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Empire: Total War- PC.

Just to get this out of the way first: Empire: Total War is staggering. It’s a deeper and more intricate experience than the previous games and the new era of war is a refreshing change. What I want to talk about, however, are the new regions.

In the beginning, with Shogun: Total War, the conquest of a region was decided with one battle. The invading side moved its chess piece of an army onto the target area, and if they won they assumed full control. This changed with the release of Rome: Total War. The campaign map went from a risk-style 2D board to a 3D playing field, and as well as introducing the ability to take advantage of chokepoints, such as mountain passes and rivers, the capital of each region (represented by a city on the map) needed to be captured to seize the territory.

Now, this is how it works in the latest Total War game, but, as with many things in Empire, there’s a little bit more to it now. As well as a capital city, there are towns scattered throughout each region. This is where all of the agricultural and industry buildings are constructed, and what you do with your limited number of town slots will have a big effect on a region. Port towns, for example, can focus on fishing (for growth, and more taxes), trade (for a stupid amount of trade income from overseas allies), or naval construction (for building that all powerful navy).

Instead of tying all of the buildings and income of a region to the capital, most of it is now spread out across the area, and this presents a broader range of options for the attacking side. Instead of just causing “devastation” damage by being sat on enemy territory, units can, amongst other things, intercept land trade routes, stop research and industry production, or starve the population and affect growth by raiding farmland.
What this means is that, while taking the capital is still the only way to gain control of a region in its entirety, small armies, and even single units, can have a drastic effect on a region by pillaging, or even capturing, enemy towns. This then encourages the defender to spread their forces around their most valuable assets, rather than just sitting everything inside the capital walls waiting for a siege.

What I like about this is that it forces a reaction from the enemy (or me) as they send out forces to engage the raiding parties, which leads to more minor skirmishes occurring than before. It opens up a whole new avenue for harassment, ambushes, and distraction; and more options are always a good thing.

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