Medieval II: Total War

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(prices updated 9/25 2:32 AM )

Description official descriptions

This game takes place during the Middle Ages starting in the year 1080. There are 17 different cultures in the known world. The player's goal is to bring the culture of their choice to world domination in the course of 500 years - through the High Middle Ages through the Late Middle Ages until the Renaissance, complete with the exploration of America.

Like Rome: Total War, players manage their cities and move their units around on a world map in a turn-based mode to conquer new cities or defeat enemies threatening their land. Players always need to watch after their people, in order to avoid them getting angry with their rulers and starting a revolution. Players also need to fulfill goals set by their religious leader, such as going on a crusade for the Pope.

When a battle starts and the player chooses not to have the AI calculate the outcome, the game switches to a full 3D battlefield where he must command his units as squads in real-time on the battlefield. There players need to use tactics like sending the cavalry into the nearby woods for a surprise attack at the enemies' flanks and making use of the overall terrain, like high ground, which are good for bowmen to overcome the enemy. Players will also have to conquer enemy castles, or successfully defend their own.

For players who have mastered the single-player campaign, up to 8 players can go head to head in multiplayer matches.

Spellings

  • 全軍破敵Ⅱ - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

282 People (254 developers, 28 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 86% (based on 32 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 33 ratings with 3 reviews)

Major Downgrade from MTW

The Good
Well, for one thing, the introduction of Castles (and their upgrades) gives you places that seldom go nuts and rebel. (All of the games in the Total War series act like every city is seething with democratic elements, just aching to be free of monarchical rule. Hah. Read some history books. Rebels carving off their own enclaves were never so prominent, except in China.) Your penalty for settled rule of provinces with castles is less income.

The Diplomacy system LOOKS like a great new feature. You have more options for holding dialogue with other factions. Unfortunately, they don't care (see below).

The Papacy: I spent a campaign as a dutiful French Catholic. I joined crusades, talked nice to Papal couriers, didn't invade my neighbors. I soon learned that responding to an invasion of my kingdom by my neighbor earned me excommunication threats. (To be fair, the aggressor apparently was warned too.) I learned how to calibrate my response to eventually destroy the aggressor before the Pope could call a halt. When I grew very big, I learned I could stack the College of Cardinals and I could even wipe out the Papal States. I played my second campaign as a Russian and did what I wanted. So much nicer!

Learn this: Trade beats Farming. there, you've just learned how to make the most money.

I guess, grudgingly, I can list prettier battles than in MTW, due to the full 3-D treatment. But they screwed up things that were working in Rome: Total War, where they also had 3-D. (see below).

I'll give a thumbs-up for fortresses and citadels. These improved castles have layered fortifications. If you bang a hole in the outer wall, you'd better still have ammo for the inner one, or an intact ram to deal with the gates, or you're going home unsatisfied.

I will echo the other reviewer's comments about it being tough to manage a fight in the forest, but to me, this is reasonable and historical. There is no way to see everything going on under the boughs... and you shouldn't be able to. You takes yer chances in forests! Deal with it.

And I like shooting cow carcasses from trebuchets. A lot. This biowarfare sickens units near the impact and units that walk through the area of effect. (Funny, it never sickens the firing unit to have dead cattle handy as ammo.) Great fun when you're defending a mountain with only a single approach lane. Until you pursue your beaten enemy past the carcasses.

The Bad
My biggest gripe is that they took the 3-D combat of Rome: Total War, and broke it. Now, I don't mind too much that there is now a delay in getting units to follow a change of orders; asking a maneuver unit to change direction on a dime and give you change is asking for control commanders don't have even today. And I don't mind unduly that formations get messed up in pursuits, as another reviewer did; after all, if you are directed to capture fleeing enemy soldiers, who are throwing away weapons and running for their lives, you won't catch them by keeping your shield locked with the guy on your right. So what went south? A lot!

You always, in Total War games, fiddle constantly with your formations. I've always liked that I can change frontage and depth of units. This is real important, for instance, when the rulebook advises you that archers can only fire from the front two ranks, as Rome:Total War did. But in MTWII, your precious alignments disintegrate when you try to move a group of units anything other than straight forward. Not only will the units move at their own rates and arrive at different times, but often the AI shuffles their order, their facing, and their frontage. Wheel an army 90 degrees? You're asking units to interpenetrate as they swap positions along the line. (And when you check the planned final alignment you often see your artillery plan to stop in the front rank of the enemy.) Coordinated movements worked before, in other Total War games! Why did they break it here? And the problem was never patched! This problem alone robs 3-D combat of much of the fun.

What's with battle experience? If your unit killed its own weight in enemy and rounded up as many in prisoners, it will probably get an experience level. But if it had a tough fight, stood its ground, lost half its men and routed the enemy, it may easily not. And sometimes, units that took and inflicted no casualties get experience. I guess they just "saw the elephant."

