The environment generation has had a major overhaul too. So the player will see over-hanging cliff faces (which are good defensive positions), a mixture of vegetation which is matched to the ground types (tree lined rivers, thickly forested gullies and rugged rock-filled mountain passes) and reflecting water. New self-shadowing tech is on the way too.
Overall, textures are also done to a much higher level. In general, the texture resolution and polygon count is at least double those of Rome.
What time period are you covering in Med 2 and what factors made you choose this period this time?
Bob Smith: The grand campaign will span four and half centuries of history from the years 1080-1530. This specific period offers some incredible rich ingredients for the campaign - it begins with the golden age of chivalry and the Crusades, spans the Mongol invasion and the invention of gunpowder, and ends with gun toting professional armies, the renaissance and the discovery of America.
Are there any plans for more TV hook ups? We were big fans of Time Commanders - do you think Medieval 2 could push programmes like that forward?
Bob Smith: There's no doubt that we'd love to do more TV work with Medieval 2, particularly as the game makes such a significant jump from Rome. However, we can't discuss any plans we may or may not have in this area for the time being.
What's been the biggest challenge with Medieval 2: Total War?
Bob Smith: It's so hard to pick just one. However, the biggest challenge we faced would probably be the new system for cities and castles. This involved designing a system that would allow cities and castles to be both more spectacular than Rome, and allow the artists to be more productive. Implementing this required replacing a huge game subsystem, writing a complete new set of tools, and dealing with some gnarly technical issues.
What part of Medieval 2 has given you most joy? What part makes you most proud?
Bob Smith: Personally, I love the way we've captured the rich colour of the period. However much I look at them I still get a kick out of seeing the knights in their shining armour, the heraldry on their shields, their stripy lances, and the colourful barding on the horses.
Have you got any new plans for the multiplayer component of the game?
Bob Smith: We have some ambitious plans for multiplayer battles. We can't go into further details on this as yet.
We realise you can't commit to anything but are there any other time periods you think would be suitable for a Total War Game? We'd love to see Cavemen: Total War for example!
Bob Smith: There are many, many possible settings for Total War games but, much as we'd love to list some suitable time periods, we're going to stay focused on just one for now and that's Medieval. As for Caveman: Total War, that was the codename for Medieval 2 used by some of our marketing guys before the announcement. It's highly unlikely you'll hear of that particular Total War game again.
If you're a Total War fanatic then you absolutely must plant a broadsword through your calendar for this Thursday 2 February, when the latest issue of PC Zone erupts onto news stands. It features a massive 12 pages of Medieval 2: Total War goodness, plus exclusive screens, in-depth analysis, further commentary and insight from the development team and more hot Medieval info than you could cram into a pair of armoured trousers. Our advice? Don't miss it!