Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Medieval- Total War

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chris-littlechild - September 24, 2014

As 80‘s New Wave shit-tacular Tears for Fears once sang, Everybody Wants to Rule the World. What ‘everybody' forgets, though, is what a pain in the ass that would actually be. All paperwork, board meetings and huge fancy-ass lunches on expenses. Who the hell has time for that?

Fear not though, gentlemen. There's a non-tedious (if slightly historical, but don't worry about learning anything) way to work off your megalomaniacal tendencies. Namely The Creative Assembly's Total War series.

These PC strategy games have a fourteen year legacy of timesink-y ye olde warfare. 2000‘s Shogun: Total War introduced the concept, seeing you choosing a faction from Japan's Sengoku period and leading them to domination. For the sequel, we went even further back.

Yes indeed. Here we are in the world of big eff off castles and knights with spangly steel codpieces. Of hairy-assed Vikings with their questionable sense of beard fashion. Of Medieval: Total War.

Dramatic times with some blue dudes in Britain.

As Professor Norton Nerdly-Ass once wrote, " the Middle Ages (5th to 15th Century, give or take), everyone was pretty damn pissed at everyone else." His history-jargon aside, it was a turbulant time, and one rife for the Total War treatment. So, it's the same deal: choose a kingdom to play as, from the French to the English to the Holy Roman Empire, and storm across the campaign map.

The game is presented in two halves. On the campaign screen, you do your everyday manouvering. Selecting what to build in each of your towns and cities, sending messengers and spies to neighbouring kingdoms and training up your armies. When your forces meet another army, you're transported to the dynamic battle map.

The sequel, Medieval II, was much sexier.

On this fancy 3D battlefield (well, piss-poor-but-fancy-for-2000), the shit hits the fan. You have an aerial view, and direct control over your units in a realtime battle. Turns out, old school warfare is a ball-bustingly complex business. You must position spearmen to counter cavalry charges, take care to wheel your horsemen around to attack exposed flanks, position your general where he'll bolster your mens' morale without endangering himself, and ensure your archers are positioned on higher ground to boost their range.

Sometimes, all at once, until your brain leaks from your ears in a steaming puddle of confusion and sadness. That's just the way things are done in Total War.

Medieval: Total War was critically acclaimed on release, and was a huge effing deal for the strategy genre. Do you want to stealthily assassinate enemy leaders and bribe your foes away, building an empire of sneaky bastardry? Or would you rather charge in and plant an iron jackboot of military might into the world's gonads? The choice is yours.

Whichever approach you take, a Total War campaign is the kind of just-one-more-turn affair that'll leave you wondering how it's suddenly 5am and you eyeballs are bleeding. Retro/strategy heads, get on it. Right now.

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