Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion

By Scott Parrino 05 May 2003 0

Introduction

The Total War game system is unparalleled for elegantly combining turn-based national strategy play with continuous-time tactical combat. Shogun led the way by presenting a campaign environment where seven roughly equivalent feudal lords each competed to conquer the islands of Japan with one ascending to become supreme ruler or "Shogun". While the campaign game would appear to be ideal for multiplayer campaigns (and resolving resulting conflicts on the tactical battlefield), the Shogun campaign game was restricted to single player mode against AI opponents. Shogun multiplayer was thus limited to individual battles between two players. The Mongol Invasion expansion further enriched the Shogun game experience with new units and an additional adversary bent on invasion and conquest rather than building an infrastructure capable of fielding mass armies. Again, multiplayer campaigns were hoped for by gamers but still not delivered in the Shogun: Total War - The Mongol Invasion expansion. 

Medieval: Total War moved the sphere of conflict to the Middle Ages on the expansive Eurasian and North African landmass and further enriched the Total War play experience with siege engines and more robust castle designs than previously seen in Shogun. Many empires can clash in Medieval and players may play various kingdoms and empires from three distinct periods of history. The expansion for Medieval, named Viking Invasion, now focuses solely on the British Isles, during the time period after the departure of the Roman Empire (~793 AD), and concluding roughly at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 between the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons. 

While the previous Medieval campaigns (Early, High, Late) began in the second millennia, the Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion expansion covers most of the post-Roman first millennia. In the existing Medieval: Total War campaigns, England is represented as a fairly homogenous single entity. Rolling the historical clock back several centuries, the Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion expansion now portrays England as a group of islands divided into warring factions, who are each trying to conquer the competition and fend off seaborne attacks by barbaric invaders. Sound familiar? Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion now seems a lot more like playing Shogun than Medieval so it should give Shogun and Mongol Invasion players what they enjoyed in the past. 

Viking Invasion Campaign

Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion installs into the existing Medieval folder and updates the game to add one new campaign and new unit types. The Viking Invasion campaign presents a new map solely focused on the British Isles (Britain, Wales, Ireland, Shetlands, and a bit of Nordic coast), which are divided into the provinces from antiquity. Players play from the perspective of Saxons, Picts, Mercians, Northumbrians, Irish, Scots, Welsh, or Viking Invaders (who don't start with an infrastructure) in a campaign. Each faction has unique units and resources and player strategies will vary based on the faction's capabilities and its spatial relationship to its opponents. The Viking Invasion campaign is a great "free for all" to play and, like the Shogun campaign, worth playing each of the factions just to see how they differ.

Vikings Invasion now makes playing Medieval: Total War more like playing the Shogun: Total War campaign game, with an island map and numerous factions warring for supremacy of the land. The terrain is also very reminiscent of various sections of Japan, with mountainous highland terrains in the Northern provinces. The threat of invasion and conquest from an external enemy is also very similar to the environment of the Shogun: Total War - The Mongol Invasion.

However, the most revolutionary thing about the Viking Invasion expansion is the fact that the "Viking Invasion" campaign game can now be played in a true multiplayer environment on GameSpy with up to four human players. This is very cool news and will certainly be cause for great excitement throughout the Total War gaming world. However, since I was playing with a preview copy of the game, it was not possible for me to find some other players on GameSpy who have the expansion version of the game. 

Retraction: Activision and The Creative Assembly have since informed us that Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion will not be supporting full campaign play online as stated in the paragraph above.  Although the author based his information on press materials and noted he was unable to confirm this through play, this feature will in fact not be found in any copies of the game.  The Wargamer regrets any confusion which this erroneous information may have caused. -Editor

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