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Empire: Total War

The Creative Assembly takes us back to the 18th century

The Creative Assembly's road to success with Total War started with feudal Japan and Shogun, and since then the developer hasn't looked back.

Its latest game, Empire: Total War, was announced at this year's Games Convention in Leipzig, revealing an 18th century-setting strategy epic. One of the key features is the introduction of 3D naval warfare to the series, which the developer says is something it's always wanted to do - and the Empire era is perfect for its debut.

But naval warfare isn't the end of the new addition story - The Creative Assembly is promising enhancements across the board and generally deeper gameplay than we've witnessed in previous titles in the series, but at the same time cutting down on micro-management to avoid overburdening players.

Studio director and co-founder Mike Simpson and lead designer James Russell tell us more.

So, tell us about Empire: Total War...

James Russell: Empire: Total War's set in the 18th century and the time of the Industrial Revolution, the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

That's alot of revolutions.

Russell: And it's a revolutionary step for the game engine as well. Medieval II was an evolution of current technology. It's an all-new engine for Empire.

The single biggest thing we're adding is naval battles. It's always something we wanted to do. Naval battles are basically the third part of the game - so you have the turn-based campaign, real-time land battles and now we have real-time sea battles as well.

Why choose this particular period for the next Total War game?

Russell: We've always been attracted to this period.

Let us guess - navels, right?

Russell: We wanted to do naval warfare, and this is the ideal era to introduce it, it's the great age of fighting sail. This is the time people think of when they think of lines of sailing ships fighting each other.

It's an interesting period for us to do. It's a way to advance the gameplay and bring some enhancements to the gameplay that there is on the battlefield.

Mike Simpson: There's also the thing that technology was changing very rapidly as well. With a Total War game you really need a period where there's some kind of technological change to drive the whole technology tree.

Russell: Having said that, we don't want to create the impression that it's just about gunpowder units and ranged warfare. Obviously there's plenty of hand-to-hand fighting in the period as well, because the weapons were quite inaccurate. You have to get up pretty close to fire effectively, which means there's all sorts of melee fighting.

How does the different Empire stuff fit into the gameplay?

Russell: In loads of different ways. Obviously on the campaign map, the turn-based part of the game, we're expanding the scope in terms of geography, so we haven't just got Europe and the Middle East.

We've got the whole of India in the east and in the west we've got the United States and the Caribbean and Central America. We've lots of exotic factions and unit types that fit with each of those areas.

There are more features on the campaign map. Every time we do a new game we look at a feature set that's appropriate to the period. So for the Empire period we've got a lot of interesting stuff to do with technological development, the Enlightenment, the government types, that kind of thing.

But we don't want to overburden the player. We want to make sure we get deeper gameplay but that it's more centralised so you're thinking about it in terms of your whole country rather than making decisions again and again and repeating them throughout different regions. So you get deeper gameplay but less micro-management.

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