Research is further expanded with a series of quests that become unlocked as new technologies are mastered. Typically requiring you to amass a certain amount of resources or population units, by completing these quests you are given certain bonuses that can offer a quick advantage over other nations.
But by far the most enjoyable and important aspect of the turn-based campaign is the diplomacy system, which allows you to make and break alliances, declare war, request rights of passage, trade and lend military units to coalition allies. By building embassies and newspaper offices in foreign countries, you can subvert other nations to your way of thinking. If no other nation makes a move you can, in time, peaceably annex the province and make it your own. And should another nation look likely to do the same to a province bordering yours, a build-up of force may well put them off - although you can expect a hit on your standing, one that's especially harsh should you carry out your threat without first declaring war. In short, it's refreshing to enjoy a wargame where diplomacy is given such priority - especially so here, as it's integrated so well within the framework of the game.
Command & Conquer
However skilful you are at bending governments to your manifesto, given the turbulent times during which the game is set, military conflict is inevitable. As with Total War, should two armies meet, the game switches into a real-time view of the province in dispute, with both armies facing off across a 3D landscape. To anyone familiar with the aforementioned TW games, the interface, views and controls will be immediately familiar.
Units are directed across the map as squads, with you able to set formations and drag out a line so that the troops will face in the desired direction when or if they reach their destination. What may come as a shock is the pace of the battles themselves, for whilst essentially IG requires the same paper-scissors-stone mentality as Total War, you will have to deal with weapons with ranges far greater than slings and arrows, and mounted soldiers that, unburdened by armour and heavy lances, will charge swiftly and decisively. The dynamics of combat may be the same - seek high ground, fake the enemy into your line of fire, cover your flanks, kick ass - but the pace of the 3D battle sequences make Rome's seem positively catatonic.
Imperial Glory is undoubtedly varied and accessible, but it still comes up short when compared to the mighty Rome. The spread of units is impressive, but the difference between many of them is so slight that it pays not to vary your force beyond three or four unit types. AI is competent, with troops retreating when overwhelmed, yet advancing into certain death perhaps a bit too readily.
Similarly, while soldiers will take cover among trees and inside buildings, the enemy do tend to break cover at the first sign of trouble. No bad thing, but whichever nation you happen to be fighting, they each seem to follow the same tactics - you would expect the French to perhaps be more aggressive, for example. There are other niggles too: such as the fact that defending forces cannot be deployed as they can in Total War, making the centrepiece battles for the capital cities seem less of a siege and more of a land-grab.
However, taking all the criticisms into account, it would take an unforgiving soul to be unimpressed with what Pyro has created for Imperial Glory, which is far and away the most spectacular wargame ever to be set during the Napoleonic era. It might not be up to quite the same standard as Total War in the scale and depth of its 3D battles, but graphically, the game just nudges ahead.
All in all, it's not far from forcing a stalemate. What's more, with two full campaigns to enjoy, a customisable skirmish option that can be taken online, and a small collection of historical encounters (Waterloo, Austerlitz), there's plenty to be getting on with before The Creative Assembly starts making serious plans to drag itself away from ancient history.
- Fast-paced 3D battles
- Diplomacy and wargaming combine to great effect
- Sea battles work very well
- Not as evolved or as challenging as Rome: Total War
- Buildings could've been implemented better