Friday 6 March 2009

More tea, vicar?

Having installed Empire: Total War (or “Reinstalled” it, thanks to slightly weird menu options), I jumped straight into a Grand Campaign. I’ve played the three previous games, after all, piece of cake. In those you start off owning one little bit of territory, the capital of which is a couple of hovels, you build some farms and barracks and stuff, recruit a few peasants with pitchforks and go off and invade the neighbours. Easy. So I chose to play Britain (of course), the campaign loads up, and…

Crikey. There’s more than a couple of hovels to manage. There are towns, and ports, and industry; there are colonies in America to establish, and the Indian subcontinent to exploit; Isaac Newton was wandering around southern England muttering something about apples. I did a bit of building, exhausted the national coffers, and within a couple of turns there were some really quite scathing pamphlets circulating the coffee houses of Fleet Street decrying my rule, including unflattering woodcuts. (OK, I might have imagined that last bit after reading Stephenson’s Baroque cycle again.)

Plan B, then: the “Road to Independence” campaign, a more story driven introduction to the new mechanics. Sure enough, you start with a single village and a couple of military units, and a helpful advisor telling you exactly what to do, a much easier way of getting into the swing of things. Part 1 is killing natives and stealing their land; not a problem, they didn’t even have a flag. Part 2, the dastardly French have arrived and started building forts. Well, I’m not having that, is there anything more natural than going to war with the French? Course not, so I’m currently laying siege to their strongholds. I’m not sure about the final part of the campaign, though. Declaring independence? Sounds a bit hasty to me. Let’s all sit down, and talk it over with a nice cup of te… oh dear.

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