The Alien franchise has had a bit of a rocky recent past what with the poorly received Colonial Marines from last year and a downward spiral in the movies as well. Things might be taking a turn for the better though as Sega today announced Alien: Isolation to a string of rave previews all over the web.
Reading the tales those writers had from their short demo at developers the Creative Assembly had me in shivers earlier… …
Sun Tzu has very little to say about attacking an entrenched force that holds high ground, consists of greater numerical superiority and contains elephants, chariots and what can only be described as ‘great balls of fire.’ What he does say about the matter basically boils down to ‘don’t bother.’
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.
The Redcoats are Going (to be better than Hastati)
The introduction of gunpowder caused a paradigm shift in the world of journalism – felt most gropingly in the distance from which news can be launched. Though the announcement of a demo for Empire: Total War was explosively propelled from Shacknews’ battery yesterday, the impact has only just been felt at The Reticule – with some of us literally reduced to bloody stumps, such is the extent of our excitement. The title for Shacknews’ shed sharing was Empire: Total War Demo Coming Tomorrow, so it is with caddish grins that we can announce Empire: Total War Demo Coming Today At 4PM GMT OMG! We’ll aim to update this story once the top brass become aware of a structurally sound pontoon bridge linking us to the download. Report back here after tea time with affixed bayonets.
TR’s resident cleverclogs Sebastiaan provided us with more details:
Giving you a taste of the epic engagements that you’ll be experiencing from 3rd March, the demo will take you through the basics of land and naval command and then unleash you in two historical battles!
You will get to play as the mighty British Empire as they do battle against the Americans in the ‘Battle of Brandywine Creek’ and then take on the French Navy in the ‘Battle of Lagos’…
Battle of Brandywine Creek
After landing from his transport ships on the American coast, Major-General Sir William Howe led the British troops eastwards, with the intention of capturing Philadelphia.
In preparation, American General George Washington readied most of his units to defend from this frontal assault around the narrow crossing of Chad’s Ford on the Brandywine. The Creek flows through the countryside of Pennsylvania, enveloped by sheer cliffs and heavily wooded hills on both sides. Safe in the knowledge the fast flowing creek could not easily be crossed; Washington was confident of holding his position.
However, more detailed surveillance of the terrain would suggest that alternative routes could turn the battle in the favour of the British.
Battle of Lagos
As so often in 18th Century warfare, French plans to invade England during the Seven Years War were reliant on ships from the naval base at Toulouse joining ships from Brest. The British had both ports blockaded, and the French had to wait for one of the blockading fleets to withdraw for re-supply before attempting any rendezvous.
The opportunity came when the British fleet under Admiral Boscawen at Toulon withdrew to Gibraltar. The French under Jean-François de la Clue-Sabran left Toulon, and began to make their way towards Brest. Passing the Straits of Gibraltar, the French were spotted by Boscawen’s lookout ships.
Giving chase, Boscawen’s fleet was only slightly larger than the French force, and caught up with them off the coast of Portugal where battle was joined. Take control of the British and defeat the French to end the invasion threat to Britain.
We hope that you enjoy playing our demo, which will give you a small taste of Empire: Total War action in preparation to leading your own empire to victory in March!
Rather odd that we’ll play as the British in both engagements – especially since The Creative Assembly are aiming at an American audience. I wonder why the land map didn’t place us in the monumental boots of Washington.We’ll find out, no doubt, the next time Sebastiaan graces us with a comment.
Edit: The demo is live. Time to give Steam’s servers a beating chaps. For England!
The Total War games are ones that have come to define PC gaming, since the release of Shogun in 2000, this series has interwoven both grand turn-based strategy and awe inspiring real-time fights in majestic fashion. The next instalment in the series; Empire: Total War (due for release in March) promises to do the same, but what can we expect to see after this?
Will developers The Creative Assembly revisit an earlier game, perhaps a new Shogun or Rome? I say no, all signs point towards the next game being based in the modern era, the 20th Century seems right. The new engine for Empire features naval battles and all-out rifle warfare, both of which are defining characteristics of anything major conflict since World War One.
Further support for this theory comes from Mike Brunton, someone who has worked on every Total War game as a writer and designer. In a piece by Jim Rossignol (PC Gamer 197) which analyses the history of the Total War games Brunton gives us a hint of what to expect.
“Let’s just say we have some staff that have tiny joygasms over Tamiya and Trumpeter plastic tank kits and leave it at that. We won’t be able to restrain them forever.”
It is surely fair to say that there is a strong likelihood of the next game from The Creative Assembly bringing us into the modern era; they have a game engine that can deal with the combat and a team that has some strange fantasies about plastic tanks. What more of a hint do we need?
Though many of the machinations of capitalism seem cryptic to us non-corporate types, something we can understand is that a non-material product costs less to produce than something that involves smelting and a team of dwarves. Whosoever’s responsible for the pricing of Steam games must think we’re idiots, or we’re unfamiliar with the concept of money – cave communists. £39.99 for Empire: Total War! We engineers are shovelling wads of cash into the Steam engine, yet the output seems miserably meagre. Today, I demand transparency from game publishers. I want to see through Creative Assembly’s frock.