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The latest update to the Mythos Edition of the marvellous Darthmod project for Napoleon: Total War has landed according to ModDB, which makes this a good excuse to highlight Darthmod for any Total War players who haven't considered modding the game at all just yet. The infamously challenging has gradually added more and more units to Napoleon, and has tuned the AI to be more aggressive and tougher to beat. Installing it will add 191 new land units, 14 new naval units and extra visual effects that make Napoleon's battlefields smokier, bloodier and more explosive. The mod also increases unit sizes and includes a campaign that supports 40 unit armies. The AI has been overhauled to use its generals more carefully, and combat has been rebalanced to make melee more decisive.
Ever since there have been Total War games, there have been Total War modders. As soon as the Creative Assembly release a new Total War game, an army of enthusiasts pounce, retexturing units, overhauling the AI and crafting new campaigns. We've sifted through the hundreds of Total War mods out there and found ten of the best. These mods give us whole new areas of history to explore, fantasy worlds to conquer and challenging new campaigns to play. From Rome through to Napoleon: Total War, we've got you covered.
"We were talking a moment ago about a historical character who, in a battle, inspired his men to great feats of bravery by cutting his own head off during the charge,” says Mike Simpson, Creative Assembly’s creative director. “Now, this is obviously a one shot special ability.” Total War is going back to the beginning. Before there was Napoleon, or an Empire, or a Rome to fall, there was Shogun: Total War. Released in 2000, it wed battlefield tactics and campaign strategy, enabled us to conquer feudal Japan, and turned its developers from creators of EA Sports titles to leaders of strategy gaming. This is a return to where it all started.
Through shallows of waving grass they come, hundreds of them, spears gripped, armour glittering, flags aflutter in the scented spring breeze. So many gaudy uniforms and ludicrous hats! So much splendour and misguided confidence. The gaily coloured attackers are converging on my anvil – four formations of nervous Kiheitai riflemen. My hammers – twelve units of Sharpshooters and White Bear infantry – are waiting in nearby woodland for the perfect moment to strike.
A series of new Shogun 2: Total War screens have landed, revealing new units and features, from the eagle eyed bow monk to the huge siege engine of the sea, the tower ship. If you're looking forward to next year's strategy epic, you'll definitely want to check these out. All the images can be found below. Click on them to see them full size.
The Creative Assembly have released the raw table data for Empire and Napoleon on the Total War forums. The files should help modders looking to change in-game properties find the files they need to tweak within Total War's complex file structure. As well as this gesture of support for what used to be one of PC gaming's most prolific and passionate modding communities, The Creative Assembly explain why they've been unable to provide the same level of mod support that fans have enjoyed in older games like Rome and Medieval 2.
Nick "Darth Vader" Thomadis has announced that there won't be any more follow ups to the popular Darthmod series of mods for Total War after receiving no invite to The Creative Assembly's upcoming modders' summit. "There will be some support for older games, if needed, as all my mods are complete now but there will be not a new DarthMod for new Total War games and of course not for the upcoming RTW2," said Thomadis on Facebook. "Do not worry about the future of the current DarthMods. They will stay and will be probably somewhat more improved. Maybe now I will have more time to play them."
The Roman senate will weep for Crassipes. They'll talk proudly of how the great general threw himself against the walls of Massalia. They'll talk of how he burned the gates and took the central square, and how a dozen Averni javelins ended his illustrious command of Legio I Italica there. But will they talk of the fleet barely a mile away that sat still and watched the great man lemming his way into the history books? Do they realise that the patriot they adored was sent intentionally to his death? I wonder what that would do if they knew that the fate of Crassipes and all the armies and settlements of Rome were not beholden to the gods, but to one bearded games journalist moving them like pawns on a vast playing board. What a beautiful board it is - an intricate papier mache caricature of Europe, decorated with landmarks, rivers and exaggerated topography. Total War has come a long way from the papery maps of Shogun, but its form is the same. You must guide your chosen nation to glory by managing cities, conducting diplomacy, plotting espionage and moving armies to conquer new settlements. When your armies meet resistance, you dive into a real-time battle and command the troops personally.
I had to rub my eyes. How could this have happened? Scant turns into Shogun 2’s campaign on the Hard setting, and I’d conquered my first city. My early-game army was already marching toward the next. Then one of the other clans landed a naval transport next to my home city and walked a small army right in. Total War’s AI, it seems, doesn’t have trouble with ships any more. Thus began my army’s panicked march home to retake its own capital. Dismay, bedwetting, and the thrill of a fateful challenge: a good opener for ten.
The Creative Assembly's TW Craig posted on the Total War forums earlier with news of an upcoming event that will give modders a chance to meet the designers and programmers behind their favourite strategy series. "We'd like to hold a modding summit here at The Creative Assembly at the end of July. Maybe we'll hire a venue somewhere," writes TW Craig. "The main thing is we can have these conversations with you ourselves, explain why limitations are in place if they exist, and help if there's any way we can."
Creative Assembly have released their first batch of screenshots for Shogun 2: Total War. We've got them below, along with a bunch of evocative woodblock print art to set the tone of the Japan-set game. Click on the beautiful mini-images to let your eyes see beautifuller maxi-images.
I recently met with Creative Assembly at their Horsham studio, where I tried my hardest not to dribble over the shoulder of one of their staffers as he walked me through the basics of Shogun 2: Total War. You can read my overall impressions in the next issue of PC Gamer, but I thought it’d be nice to throw up some details of what I saw on the day.
After a controversial launch, Empire has gone on to become one of the sleeper hits of the Total War series. A few weeks before the standalone Total War: Shogun 2 expansion, Fall of the Samurai was released, we asked Creative Assembly studio director, Mike Simpson about Empire's strange journey. "It’s weird isn’t it?" he said. "It does keep going – that’s one thing about Empire, it’s still selling now as much as it was a year ago and that just doesn’t stop." Empire was to be The Creative Assembly's most sprawling, ambitious Total War yet, but its release in 2009 was overshadowed by AI bugs. Passive enemies and weak AI frustrated Total War players. Simpson admits that The Creative Assembly "did take on a little bit more than we were actually capable of delivering by the date."
The Mount & Blade series has had a spotty history with guns, which is understandable when you consider that gunpowder was ultimately responsible for making both mounts and blades totally irrelevant. After the troubled Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword, Taleworlds and Flying Squirrel Entertainment are taking another pop at blackpowder in the form of this multiplayer-only expansion for Warband. It'll feature five factions and 220 units, historically accurate weapons and artillery, and an engineer class that can erect barricades. You'll also be able to become a musician and play drums, fifes, trumpets and bagpipes - which seems like a recipe for getting shot, to me.
It's Golden Joystick season, and this week we've got a list of the nominees for the best strategy game category. Unfortunately, StarCraft 2 isn't in this list - it was released a little too late to make it. The good news is that all but one of these games are on the PC, and the other one is on the iPhone. Sucks to be you, all those many console strategy games! Here's a video rundown of the nominees: