Social Class: Total War

Social Class: Total War

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My spleen began to swell when I read that Empire: Total War’s elite units – for which Creative Assembly tactically charges an extra ¬£5 to receive – would feature in multiplayer. I’m now overflowing with bilious fluids, in desperate need of a draining. Listen to my complaints, dear doctor, and distract me long enough to syringe my sensitive spots.

Now, admittedly, my fury has been inflamed by a simple forum post, but that’s the kind of solid-sourcing you’ll have come to expect of from this select repository of scrawling. You’ll have noted that ‘mriguy’ officiously placed his quote within a box, which is more than enough to impress upon me the value of its authenticity.

It’s no-doubt anathema to fellow cheapskates that we should have to pay extra for goodies that’re already wrapped and under the tree on the big day, yet Creative Assembly aren’t exactly forcing their reassuringly un-sock-like pressie upon us, so it essentially boils down to individual choice whether we’d like to tear open the wrapping and get ripped off. However, I might have had one too many sherries, but I think I’m perfectly justified in throwing a strop over the inclusion of these extra units in multiplayer – an arena in which skills ought to be tested, not overdrafts.

These are the elite units in question – they’re deservingly named – each an example of the best that the engineering and killingsmanship of the time had to offer; yet even if they’re balanced like a Napoleonic bonnet – making use of small platoon sizes or high unit cost, Creative Assembly are still introducing an Austro-Hungarian army knife into the rock-paper-scissors of simulated warfare. Some clever people say that the reason we see so many species successfully surviving in the wild is that they’re diverse enough to take advantage of specific opportunities. If the elite units march onto multiplayer, we’ll observe evolution in action – as some of our species take advantage of the diversity of tactics and ‘sploderisation their extra five pounds will have unlocked. I can’t exactly blame the devs for offering different packages to different excited children, but I take issue when these kids are thrust into a deadly dual, with one possessing a clear advantage.

I mash my sprouts when I think of what Creative Assembly is essentially doing – taking advantage of the ill-informed. There’s a loving and active modding community out there whom I’m certain as a wet flintlock fails to spark will have accurate approximations of the elite units developed and available for recruitment before the first snow. It’s those without internet connections or faith in mod that’ll lose out, and Creative Assembly will receive a donation for their new roof instead of an ISP or member of the Church of Slightly-Improved Texture Files.

If I wasn’t so hugely excited about Empire then I’d refuse to buy it. I encourage any of you not convinced by the series to keep your doubloons stowed, or perhaps buy a more detailed portrayal of a similar era by buying one of Paradox Interactive’s games – Europa Universalis 3 or Victoria. I want to marry Paradox.

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