We sit down for a one-on-one with the developers.
Itâ€™s not every day that the NZGamer.com site manager rings you up and informs you that you have three hours to make a flight to Auckland. For a sedentary gamer like me, that alone is an exciting time. But flying up to score an exclusive video interview about Creative Assemblyâ€™s new Napoleon: Total War is bed-wettingly exciting. I could hardly contain my gaming glee. Iâ€™m convinced the man in the plane seat next to me thought I was mad.
So, it was with my heart in my throat that I took the trip up to see the good folks at SEGA NZâ€™s offices in Aucklandâ€™s North Shore, where I interviewed Kieran Brigden, the communication manager for Creative Assembly, the British developers behind the Total War Series.
To my great surprise I was also given the opportunity to sit down and play one of the historical battles on offer in the new title. Unfortunately, Iâ€™m not allowed to divulge much information (the version I played was in pre-alpha stage, so there was obviously things that were not quite ready) but I can say that even at this point in the titleâ€™s development, the game is looking and playing brilliantly. Those looking for a fresh challenge after Medieval 2 and Empire will definitely find it here. The real-time battles are more tactical, more challenging and tap right into the strategic fun weâ€™ve come to expect from the Total War Series.
The addition of new general abilities is innovative and acts as a real game changer. You can be sure that they will have an important effect on the success of your armies' quest for European glory. Just be prepared to pause often, because the intricacy of Napoleon is going to require much more micromanaging. Battles can no longer be won by charging your horses into the enemy generalâ€™s stock troops, a change that will be readily welcomed by those looking for an extra dose of realism.
After unintentionally murdering Napoleon himself by charging his unit into a line of musket men, Brigden gently revealed to me that the days of the General â€˜super-unitâ€™ are over. I just had to learn that the hard way, didnâ€™t I.
The action was so engrossing, I wanted to keep playing all night, but I had a job to do. So after Iâ€™d wiped the drool off the keyboard, breathed into a brown paper bag for a minute or two and had a sit down, we were able to get into the good stuff â€“ picking Kieran Brigdenâ€™s brain in an attempt to get him to divulge all of Creative Assemblyâ€™s Napoleon: Total War secrets.
However, I have a quick confession to make. When it comes to the Total War Series, Iâ€™m a bit of a fanboy. Itâ€™s not every day you get an interview with someone who has been intimately involved in the conception, development and testing of Creative Assemblyâ€™s latest offering, so those with a small data cap be warned â€“ the total interview is over 40 minutes. But donâ€™t be disheartened, weâ€™ve broken the interview up into thematic bite sized clips so you can choose to hear questions asked about particular areas of the game. But if you are a true Total War buff (like me) then be sure to watch them all. There are lots of goodies inside.
This clip includes questions about the storyline and historical context of Napoleon: Total War. The discussion surveys Napoleon himself and some of the other characters we might expect to see in the game.
The Campaign Map
The blend of real time tactical battles and turn based strategy has been an iconic feature of the Total War series ever since Shogun. The clip exposes some of the changes to the campaign map â€“ such as a shorter turn period, attrition damage to moving armies, innovations with the technology tree and finally how the socio-political changes of the time (such as the rise of French republicanism and the waning power of the Catholic Church) might affect diplomacy and the campaign map.
The Battle Map
Massive, gratuitous and realistic battles are the hallmark of the Total War Series. Napoleon: Total War does not disappoint. In this segment the new addition of special general abilities is explained as are the environmental effects caused by cannon fire and weather. Napoleon: Total War is also going to have a much higher degree of individualised graphics. Here, Brigden explains how this will be represented in battles, as well as shedding some light on the inclusion of a customisable unit editor. Naval conflicts have been reworked, and in this clip is an explanation of some of the new additions to battles fought on the high seas.
The AI System and some Unit Teasers
Significant work has been done on the AI system, and it has been redeveloped from what we saw in Empire. Brigden also spills the beans on some of the units that you can get your hands on in the game, including the bizarrely named (but incredibly powerful) Russian â€˜Unicornâ€™ Gun.
The Modification Community and Downloadable Content
Modding is a huge part of the Total War community. In this clip, some new ways that modification support will be included in Napoleon are touched on. Brigden was tight lipped on what DLC there might be, but indicated that we should definitely watch this space.
The Curve Balls â€“ What did you want to include but couldnâ€™t? and Whatâ€™s next for the Total War Series?
Brigden reveals some of the new additions and ideas that Total War Fans might expect to see in the future. He also clears up some multiplayer myths. This segment has a brief discussion about how the total war doctrine could be incorporated into future titles â€“ because thereâ€™s only so much history to get through!
One of Napoleonâ€™s most exciting multiplayer rumours centers around the ability for players to open up single player battles to real multiplayer opponents. This clip delves into how this new mode will work, and also what other multiplayer options we can expect to see in the finished game â€“ including what achievements are on offer.
So, there you have it. Thatâ€™s the exclusive video lowdown on what we can expect to see from Napoleon Total War. Those of you itching to get your hands on even a small slice of Napoleon pie will be glad to know that the multiplayer beta will soon be out. Even if you miss out on that limited opportunity, the wait is not that long. Development is on schedule and we can expect to see Napoleon: Total War hit Kiwi shelves on the 2nd of February 2010. Keep it locked to NZGamer.com, where we will strive to bring you all the latest updates on Napoleon: Total War as they become available.