Why do your missile units wait until in range of the enemy to load their first shot? If the enemy keeps marching and your missilemen have skirmish orders, they often start evading before firing a shot. When the AI immediately charges them with cavalry, as it often does, they can fail to fire AND get caught with their backs to the enemy. Great planning, that. It seems to me, if I could see the enemy a mile off and we are marching to engage, some captain is going to yell, "Load!" or "Nock!" before we reach charge range from the enemy line. Not in MTWII.

Siege battles have issues with wall defenders. When you post a unit on the walls, they'll clump about 5 deep next to a tower and gradually thin down their line along the wall. Since the siege towers and the ladders can only attack the middle of a wall section, there frequently are almost no defenders at the point you KNOW is going to be attacked. And no amount of finagling the formation will allow you to spread the men out. So now you've conceded a clear space on the battlements to the enemy, instead of killing them one by one as they come over the wall.

I was in my second full campaign before I ever noticed a timer running on a siege battle. A timer is there to force an end to a stalemate. In MTW, it was a reasonable time. In MTWII, it's just beginning to move after 45 minutes or so. Perhaps if you didn't need to micromanage each unit because of the flaws above, the timer would do its job. But I have spent 2 hours on a single battle and not had time called. So basically, the timer doesn't exist.

On to the strategic campaign:

Diplomacy: Is there any? Really? Factions have many shades of grey in their relations, and they can execute many kinds of agreements. But they don't act in their own interest. I typically play a Galahad type. I'm nice to my neighbors, but highly trained in war. In my first campaign, early in the game I was at war with SEVEN factions, none of whom I provoked. I gave each multiple opportunities to stop the bloodshed, but they just returned insults, even when down to their last city. Each of the three factions that allied with me during the game treacherously attacked me, for no discernible reason and with no declaration. I finished the game as the only faction remaining (not even any Rebels) without ever starting a war myself. My experience in my second campaign was similar, but - and this was funny - once I grew big I had many offers to call a ceasefire if I would pay them huge quantities of money (more than twice what any other faction made in any year of the game), and this, while I was destroying their military in large gulps. It's clear that diplomacy is only an idea intended to delay the trampling of Europe that clearly you are going to be forced to do by the game. Why is offering a ceasefire to an all-but-wiped-out faction termed "Very Demanding?"

The Creative Assembly is convinced you insist on many and varied units in your games. Apparently, that group of us who enjoy the historical period as it historically was is out of luck. MANY units appear in MTWII that were not in MTW, to give you the appearance of getting something for the money if you already have MTW. Where did they come from? I played Russia in one campaign and had dozens of Dvor and Druzhina units. What are they? According to Wikipedia, Dvor are "nobility" - the court of a prince. Druzhina are the bodyguards of a chieftain. (Hey! Generals already have bodyguards in the game.) So half my army or more was nobles and bodyguards. No wonder the home provinces rebelled - nobody was home in charge! MTW had "boyars," which are the highest rank of Russian aristocracy. MTWII adds "boyar's sons." Big deal. I'm holding out for "boyar's dogs." So if you like tons of different units, be advised that many of these are drawn from sources that never comprised whole units - let alone whole armies.

Next, examine how you recruit. Dvor and Druzhina are recruited exclusively at upgraded castles. No problem there. But when as a Russian I capture Nottingham in England, I can raise these units there. And I can't raise Welsh bowman or English billhooks. What gives? Mercenaries admirably adhere to the historical availability of troop types by province, but regular recruitment doesn't. Historically, conquerors incorporated the local troops into their armies. They didn't suddenly retrain the populace in foreign weapons and tactics. This gets really laughable when you raise cavalry units in places which had little or no access to horses.

In fact, access to cavalry has always been too free in Total War games. It is frequently the case that it makes no sense to recruit infantry if cavalry units are available. The expanded tactical usefulness more than compensates for cost. You can't run down a fleeing enemy with infantry. You can't easily provoke an advance from the foe and then hit it in the flank from another direction with infantry. Historically, cavalry was both limited by the availability of suitable mounts and by local traditions of how horses were used. Only peoples born to the saddle were effective in mounted warfare. But in any Total War game I can slap an unlimited number of urbanized citizens on horses and fight my battles.

In MTW, when you hired a mercenary company, it could never be recruited back to strength after taking losses. In MTWII it can. But where or when is not noted by the rulebook and in practice it feels random. Don't plan on keeping mercs up to strength.

Come to think of mercs - THEY never rebel, walk off, or change sides! You can't bribe the enemy's mercs with higher pay. Ah well - wait for MTWIII.

