Posted: April 11
I bought this game on Day 1 and have seen it through all its permutations since. I can personally confirm it was every bit as buggy and otherwise flawed as reviews stated. That said, the version we now have is a very stable, engaging strategy game. The DLCs and the Emperor Edition allow you to play in many different classical time periods and as one of the wide array of states operating in those eras, and there is enough variety between factions to support different styles of play. Roman factions support the more stodgy, inexorable legions rolling slowly over everything with artillery and heavy infantry, while Eastern European and Middle Eastern factions support a hit-and-run, fast mover approach with lighter infantry and missile cavalry (absolutely infuriating to fight against as the former).
Fans of other TW games will notice significant differences in gameplay mechanics, particularly the Food system (buildings will generally trade off food for public order or vice versa) and in the inability to recruit armies or navies without generals. The Families system, also, provides an internal threat and added challenge for the time when you become the scariest thing on the map and the worst possible thing you could face is your mirror image. For those who find these and other systems lacking in some way, the game has been heavily supported by the TW modding community, offering everything from extra units to balance changes to complete overhauls.
The Pros (as of the time of writing)
+ Beautiful graphics on the campaign and battle maps
+ Stable game
+ Huge battles (typical TW)
+ Devilish agents, reminiscent of Shogun 2
+ Varied unit roster between factions
+ Naval battles are frantic and can morph into land battles
+ Reasonably well-balanced factions, where Rome can be given a run for its money
+ MP campaign is now stable.
+ Battle AI has improved in defensive battles for towns, where they will no longer sit still and get murdered by artillery (a fix Shogun 2 needed, also).
+ More complex than Civilization V
- The AI are fine as trading partners, but as allies are useless at best and problem children at worst
- Battle AI in the field uses fairly predictable tactics.
- The strategic resource system could be more in depth. Few buildings or units require particular resources, so they are more or less interchangeable with each other. It is not, however, the afterthough resources were in Shogun 2.
- Only one civil war can occur per game, allowing a player to go berserk after quelling it.
- Territories can't be traded. I liked being able to buy regions peacefully in Empire and Napoleon, but here you have to fight for all of it.
- AI relies heavily on militia, making large but weak stacks
- In MP campaigns, what a player can and can't do on the off-turn can be frustrating (you can change technologies and tax settings, but can't even inspect diplomatic standing)
- It's not as complex as Europa Universalis IV
Most of these cons can be fixed with mods, however. The underlying game is (now) a solid, enjoyable experience and I would recommend it to strategy game enthusiasts.