Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Total War has been my go-to series for re-enacting scenes from Lord of the Rings ever since the movies came out. But… which is best? (Obviously not Rome 2). There's only one way to find out. I shall compare them in a controlled and fair environment. For this I have chosen play as the English and to crush the French, rating how fun it is to do so in each and every game. Of course, this does mean that I may have to skip the Japan-only Shogun titles -and possibly the Warhammer ones- but what's the point in playing a Total War game without the British any way? So today, I'll be trying out Medieval: Total War. The oldest of the series (apart from Shogun), and the very first that I bought. Those were good times: I got it as a combined deal with Morrowind for £30. Pound-for-pound the best deal since I got these TWO DEADLY SHOOTERS for ONE BULLET PROOF PRICE. LET'S BEGIN. Good old Medieval: Total War. It may have been basic but knew it was total war, not a 2% bonus micromanagement simulator. No, this title kept it simple, letting you focus on the things that really mattered. Like invading countries and forcing incestuous family trees. But first things first: before I can think about France, I must first unite my own island. And get used to the controls, which are quite a bit different from the later games. I couldn't work out how to get units to leave their castles for a while, then accidentally got my King stuck in there as well. But with all that figured out, I was ready to take over the world, starting with Wales. The battle would be long and hard. Many men would fall. Equipped with longbowmen and some of the wettest, slipperiest and most miserable hills in the world, they'd rek my armies and delay my attack on France. So I bribed them instead. The plus points of this approach are that I get to keep my own army, PLUS a new one! The down-sides are that it costs 2,000 florins… …and I get Wales. But it's probably best to get some practice of the battles in, so I launched an attack on Scotland, led by the King himself! To maximise my archers' range, I chose to fight when the weather would be clear all day. But remember… this is Britain. Having maximised my chances, now all I had to do was to find the enemy. I found them hidden in the trees. I kind of expected them to jump out at me as I went past them, but they seemed happy camped there, allowing me to gain the high-ground and to launch barrage after barrage of arrows into their ranks, which was a tad hindered by the rain. It took them long enough, but they eventually responded and we became engaged in TOTAL WAR. My foot-soldiers were my major weakness, comprising of peasants who stood no chance against their hardened warriors. But I had horses, and the King himself flanked the enemy and charged into their rears, sandwiching the Scottish. But then another bunch of Scotsmen sandwiched MY horses between them. Things got messy and I tried to get my horses to retreat. But they weren't having any of it. I was honestly expecting my King to die any second. Even though they had a pretty good advantage, having their general die immediately made the rest of them give up and run away, meaning that I had secured the whole of Britain for myself. But a difficult choice lay ahead. Should I, the King of England, be a ruthless dictator, or a fair and just leader? After all, it was I who had invaded their lands so why should they- *Sound of death, destruction and the lamentations of the women* …Onto France. It was truly a blessed day for England. Not only had I secured the island, but the Pope paid me for being a good Christian and my Son came of age, ready to be tossed into the battlefield as cannon fodder! I married him to both of his sisters to ensure the bloodline remained pure, and planned my assault on France. Turns out England used to be pretty awesome and had already taken over most of Western France. The French mostly resided in the East, though strangely also held onto Brittany. Clearly this is the first place I want to attack- though it's guarded by a pretty formidable general. I decided to play it smart for now by reinforcing what I had first by securing everywhere with forts and to research people with actual weapons to be my main foot soldiers. Also, the bloody Welsh were at it again with another, bigger army that I had to deal with. ...but I had a problem. I didn't have enough money to bribe Wales, but also I didn't have a big enough army to comfortably beat them with. So instead, progress slowed to a crawl. I built farms and all that boring-ass-shit instead, spamming the end turn button as my money replenished and then was spent again, over and over. But the time wasn't wasted. I remembered a lot about the game's mechanics. Countries came to me requesting alliances, and in general there was great peace and prosperity across the world… apart from when Germany attacked France and was then excommunicated. That was something I'd have to bear in mind for when I finally decided to attack them myself. This is kind of sad, but being a fan of Lord of the Rings I always made a big effort to ally with Aragon. So of course, I accepted without a moment's notice when they requested it this time. Spamming the end turn button, I knew the clock was ticking. The French would troll me by saying how happy they were, and sadly the King of England eventually died too, replaced by one of his many illegitimate sons. I was eventually rich enough to bribe Wales again, amassing a large and well-equipped army with it. And I prepared for my attack on France. And for now at least, the royal family was doing a good job of keeping their perversions secret. The incest was starting to take effect too as the royal family evolved to the next level! I began researching buildings that could produce exotic