Princesses? A wasted idea. The AI has them and they waste a ton of your time. I've had 3 from a single faction proposition the same city every year for 20 years. Even on rapid animation, this takes time. What are they up to? A diplomacy screen never opens. The city may not contain a marriageable general, so what's the deal? And why don't they get discouraged and go away? Annoying. When your own royal ladies come of age, there is never a faction event to recognize it. Really, the only way you'll notice your women is by opening the agent summary screen. Then, good luck finding them. They aren't worth the effort, frankly.

Reinforcements: Generally, reinforcements in land battles are good. They USUALLY show up for the battle (sometimes they do not). But they sometimes enter the battlefield and just sit there while the army you are controlling is being pasted. Other times, when you have a huge advantage in missile troops and just want to pound the enemy at range, your reinforcements will immediately charge in. Then not only do they take big melee losses, your friendly fire is killing them too. Great plan. This despite the fact that almost every time, the reinforcements are a separate army of YOUR troops, not some ally's. You have a choice: give the reinforcements to the AI to (mis)handle as it desires, or control it yourself, which means that you only get enough to bring your total troops on the field to the unit limit. Then, if a unit routs off the field or dies in its boots, another will be fed in.

Reinforcements in naval battles are almost meaningless. They will never cause or receive a casualty. Never.

Where did hotkeys go? The manual only lists a few for handling groups of units in a battle: CTL-C for "all cavalry", for instance. Thankfully, useful keys available in MTW still work ("R" = "Run, for example) but the manual doesn't mention them. The critical one for the campaign screen, that color-codes all your provinces by happiness, does NOT work. So, each turn, your choice is to check dozens of provinces individually for problems, or just deal with the rebellion in your supposedly safe and far-from-the-front-lines capital. Dumb.

I could go on and on. But I'll just add one more, probably the worst problem that gets in the way of any historical result. You want to take an enemy stronghold quickly and cheaply? Show up with a clear advantage in troop quantity or quality. Either have siege engines along, or spend one turn building some. Then Assault, and let the AI determine the outcome. You'll almost always take the place and lose less than 100 soldiers doing so. (If you play out the battle, you'll almost always lose far more, even with big advantages in numbers.) The enemy would be better off only fighting you in the fields. The AI gives up even their citadels with basically no fight. Woo-hoo. Those of you accustomed to God cheats might like this "feature." I don't.



The Bottom Line
I wanted SO MUCH to love this game. I played the original MTW to death, and I wanted more/better. Unfortunately, MTWII is a downgrade. For the 3-D battles and a few minor changes (castles) you get a major downgrade to the play mechanics, a worse adherence to the period, and a clutter of new detail that does pretty much nothing.

Stick to MTW.

Windows · by Professor (105) · 2009

[v3.0] Superior in strategy but disastrous in Total War

The Good
Review: 3rd Update. Sorry, keep updating this since I found myself playing it again...please don't hate me. :)
Game version: v1.0.0.0
Tech Specs Used: Intel Dual Core 2 1.86 Ghz Processor, 1GB Memory, 256MB NVIDIA 7300 LE Video Card.
Level Difficulty Played: Hardest
Campaign mode used: Long
Faction used: England
Unit size used: Large;
Style of game play used: Defensive, focusing on ranged units.

I was eagerly awaiting the release of this game (only to get it 1 year later) as I am a Total War fan, specifically a Rome: Total War fan, as anyone who enjoys 3D mass battles, the Total War series is as close to medieval combat realism as you can get at this point in time.

I don't remember much about the previous Medieval: Total War, except I didn't like it that much, and unfortunately I eventually didn't like this one either that much compared to the first Total War and Rome: Total War although I must admit I’m totally addicted to it, but I'll save that later in the bad part.

There are however, a lot of improvements they made in this version of Total War that was lacking in Rome: Total War and previous predecessors.

Race Selection
Unlike Rome: Total War, where it is obvious that the three Roman factions have a major advantage over every other race in the game (if not units, then most obviously in buildings), this is not so in Medieval 2: Total War. Each faction of course has different strengths and weaknesses, the English for example have excellent archers but lack cavalry, the Scottish have excellent infantry and pikemen units but lack everything else, the French boast the best cavalry but lack strong infantry (er…I think), the Holy Roman Empire has the strongest units in the beginning of the game, but lack advanced units later in the game, etc.

There isn’t much difference between this and previous Total War games, however it is noticeable that in previous installments, you usually rely on one or two type of unit types. In this installment, there are a multitude of units to choose from, all with unique abilities that one cannot simply ignore.

The reason for the existence of these new buildings are due to the more "upgrades" the city/castle has. Each upgrade introduces more buildings which give you access to more these units. Additionally, more unique units may be access from "guilds" that are offered randomly to settlements with appropriate size.

