Total War is my favourite RTS franchise and I have fond memories of the many historical and not so historical battles in Medieval II: Total War. I spent whole weekends conquering France or trying to fend of the Mongols in their attempt to invade Europe. But is it as good as I remembered it or did I only play it because I could not bear to play Rome Total War any more?
From Alexander to a nagging Pope
I read a book about Alexander the Great when I was 14 and became so interested in ancient history (and especially warfare) that I recently got my bachelors degree in Ancient History. More importantly: Because of that book I really got into Rome Total War. Naturally I moved on to Medieval Total War II when it came out, but in my memory it was not as great as its Roman predecessor.
Medieval Total War had great new features: More advanced diplomacy, castles and the nagging senate had been replaced with a nagging pope. For a game from 2006 not game changing features, but I was content with the little change it made to the RTS series.
Medieval Total War engine
MTW uses the same engine as RTW but looks much better than its little brother: shiny shields, bright coloured knights, forests that remind me of Oblivion and extensive detailed cities even make my current pc having troubles when I let the game go full throttle. Although some say it is because of my lousy pc hat I cannot run a game from 2006 on ultra settings, I stand by my previous statement that the Medieval simulator looks very pretty for its age.
The diplomacy is what triggered me most in MTW, the fact that you can receive a mission to help a lesser noble usurp its currents king’s throne was mind blowing for my 2006-self. It fuelled my interest in regicides and eventually made me put many hours in MTW diplomacy. I also think this laid a foundation for my love for Crusader Kings, that I discovered much later.
Medieval Total War is not all knight in shining amor: I do not care for the whole religion/pope mechanic. I tried during my replay to invest in befriending the pope and fight his crusades but often found it conflicting with my personal goals. I therefore just ignored the whole catholic church and found out that excommunication isn’t that bad! It’s like the mandatory talks to weird uncles on birthdays; they always forget how old you are or what you study, just go away. It is nice. peaceful.
During my peaceful warmongering I conquered many castles and towns and that is where Medival Total War excels: the battlefield mechanics are superb. Shooting big fat stone walls to pieces with trebuchets is also good fun. Creative Ensemble took everything they did right in Barbarian invasion to the Medieval battlefields and took it to the next level.
Anno 2016 Medieval Total War II is still a very interesting game, even if you have no nostalgic feelings for the game whatsoever. If I have to be honest, I believe that it even holds up better than the first Rome Total War. The only thing wrong with Medieval Total War II is it’s Medieval setting and that it has no reference to Alexander in it, but if you do not have a obsession with a king from Macedon, you are probably going to have a great time conquering Europe and having quarrels with the Pope.