religion of a province does not match the faction ruling it, leading to reduced public order. To reduce this, players can use the aforementioned Priests and Imams, as well as build religious buildings in the province's city, in order to steadily convert the population.
Catholic factions answer to the Pope, who will often give the player missions to build churches, convert people, or cease hostilities against other Catholic factions. Failure to complete these missions will reduce the player's standing with the Pope, and may lead to excommunication from the Catholic Church, giving other Catholic factions free rein to invade. Conversely, the player can wage war against excommunicated factions without having to worry about the Pope intervening.
Any priest from a Catholic faction has a chance of becoming Pope, if they are accepted into the college of cardinals and then made one of the Preferati. When the incumbent Pope dies, the college of cardinals will elect a new Pope from the Preferati, with each cardinal having one vote; factions with multiple cardinals will therefore have much more influence on the election. The new Pope will leave their original faction and become the faction leader of the Papal States. Popes, upon being elected into office, will generally think highly of factions who supported them.
The Pope can also call Crusades against certain settlements, typically those of factions that have fallen out of favour with him, or settlements in the Holy Land, such as Antioch or Jerusalem. Any Catholic faction can join a Crusade by creating an army of at least eight units, including a general, and making it a Crusade army. The Islamic equivalents are Jihads, which can be called by players every few turns, as long as they have an Imam with sufficient Piety. Crusade and Jihad armies can move greater distances per turn than regular armies, do not require upkeep, and can recruit special mercenary units. However, units will desert the army if they feel it is not making sufficient progress towards the target city.
Medieval II: Total War was highly acclaimed by critics.
The exclusive review was given to PC Gamer (US), which awarded it an "Editor's Choice" 90%. In its December 2006 issue, PC Gamer (UK) reviewed the game, hailing it as the "new king of war games". The graphics and depth of gameplay were highly praised and the game received a score of 94%. IGN gave the game 8.8/10, saying that the game was not as revolutionary as its predecessor, but still introduces some new ideas and builds on others from Rome: Total War, which would still be enough for anybody to buy it. GameSpot also rated the game 8.8/10, noting its "epic, engrossing gameplay" whilst criticising its "beefy system requirements". The Australian magazine PC PowerPlay gave the game a rarely awarded perfect score of 10/10 due to the sheer amount of content the game contained and the next generation graphics. Hyper's Anthony Fordham commends the game for its "incredible gameplay, both in battle and on the world map". However, he criticised it for being "more a refinement of the series than a huge leap forward".
Swedish historian and member of the Swedish Academy Peter Englund reviewed the game for Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter where he made comparisons to traditional battle depicitions such as old copper engravings and paintings, and the more recent film medium. In the review, Englund concluded that Medieval II represents a form of battle depiction amazingly similar to an engraving from the 1600s. Edge ranked the game #26 on its list of "The 100 Best Games To Play Today", calling it "as complete a depiction of war as there has been in a videogame".
The Creative Assembly developers stated on 1 December 2006 that they were working on a patch to solve reported bugs, specifically mentioning a major bug in how the game handles cavalry charges (the cavalry doesn't always use its lances when charging); the patch was released on 15 December 2006. A second patch was also released on 4 May 2007 solving many other problems not addressed in the first patch, though many of the pathfinding bugs in siege battles still remain.
An expansion, Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms, was announced on 30 March 2007 and released on 28 August 2007 in the US, 31 August in the UK, and 7 September in Australia. It adds four new campaigns to the game:
- Americas Campaign - 7 playable factions (New Spain, The Aztecs, Mayans, Apachean Tribes, Chichimeca, Tlaxcalans and Tarascans) on a map of the New World from Honduras to Texas.
- Britannia Campaign - 5 playable factions (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Norway) on a map of the British Isles.
- Crusades Campaign - 5 playable factions (Kingdom of Jerusalem, Principality of Antioch, Egypt, Turks, Byzantium) on a map of Egypt, the Levant and Anatolia.
- Teutonic Campaign - 4 playable factions (Teutonic Order, Lithuania, Denmark, Novgorod), and 2 unlockable (Poland and the Holy Roman Empire) on a map of northeastern Europe from eastern Germany to Russia.
In each of the campaigns, a small part of the world map is taken (e.g. the British Isles) and enlarged, with many settlements added to it. Whereas Britain in the main game has a total of 3 castles and 4 cities, the Britannia Campaign contains many more.
- "Medieval II: Total War (pc: 2006)". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
- Steve Butts (10 November 2006). "IGN: Medieval II: Total War Review". IGN. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
- Jason Ocampo (14 November 2006). "Medieval II: Total War Review for PC - GameSpot". GameSpot. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
- Fordham, Andrew. "Medieval II: Total War". Hyper (Next Media) (159): 54, 55. ISSN 1320-7458.
- Englund, Peter (24 November 2006). "Medieval II: Total War". Dagens Nyheter. "(...)see something that is amazingly similar to an engraving from the 1600s. With the difference that this is mobile, in color and allow to control."
- Edge Staff (2009-03-09). "The 100 Best Games To Play Today". Edge Online. Retrieved 2014-01-21.
- Sean Molloy (14 November 2006). "Medieval 2: Total War Review from 1UP.com". 1UP.com. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
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- SEGA's Total War blog