Political Map – Concept Overview
There is a new unique concept introduced in this game: Towns and Castles (or I think it's new). Now, whenever you have a settlement, you can either make either expand it into a Town or a Castle, and you can change your village into a town or castle at any time (well, mostly at the beginning - I noticed you can't change when its grown to a certain size), with the consequence that some buildings may be destroyed that are not unique to either type.

Towns focus on trade, politics and civil responsibilities. More towns means more revenue and access to certain unique buildings not available to castles. Towns may be upgraded into bigger cities, providing access to even more buildings, but population control will be a problem eventually and thus, the order and happiness of the people are frequently a problem.

Castles focus on military units and there are a lot of units at that! Castle may be upgraded into stronger fortresses and citadels, providing better units, armor, weapons and defense. In 3D combat, Castles also provide an additional wall of defense that you may choose to retreat to if the outer wall is breached.

Castles do not provide a lot revenue, however, happiness and population control is rarely a problem.

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With the introduction of these 2 settlement types, strategy in the political map somewhat changes as you’d want castles to be near the borders of your enemies and strong towns backing up your monetary income. Or simply strategically placing them in areas where you can maximize the access to unique guilds that introduce unique units.

The game also introduces a new garrison feature. Garrisoned units (only in towns) provide require no maintenance each turn, and thus helps establish order for your population as well as guard your establishments. The bigger the garrison building, the more, the stronger and various units may be garrisoned there. However, only certain unit types may be garrisoned there (provided in the information building section).

Political Map – Buildings
A lot going on in this department, but there is one new feature worth mentioning: Guilds. A large town or castle will have access to guild services, where a guild may approach one of your towns or castles randomly and establish a base there. Towns for example have access to the Thieves Guild, Merchants Guild, Explorers guild, etc., which provide unique services and usually unique units available for recruitment. Castles have access to guilds that increase experience of troops training there, such as the Swordsman Guild, etc. There can only be one guild per city/castle however, thus strategically placing guilds are essential for efficient expansion.

Some guilds may be accessed by both settlement types, such as the Teutonic Knights, Knights Hospitaller, etc.

Political Map – Artificial Intelligence
One of the irritating features in Rome: Total War, Barbarian Invasion and Rome: Total War - Alexander, especially the last two, was the distance between two cities. Though the location and distances appear to be the same in Medieval 2: Total War, the experience however did not. The cities feel much closer together simply because there is more AI movement going around. Enemy AI armies move more frequently, especially in Western Europe and are always in constant battle with each other, unlike in Rome: Total War (even after the patches) where it always seems that it’s you against everyone else.

In Medieval 2: Total War, you feel just like another player.
And that’s a good thing.

Political Map – Diplomacy
Almost all strategy games have not mastered this concept, and I personally don’t know why. The only 3 things that is important in AI diplomacy is [1] Your relations with another faction [2] The chances your offer will be accepted by another faction [3] The consequence of a successful or failed offer.

This game has barely succeeded in this concept, but it is a major upgrade from Rome: Total War, that laced #2. Here, you know the chances that an offer will be accepted as there is an explanation in the diplomacy dialog: ie. Demanding, Generous, etc.

There is a minor irritation in this department however, since that explanation only pops up after you have given an offer, while for efficiency, that explanation show be shown in the process of you increasing your offer. (Example, the only way I know if my offer is good, is when to [1] I offer a certain amount of gold to another faction [2] Finalize the agreement [3] See the reaction. Giving 200 gold turns out to be a generous offer. But I want to give an amount of gold that is considered very generous, but don’t want to go overboard. I have to manually offer gold to see the reaction of the other faction, instead of seeing the reaction automatically every time (ie. skipping part #2 of the above) I’m in the process of increasing or decreasing my offer).

Political Map – Papal Politics
A unique version of politics here is the association of the Catholic states with the Pope. Relations with the Pope will ultimately effect your relations with everyone else (well, only with excommunication though). Good relations will allow access to demand a Crusade from the Pope to the Holy Land or to an excommunicated faction, whereas bad relations with the Pope may get you excommunicated and have a Crusade held against you!

Popes are chosen by Cardinals. Cardinals are appointed by the Pope to stationed priests of virtue in each Catholic State. The more Cardinals you have, the more likely you can choose the next Pope. When a Pope dies, you can choose one out of the three eligible candidates. Choosing the right Pope (the one that gets elected) will greatly increase your reputation with the Pope and the Papal States. Choosing the wrong one will drastically increase your relations. In the process of electing the next Pope, you can negotiate to persuade other states to cast their vote to a particular candidate. Eventually, how and where Christianity (read=your ambition) spreads depends on your active role in Papal politics.

