They say the sun never set on the British Empire
They say God is on the side with the best artillery
I say “See that army over there? I don’t want to.” And a moment later I don’t.
That’s the beauty of Empire Total War, I can, at my leisure, shell the enemy in a gratuitous display of extravagant ordnance until they realise that they won’t make it to my lines and run away. Now those of you who have played the game are no doubt thinking “Oh he’s an ottoman or Prussian player.” Well, you couldn’t be further from the truth, I, as I do in all these games, play as the great island nation of Britannia. Many a battle has been fought while blasting “Rule Britannia” at full gusto and sending waves of his majesties finest against French, pirates and even native Americans.
It’s the standard Total War Formula The Creative Assembly has been refining over the years, one part world, one part freedom, two parts far too many well-defended cities for my liking. All the same, it’s another solid iteration of an ever-improving series. Empire provides one of my favourite settings in a Total War game, the colonial period gives you a chance to invade the new world rather than simply landing in France and going straight for Paris as England is usually forced to do.
There’s something oddly enjoyable to marching ranks of men at the enemy and hoping your formation, plan and luck are enough to carry the day. With no real armour, your troops only defence is the enemy’s inaccuracy which is fortunately frequent. One is found more often than not sending regiments of the best redcoats against the militia. While this can obviously come across as unsatisfying, the real battles where one is arrayed against an equal or even superior force is where Empire Total War shines. When you have to carefully consider the arrangement of troops, cannon and cavalry, weighing up the benefits of a well-guarded flank against a centre spear tip, considering the various possible roles of what little cavalry you may have and how best to use them.
I’ll admit that I’m guilty of the occasional call to simply “fix bayonets” and send infantry charging straight towards in desperation to simply speed things up. It’s the one aspect of the Empire Total War battles that I dislike. A single rank of infantry firing into another single rank does so little damage that battles can drag on and on if the armies are both large enough.
If you haven’t played a Total War game before then I’d suggest Rome as a starting point, or perhaps Medieval II but if neither of those periods suits you or if you’d prefer a more polished title than the earlier iterations than by all means start with Empire. The thing is, it’s not super forgiving, there’s a lot of intricoes to not only battle but the wider campaign that the game does a poor job of explaining. Nonetheless, once you have the hang of it you’ll no doubt have no trouble conquering the new world, giving the French a damn good thrashing and slaughtering some natives in the name of the greatest nation on earth.