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Total War: Attila preview: Total, brutal, unrelenting war

Hayden Dingman | Jan. 16, 2015
Despite the foreboding name, for years I've played every entry in the Total War series in much the same way I play its strategy game cousin Civilization. I putter around for fifty or so turns creating an empire--making sure my citizens are happy, investing in various cultural milestones, and just all-around building something where these entirely fictional people go "Oh wow, did you hear about that city? I wish I lived there instead of this miserable hellhole on the other side of the map."

Despite the foreboding name, for years I've played every entry in the Total War series in much the same way I play its strategy game cousin Civilization. I putter around for fifty or so turns creating an empire — making sure my citizens are happy, investing in various cultural milestones, and just all-around building something where these entirely fictional people go "Oh wow, did you hear about that city? I wish I lived there instead of this miserable hellhole on the other side of the map."

Not in Total War: Attila. This game gives no quarter. More than any other entry in the series, Total War: Attila is about...well, waging total war.

Et tu, Visigoths?

It's 390 AD, there's a grand party known as "The Fall of Rome," and everyone's invited. Even you. You just have to choose a side.

You can don your maroon and gold skirt and try to save Rome. Both the Western and Eastern Roman Empires are available, and the two are by far the biggest factions in the game. Like, enormous. Rome is a besieged shadow of its former glory, but it's not going down without a fight — even if that fight is a bit like trying to steer the Titanic away from a glacier.

Then there's the titular Attila and his Hunnic Empire, crossing the land on horseback and leaving destruction in its wake.

And then there are the various barbarian tribes, some on horseback, some on foot, but all looking for a piece of the ol' Roman Empire. Everybody has to have some place they call home, even if it used to be someone else's home instead. Out of some sort of blood loyalty, I signed on to lead the lowly Saxons. In 390 AD the Saxons haven't even reached England yet. In fact, that's your first goal.

Starting the game, I've got the Angles to the north, Romans to the south, Franks to the west, and jolly ol' England a bit further west. And it's here I find out what differentiates Attila from past Total War games. The game pops up a warning as soon as I start:

"They made ready for war," it says. It's my first campaign directive, with multiple factions gunning for me.

"Sounds good," I think. I start my research queue with a military technology, Regional Defense Force. I build an Artisan in my city of Tulifurdum. I move my initial garrison of troops northward a bit to look menacing towards those damn Angles. I assign one cousin or another to govern Tulifurdum in my absence. And then, with the satisfied sigh of a ruler who is patiently guiding his men towards glory, I end my turn.

 

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