If you have enough standing with the Pope, you can call for a crusade to the holy land or to an excommunicated Catholic faction. The purpose of a Crusade is to call all Catholic nations to send in troops to siege and conquer a particular city. Any nation can call for a Crusade. Failure to answer to the call of the Pope will result in a decrease of relations. An appointed crusading army may cross all Catholic borders without provoking bad relations with that state.

The Muslims seem to have a similar concept with the Jihad (their version of the crusade, but I don’t have access to Islamic states to confirm this – need to finish one of the campaigns first, I believe).

3D Combat
Some minor changes that greatly effect the game play in 3D combat. First, siege units have a greater role in combat. Ballistae in particular are more accurate and have more ammunition (actually all siege and ranged units have more ammunition), making siege units and the Ballistae in particular, a must in almost all battles.

The terrain now is also more diverse, in terms of hills and slopes. This effects army positions and future maneuvers drastically.

Heroes
Heroes now are no longer plagued with various bad traits (only a few) and those that are do not effect the game that much. The concept continues the previous Medieval: Total War, where there are 2 unique traits for a hero: Dread and Chivalry. Dread instills fear to the people by committing violent and bloodthirsty actions. Chivalry instills respect from your subject by committing honorable deed. Either trait is needed to manage cities (preventing a rebellion), so planning ahead which hero will be a saint or a butcher is also an integral part of the game play.

Mercenaries
They finally fixed that stupid irritating feature where before in Rome: Total War you could not reinforce mercenaries to maximum strength (only way to do that was to purchase more mercenaries). Thus, now mercenaries are the very much important when you stuck in the middle of nowhere and need fast muscle. Expensive in hiring, but worth it.

Due to the multitude of new units, there are also a multitude of weird mercenary units waiting to be exploited. Each province (it seems) introduce many different mercenary units…though thankfully (I think), they can be reinforced anywhere in the world. Hmm, need to get back on you on that one.

[edit] Actually it seems that they can't...argh...I need crossbows in Jerusalem.

Crusades & Mongol Invasion
Don’t you love spilling infidel blood…or anyone else’s blood for that matter. The crusades although may seem uninteresting at the beginning of the game, since you have better domestic tasks to do at home, has a greater effect on game play in the long run.

Crusader heroes get various chivalric traits and retinues (only if fighting infidels though), you get prestige and even more traits if the crusade is successful, plus you can recruit a lot of freakin cheap unique crusader units along the way. Though if your crusading army makes no progress to the holy land, some of your units may become disgruntled and desert your army.

The Mongol Invasion only matters if you have a province in the Middle East. I restarted the game a couple of times and did this during the crusades. Game play drastically changed, once during the crusades and after the Mongol Invasion. Almost every turn there's a battle going on (which is fine by my tastes).

Educational Value
The second most important feature in Total War I have to admit and bluntly praise to the developers is the level of information provided regarding the time era specified. Each unit and building has a historical description, giving the reader a crash course in medieval history…which in the end actually is more than the average dude on the street.

Siege Fixes
Finally, someone noticed.

The apparent fixes are among others:

  • Units are easier to place on walls. Easier to move on and from the walls;
  • Siege units can move in and out of city gates.
    [edit: I spoke too soon, see bad]

