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Originally released on the PC in early 2009, the enhanced Gold Edition of Creative Assembly’s Empire: Total War finally storms the shores of Macs thanks to Feral Interactive, delivering 18th-century conquest strategy action to fans of the longtime series. Your goal: to lead one of 12 empires and control a specified number of territories on the historically accurate maps before each match ends.
Total War’s turn-based approach expends half a year of in-game time per turn, and during your opportunities, you’ll give build orders, research technology, position troops on the battlefield, and order attacks. While you can negotiate treaties and sue for peace, make no mistake: the winner is the one with the most territories. I’m all for peaceful solutions, but this is Total War, not Total Gandhi.
The actual tactical battles are resolved in real time, where you control the squads you’ve committed to the attack. The battles can be either naval or land-based, and I much enjoyed the former in particular, thanks to the ability to position my ships and choose which cannons fired. If you’d rather not experience the game at this granular level, you can auto-resolve the battles — a nice option that’ll no doubt be appreciated by players who wish to watch the events unfold.
Much as the action offers notable depth and variety, this aging affair hardly resembled the glossy screenshots while running on my year-old MacBook Pro, which met the requirements. All graphics options above “Medium” were unavailable, and thus the textures and lighting effects appeared poor. Additionally, the launch version of the game only supports local multiplayer; Game Center support is planned via a patch, but it would have been nice to have had the entire experience there from day one. Still, watching my mighty armies crush my opponents and seeing my empire grow proved a rewarding experience.
The bottom line. Despite some technical issues, Empire: Total War is a solid and mostly historically accurate strategy game that lets you live out your power fantasies.
Empire: Total War — Gold Edition
2GHz Intel processor, OS X 10.7.4 or later, 4GB RAM, 256MB VRAM
Nice mix of turn-based and real-time strategy. Historically accurate map. Naval battles are a blast.
Overlong tutorial. Graphics issues on a capable machine. Multiplayer is local-only at launch.