units. Or at least, not just your average farmer. I lowered tax rates in far-out regions so I could move their armies to the front line without fear of rebellion. My troops from England landed in Flanders to face the French King's army, while my already-France-based troops teamed up against Brittany. My English troops didn't even get a fight since the French just ran away. But those in Brittany had nowhere to go and a battle broke out between 2 high-ranked armies. I approached them slowly, across the hills. Their 2 almighty ballistas managed an impressive ONE kill before they were overrun and destroyed. With so much Calvary it was easy for me to create a pincer, trapping their army in the middle. The right flank alone could hold its own but it was the left that really pushed them back. At this point it descended into a massive raging brawl. But I was the victor and their army, scattered in all directions. It's kind of hard to see because the controls are SO BAD. But I'm doing my best here, honest! This fight, it wasn't even close. Some of them regrouped and I had to hold my own with just a handful of units while the rest rushed to help from across the battlefield. But they all handled themselves beautifully and I crushed their army, claiming Brittany for my own. But what happened next was even better. Countries from across the world all wrote to me letting me know that they had chosen my side and suddenly the French found themselves very lonely. And to top it all off, the POPE blessed me and my Christian ways and decided that France had some how broken a treaty and that he would no longer be friends with them. Jeez… I kind of felt sorry for them. Poor France. But I had to keep the momentum up! I launched 3 more attacks the following year. The first to lay siege to the castle at Brittany. I auto-resolved this one since it was 2 EZ. The second the French just ran away. But the third became a surprisingly close battle. There was a damn lake in the middle of it and the enemies kept running away. It resulted in my armies being spread too thin, then my generals got caught up in a fight that they didn't want to run from and I ended up losing pretty much all of them. The enemy didn't come off much better. He sent some brave 1-man armies against my urban militia and dealt WAYYY more damage than he should have done. And then the second 1-man army arrived. It was a messy brawl. When my main general fell, those engaged in combat quickly ran away. But luckily my reserve footmen finally made it to the frontline and finished off the stragglers. I had won the battle, but it was a very costly victory. I had secured 3 more provinces and ransomed back important prisoners for a HUGE load of money… but then the Pope decided I had had enough fun and threatened me with excommunication. This meant I had 2 turns to get out of French-owned provinces before the Pope tells the whole of Europe to DESTROY me. And so began another boring period where I built up my armies and shifted them to the front-line, waiting for the excommunication timeout. I began to get some pretty decent units and commanded a siege that I couldn't be bothered to do properly and sustained heavy losses, but here's what such a battle looks like in case you were interested. Admittedly when I agreed to this battle I thought I was the one in the castle, defending against the French. But sadly, that wasn't the case- I don't think they've attacked me once so far. Poor French. They had pimped their fortress out with catapults, ballistas and burning oil which they poured on my army. I lost a decent general amidst the commotion. All in all I think this would have been one of the better battles to have autoresolved. Any way, eventually the Pope forgot about my aggression and I could set to work destroying what looked very much like the final French province, guarded by a decent army and the King himself. What should have been an epic 6,000-strong battle was marred by poor camera controls and trees. Which, when coupled with bugged and sticky- feeling units under my command, made me just ramp up the speed and turn it into a huge bloodbath. The battle raged on but the quality of my troops and the fact that I had like, twice the number, resulted in an easy victory where the French ran away. The French were no more. A once powerful faction, crushed beneath the boots of the English. I had done it in 62 years! Could have done it sooner, I guess. But I chose to play it smart. To pick my battles and to invest in decent units. And to not get excommunicated. This has been Medieval Total War. First released in 2002, it is kind of showing its age. The battles are annoyingly unresponsive and I can appreciate the improvements they've made in more recent titles. I like the difference the quality of the units makes- get a decent soldier and he'll destroy weaker ones. Something I feel has been toned down too much in the newer games. But while the battles feel dated, the campaign map is as fun as it's always been. Diplomacy is lacking. There's not a lot of depth. And autoresolving battles normally means you lose. But there are things this title does well and that the newer games could learn from- most notably, the decisions you make in this game feel meaningful and you see the consequences of them just minutes later. Future Total War games slow to a crawl and you've normally forgotten what decisions you made before they start to pay off. Plus, the buildings you can have in this one feel like stuff you want to build! Build a castle? It looks like a castle for the rest of the game and really helps in sieges! Get a decent sword making place? You're rewarded with REALLY good units well before everywhere else does. I love this and have had many great stories to tell after just a few hours of gameplay. Plus the family trees are awesome. I give this game 7/10.