    **The Bad**
    Despite all the upgrades in the political map section, in the end there is only one thing that matters: Total War. And what is Total War, you may ask? Well, that’s mass 3D combat. And what important in 3D combat? [1] Unit Control;
    [2] Unit Maneverability and Response;
    [3] Unit Formations; All three in one way or the other have several overlapping aspects. Now this is where Medieval 2: Total War failed. In fact it became worse in comparison to Rome: Total War. How this happened is beyond me, but I’ll explain how. Unit Controls and Own-unit AI
    One of the important things in issuing orders to units is that you expect them to do what they are told, with no delay (or at least within reason). When you tell them to turn left, they should turn left; Turn right, they should go right; Move forward, retreat, you get the picture. More importantly, they should do it in formation, unless you allow them to do other wise. Here, this became disastrous. The units in combat almost have no discipline, evidently seen with most units, especially cavalry units. Cavalry units in medieval warfare (historically) foretell the outcome of a battle. Ranged units weaken enemies, infantry units creates a wall between you and the enemy, but cavalry units deals the final decisive blow. However, you cannot expect that from cavalry units now (and all other units for that matter), why? Because they don’t do what you want them to do: [The “Spreading” Bug]
    My personal experience was when I told my units to chase a broken unit (retreating unit). Sure, they chase them, but they became so spread out that they ended up bumping into other enemy units and started engaging them instead. When I mean spread out, I mean spread out like 3 -6 times the original formation. Yes, it really was that bad. I don’t know what stupid programmer made the AI in this, but this totally ruined my Total War experience. Even more irritating is that your units sometimes have the stupidity to stop just behind a broken unit, thus sometimes they don’t capture anyone at all, since they keep stopping instead of chasing them. You have to manually direct your cavalry units (since infantry units can’t run very well) to chase enemy broken units down, or else they’ll go all over the place. If you are chasing an enemy unit with some units on the far right and some units on the far left, your cavalry will chase the left and before reaching them, turn right and repeat the process, without really capturing anyone sometimes. Spesifically this is what the unit will do when "pursuing" a unit. And this is almost always:
  • Line up chasing the unit it a not very tidy formation, and many individual troops may be left behind or are ahead;
  • As they rear close to the flank, the frontal units stop and retreat;
  • Suddenly all the units move "inward" while the inward goes "outward" ... this is where the "spreading" bug occurs;
  • Since they are not spread, they may not capture certain units running "between the gaps";
  • If the broken units suddenly turn direction, your units ignore this and keep its same course and turning several seconds later, thus losing a lot of ground re-chasing that broken unit. Stupid programming. [The “Stop, I’m thinking” (Delay) Bug”]
    There is a 2-3 second delay each time you issue a command to a unit. That’s 2-3 seconds too long when you have enemy cavalry rearing up your ass 5 seconds away. It does make sense on some occasions, it does not however make sense when your chasing broken units and sometimes when you issue an attack, they stop first, think, than attack again. That alone gives the enemy a 5-10 second head start. [The No Charge Bug]
    More than often, cavalry (and other units) don’t charge when they’re supposed to, which is obvious that no “charging” description shows up in the card unit description. Making cavalry units sometime ineffective in provoking an enemy unit to break ranks. It’s almost a gamble when they charge or not, especially in the middle of movement. The only certain way to ensure a charge is to “park” you units in a close distance from the enemy unit then “double-click” to attack. Hopefully, they’ll remember to charge, more than often however, they don’t charge and just “pursue”…which means they’re going to spread themselves from here to Jerusalem…again. Stupid programming. [“All for one, One for All” Bug]
    Retreating and maneuvers is essential. The problem with maneuvers, especially with cavalry, is that your units are bound to meet up with enemy units suddenly attacking from all directions. Now this irritating bug occurs when just one soldiers in your unit bump into another enemy units. The following may occur: [1] Your unit continues to move, but slows down a bit just to see that stupid comrade die;
    [2] Your whole unit goes back to save their buddy and attack that enemy unit, ignoring the original command from me, ie. Move you spineless women! (quoting from generals);
    [3] Either way, formation goes to hell. Simply put, when I say run, then god damnit run. Especially when you have 3 units of cavalry rearing up your ass, you still have time to attack stupid peasants on the way?
    Stupid programming. Formation Inefficiency
    Another annoying issue is regarding formations. Total War never seems to grasp the concept of placing formations efficiently. When you move a single unit, you won’t know where they will face, unless you manually (by pressing right click) set the formation and to where they will be facing. To a certain extent I get completely bored re-arranging my formations at every start of the battle, especially when I’m using the same army as before, there is no way to “save previous formations” in battle, or even create your own unique default formations, including the width and depth of units. You have to do this every freaking time at the start of each freaking battle. No wonder in the end you just press “automatic battle” because it no longer becomes a fun battle, it becomes a tedious task. Another stupid feature they still havent fixed is sometimes when you change the formation of a unit (in the same unit), the dudes in the right move left, the ones on the left move right, and the center...well, depends on their mood. Now imagine that occuring when you have an enemy formation moving in front of you. God. Lack of game play vision. --- Thus, I also noticed that it’s no longer fun to watch enemies fight each other. In Rome: Total War, I used to love watching single units fight each other, but now, the units seem smaller with no proper angle to see them fight each other effectively, in addition to the fact I can’t trust my units to follow my orders since most of them act like tourists running all over the goddamn battle ground. Terrain Issues
    Terrain, although more diverse (mountains, hills, slopes) and beautiful is unfortunately irritating. It's a problem since you have trouble identifying which is higher and lower altitudes. This is noticeable when you place siege units, only to find out that they have the range but don’t have the angle to shoot at enemies, thus they have to move a very long distance (not that long, but they move slow) to a more effective location. Combat in dense forests is nightmare. Why? Because you can't bloody see where your units are! Someone turn off the "tree-tops" settings. Not seeing enemy units is one thing, not seeing your own is another. I didn’t know it rains in Arabian desert. Then why is it raining? Doh. There was one time in the city of Accra, where my reinforcements could not join the battle because they were stuck on a mountain. How the hell…? 3D Follow/Chase Camera
    Hey, what the hell happened here? In Rome: Total War we had this magnificent 3D camera where you double-left click on a unit and the camera follows the unit everywhere it goes. Very useful in seeing your cavalry pursue enemy units. Now, the camera ends in several seconds, it no longer follows the unit as the chase-cam stops. What the…? Defending Siege Positioning
    Positioning units on walls is easy (almost). Positioning them anywhere else besides the walls is nightmare. Why? Because the roads are narrow and you have all those beautiful buildings in the way. Placing siege units and cavalry are nightmare, since not every place is “wide” enough from them. Stupid planning. Mongol Political Map AI
    It may be a rare occurrence, but the Mongols sometimes aren't attacking any cities? There was some instances where they siege a city, then they move somewhere else. Now they're attacking me at Jerusalem and ignoring the Turks and the Egyptians. What's going on here? They go doing this cycle until finally they conquer one city the start fighting like any other AI. Heroes and Princess
    Hero traits are a little better here, but there are 2 things that bother me, one of them is an old issue. The first is not knowing where and how they can get a good trait or a bad trait (well, I do know since I edited that file in Rome: Total War, but some of these random traits are irritating, such as "Poor Tax Collector" or something like that. How do I get rid of that? I may be a sore loser, but to me it's more logical if I know the consequence to my hero from what I'm doing. Like winning a battle, goody an additional combat trait. Princess. Though a great feature, why are all of them ugly? (ie. Less than 3 charm points). Seriously, with the exception of princess at the beginning of the game, how come almost every single one of them have zero charm? I have not found a way to increase this charm, and now find my self with generals lacking children due to ugly wives. :p Retinues
    Hmm, they changed it. A little better but not what I had in mind. Now I can't give retinues to another general (except Tutors). Darn it, it used to be fun doing that. At least there's a few bad retinues now (Pagan Magician is one) that I've noticed. The game would be more fun if they kept the old retinue system, but could save the retinues in some place for future use. Also a way to kill bad retinues. In the original Total War you could kill your own generals, diplomats, hey anything. God, this is something I need really, since some of my priests and diplomats are idiots. Personally I'd prefer to "retire" them with some possibly better candidates. Unit Upgrades
    Well, there isn't any, that's the problem. When you have a lot of new buildings that give you better units of the same type, ie. archers. Then there is a problem with the old units who happen to have a lot of experience. Disbanding them seems to be the only alternative, since its easier to get experience (due to constant combat) for new units, and you want to keep a check on those army wages. Auto saves
    There really should be 2 auto saves here. One at the beginning of the current turn and one at the beginning of the previous turn.

