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Medieval II: Total War Review

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Another great installment of the Total War franchise.

★★★★★

Following in the wake of its illustrious, million-selling predecessors, the chances of Medieval II cocking it up the Total War franchise are slimmer than Dita Von Teese’s waist. But even though strategy gamers are already well-versed in this stellar series’ complex ways, this latest instalment is still an incredible achievement.

In terms of presentation, Medieval II is the best-looking Total War to date; whereas the legions of clashing soldiers looked almost identical in earlier editions, randomised body parts and weapons ensure that individual fighters appear distinctive and the skirmishes look thrillingly convincing. Improved motion-capture animation and weather effects also help make the epic battles more fun to watch, putting you at the heart of every battle and bringing your epic strategies to life.

But improved visuals are nothing without enhanced gameplay, and the developers have wasted no opportunity to hone the experience. The intelligence of rival commanders has been tweaked, with computer-controlled armies using complex strategies such as flanking to scupper your troops and refusing to rush headlong into battle without considering less dangerous strategies. The inclusion of impassable terrain also allows players to use the natural defences of the landscape to change the course of a battle, and the role of diplomacy has also been updated, with other nations reacting in more unpredictable ways to your unreasonable demands.

And if you need any more convincing to buy Medieval II immediately, the chance to wage war in the New World and crush the Aztecs also makes the game a joy to play, while pre-battle speeches, reinstated assassination videos and a greater role for special units such as priests and merchants also help round out this sublime package.

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