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hat kind of gamer are you? Do you like your titles to have fast and furious action, or do you like to be able to sit back and think about things for a while? If you're a little from column A, and a little from column B, this game is a fantastic choice. Basically what you're dealing with is a game that takes you through medieval history, but gives you the pen to rewrite its course of events by putting you in command of the swords which carved them.

This is a strategy game – there's no denying that. I spent huge amounts of time setting up my armies to do what I wanted, then maneuvered them into battle on the field. Now, when I say "armies," I mean exactly that. It's not like some games where one unit will actually represent a battalion of soldiers. Total War allows upwards of 10,000 individual units to do battle on the same field at the same time – and each has its own AI. The scope is magnificent, and like Shogun: Total War, conflict has rarely taken on this type of epic feeling for me. I would have liked to see a bit more attention paid to the bunching effect that happens when two armies clash for the first time, but it has gotten a bit better since Shogun. In any event, you can bet your sweet A that I'll be playing this one at home.  -KRISTIAN

REINER   8.5

The graphics may not glisten like gold, but unlike most games, you can't scream at a company for hiring colorblind artists. There's actually a good reason why Medieval comes up short in the visual presentation. In battle, if your army is one thousand strong, there will be one thousand soldiers on screen. Granted, the troop details are little more than a pixelated smudge, but every body is accounted for and driven by individual AI routines. When you look at it from this perspective, it's quite the spectacle. As for the gameplay, it is strategic, but rather than overwhelming gamers with the micromanaging of every little detail, Medieval sticks to the basics. Because of this, the balancing is right on the money, the AI is razor sharp, and every conquest comes down to the sheer skill of the players. Call it a Middle Age Shogun if you will, but its gameplay is in a league of its own.

A historically based strategy game made by people who obviously love both
There's nothing like seeing thousands of individual units doing battle at the same time
Nothing particularly wonderful here, but the victory music is really cool
I highly recommend going through the tutorials if you’re not familiar with this series
Things start slowly, but have a way of getting interesting in a hurry
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