    **The Bottom Line**
    In the end, I got bored with this game because of the lousy game play in 3D combat. Total War without effective 3D combat controls simply isn't Total War. It just becomes another strategy game. When developers will focus more on the 3D combat and less on eye-candy graphics, this series will be once again worth the play. They got right the first time in the first Total: War, but further away, it got worse and worse (got better with Rome: Total War, but the bugs also ruined it). Don't know if I'll still be a Total War fan at this rate.
  • Windows · by Indra was here (20633) · 2008

    I know I am not that good at strategy, but I can't be this bad.

    The Good
    The battles are really massive and it's easily the most awesome-to-watch RTS out there. I just love to send thousands of soldiers into combat, the swords clashing, burning arrows flying and the sound of my crying processor backing it all up. Simple fights can vary from anywhere between 600 to 8000 sprites on the screen which all have randomized bodies and faces and carry banners. It is rare to see a game that is both interesting to play and also interesting to watch.

    The game has a lot of depth to it, more so than any other strategy game I have ran into thus far. Not only do you have to manage your economy and soldiers, but you also need to keep different factions happy, most notably the pope. You also have to go into discussion with different nations and the tech tree is not as mapped out as it was in Civ games. I am pretty sure that the fact that you have to manage every single city this way will appeal to the most hardcore of the RTS fans, for me it was personally quite a novelty, but it did get overwhelming later on.

    As far as I know the game is very historically accurate which is always a plus for me. I was pretty surprised when the tutorial battle had me fighting the Saxons because I am a descendant of Saxons myself. I haven't really done any research, but the fact that characters age and seem to die at fixed moments in the plot suggests to me that Creative Assembly went through quite a bit of research to get all these details which feels like a treat to me.

    The Bad
    After playing the Hyrule: Total War mod for a while (which lacks a campaign mode) I decided to try the real stuff out for once and go into the Grand Campaign, however this proved to be an overwhelming disaster from start to finish. My first problem was with the cities and upgrading the buildings because I couldn't for the love of god wrap my mind around all the damn effects. It was several hours in that I realized you must either have a city or a castle because I had been investing money on developing several of my dozens of cities and the option to upgrade these two came up quite often. Aside from that I often ran into the situation where I could spend an entire hour pouring resources into a city and still not been able to recruit any halfway decent units from the place.

