#915 Empire: Total War

Posted: 16th November 2021 by Jeroen in Games
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1019th played so far

Genre: Strategy
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: Sega

Even without the blog, I’ve been getting invested in the Total War franchise. I’ve played the Warhammer variants quite a bit and relatively recently got into Total War: Three Kingdoms, set (I believe) in the Suikoden era of Chinese history. For the blog, I’ve enjoyed both the entries in Rome and Medieval times, although I’ll admit that’s more on the grand strategy scale than the individual battles that I never quite got used to.

Considering the size of the genre and, well, that I’ve played a bunch of other big games, I’ve been ready to enjoy the last game in the franchise. As I’m near the end of the list, I’ve also saved two of my favourite genres until the end so I can dedicate enough time to it. Today, it’s the final strategy game. In three days you’ll read about my final RPG – although in reality I’m playing them a week apart so I’ve got enough time I can dedicate to both of them.


As I said, I enjoy strategy games a whole lot and I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting old favourites like the Civilization series and the original Starcraft. Beyond that, though, I’ve found so many more games in the genre – whether it’s the village building of Anno 1701, the alien invasions of X-Com or the strangeness of Pikmin, it’s rare that it didn’t hit me. Sometimes the age didn’t hit me quite as well, and the conversion to consoles like you get with something like Battalion Wars doesn’t always do it for me, but right now I just have a lot more in the genre to play.

Our Thoughts

I probably don’t need to explain it with the name, but Empire: Total War is set during the empire building era of European history, where its various powers are taking land in the Americas, Asia and work to become global empires.  It works, in part, with the set up I know from the other games – the high level overview where you can take part in smaller battles if you want. It’s the usual thing with a different skin, but it’s a formula that works and does enough to tell the different stories you can find in this world.

Before getting into the large world, though, it’s worth talking about the scenarios and story mode it sets. Rather than having to deal with the entire world, you can start off as a more historically accurate John Smith, establishing English colonies in New England and slowly growing them – fighting against and working with the natives, as well as driving out the French.

Listen – it’s hard to deny that this is what happened at the time. It’s not a good thing that happened, but it’s part of the history this game is trying to emulate.  At least they have a fighting chance, but it’s undeniable that the imperial ambitions of the nations at this time feel awkward now. I’ll get back to this, but let’s stick with the game.

The nice thing about the story mode is how it slowly grows. You can race ahead in mechanics – these aren’t blocked for you- but you deal with a small map at the time and it slowly expands. Your goals grow with it too and the game leads you through building your colony, growing a navy and dealing with diplomatic relationships step by step. It’s pretty neat and works really well to get to know the game’s systems.

After a while I moved to the ‘proper’ game, which is closer to the standard modes of other games – a full world map and a goal to capture certain areas by a deadline. Most empires in this mode are more spread out than in other games – playing as the Dutch, as a medium difficulty option – has colonies in parts of the Caribbean and South America as well as on Sri Lanka, as would have been the case at the time. From that point you battle to gain control of more of the map, often spread out, and your navy is a lot more important in the game – the naval battles are a nice addition to the series.

The different areas are connected solely by naval lanes, creating several parts of the world to manage, but with limits so you can zip everything everywhere. It’s a nice way of doing it, especially as usually only parts of the world mattered in this era. It is also its downside: the game is getting you to spread out between so many areas that it gets a bit much, and with a single gold total, it’s really hard to focus on getting everything in order. It’s exciting once it goes well, but there were moments where it was a bit much for me.

Final Thoughts

In then end, I enjoyed playing Empire: Total War enough to put this on the right side, but it’s not my favourite. In part it’s the scope, with the various areas often being a bit too much to handle. Then after that there are the major issues with empire building as happened during these times. The other games have historical issues, but the way you’re forced to be on the side of the empires in this feels a bit wrong. I don’t think this is the game in the series I’m most likely to get back to – but then again, with the third Warhammer installment coming soon with the announced three game map, I’m not sure I need to!