    I was already disappointed before I even started playing the Grand Campaign, I happen to know there are quite a lot of nations out there in the world, so why the hell can you only play as eight of them? I wasn't expecting to be able to play as the Saxons, but where the hell were countries like Russia or the Viking lands? Given, you can go there and take over the countries, but that doesn't make you the country for the same reason standing in an opening doesn't technically make me a door.

    After playing as England for a while I decided to go for the main goal: I had to rule over fifteen regions and eliminate France and Scotland. Scotland proved rather easy a target, but when I took it to France and took out three cities at once, suddenly half the world was up in arms against me and even the damn pope suddenly reduced me from level 9 to level 1 on his friendship scale to the point he was very close to throwing a crusade into my direction. I managed to hold off, but when I couldn't find a single city that got fetch me a diplomat and the Danes suddenly joined the fray, I decided to quite and try the Roman empire for once... To cut it short: The game saved me the effort and just started me out in a war with four factions.

    An alternative to managing each city on your own is "auto manage" which will have the AI do all the work for you while you just give it some general pointers (such as focus on financial or focus on military), but the AI is beyond stupid and would often just sit there and do absolutely nothing. I swear I was ten turns further and it hadn't given out a single construction or recruitment order, it did nothing. However, the rival AI is strong as shit, so I had to do every fight by looking at the size of our armies and do the auto-battle. During the Roman Empire attempt I mentioned earlier I had to fight against Venice which only had one city, but I lost count of how many times I mustered a huge force and slaughtered my way to their city, they just kept producing more generals and more armies despite having no access to resources whatsoever.

    After every turn you get a whole post office full of messages dumped on your screen about recent developments and some of these were just pointless. One thing they would throw me to death with was marriage requests, but the problem is that unless they offer you a man, you will get a princess who pretty much acts as a diplomat, but why would you want to sacrifice one of your generals in trade for a diplomat you can also recruit, while you are been attacked almost all the time before you can even raise a single sword at an enemy.

    During the few diplomatic meetings I managed to get into I did very well, but the results were always impossible to notice afterwards. I often went for trade rights or map information, but I never noticed my economy growing or the map changing at all. I also managed to ally myself with some other empire, but when the time was there they were nowhere to be found. My favorite moment was by far when the pope told me to stop attacking the French for a few turns, but apparently the message wasn't send to both parties, so I had half of France on my doorstep while I wasn't allowed to raise a single finger.

    The Bottom Line
    Medieval II: Total War seems like every RTS-fan's dream to me, but personally I found it to be very unclear and overwhelming. I did the tutorial, I read most of the text, all I didn't do was listen to the annoying hints because the few useful ones were burried beneath endless streams of instructions on how to walk. This game would just be infinitely better if it would just get right down to business, I don't need to know the history behind dirt paths, just tell me exactly what it increases or decreases and stop calling it trade, does trade refer to the economy? If yes than call it economy. Does a faction not agree to a proposal? Let me ask them what they would need to make the deal work anyway.

    If you are a big history fan or if you are big on RTS games then this is likely the game for you. In case you are looking for something a lot lighter I can recommend Battle for Middle-Eart II or the Civ games, but not this. Also, for the Zelda fans: Get your hands on Hyrule: Total War, they won't let me add it to the database, but it's a thousand times better than half the other games on here ;).

    Windows · by Asinine (957) · 2011

    Trivia

    1001 Video Games

    Medieval II: Total War appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

    Awards

    • Computer Games Magazine
      • March 2007 - #8 Game of the Year 2006
    • GameSpy
      • 2006 – PC Non-RTS Strategy Game of the Year (Gamers' Vote)
    • PC Powerplay (Germany)
      • Issue 02/2007 – #2 Best Strategy Game in 2006

    Information also contributed by Bhatara Dewa Indra I.

    Related Games

    Empire: Total War
    Released 2009 on Windows, 2014 on Macintosh, Linux
    Medieval: Total War
    Released 2002 on Windows
    Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion
    Released 2003 on Windows
    Medieval II: Total War - Kingdoms
    Released 2007 on Windows, 2016 on Linux, Macintosh
    Medieval II: Total War - Gold Edition
    Released 2007 on Windows, 2016 on Linux, Macintosh
    Rome: Total War
    Released 2004 on Windows, 2016 on iPad, Android

    Related Sites +

    • Total War
      Medieval II: Total War official website.
    • Total War - Zone
      German site containing information about the Total War series (only for "Rome" and newer games in the series). Also hosts many mods for these games.
    • Total War Wiki
      Medieval II: Total War at the official Wiki.

    Identifiers +

    • MobyGames ID: 24995

    Contribute

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    Contributors to this Entry

    Game added by Sicarius.

    Linux, Macintosh added by Charly2.0.

    Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Rebound Boy, UV, Paulus18950, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Sasu, FatherJack.

    Game added December 9th, 2006. Last modified April 29th, 2023.