“…exactly what you want from a continuation of an already on-point series…”
Total War: ATTILA is the most recent addition to the epic strategy series by the masters of historical warfare at The Creative Assembly. For the first time ever, Total War turns its focus towards the Hunnic Campaign of the legendary king and warrior Attila the Hun. Attila’s rule spanned across a large portion of the 5th Century and saw conquests across the continents of Europe and Asia during this period. The game then has plenty of ground to cover, some of which it has touched on before and some completely new, in order to bring to life this next epic title.
For fans of the Total War games, it is quite easy to sum up Attila as a part of it. Essentially, it takes the traditional, successful model of its predecessors, relays it with this new skin, tweaks certain parts of it in order to fit the period and focus of the game, and creates a few minor additional features and improvements to ice the cake. The game can be closely compared to Total War: Rome II in terms of its basic mechanics and the look and style of play. Graphically there has been some improvements (which have been heavily publicised by the developers and which we will come onto later in the review), and of course the new subject of the game means an overhaul of troop classes, styles, environments, buildings, research and workings of the family tree in the turn-based empire management sections of the game too. But everything can still be found where you usually find it, everything still works in the same way as it always has, and if you are a fan of the series it will take you no time at all to get into ATTILA.
As a game in its own right then, and to those of you who are not so familiar with Total War as a series, ATTILA still holds a lot of prowess as a strategy title. Total War is a series which has always prided itself on big battles, allowing you to take not a hundred but hundreds of soldiers into battle. You control these soldiers unit by unit, giving in depth individual orders to each; right down to the formations they march in or the type of arrows they fire. The games have always attempted to create strategy warfare on a grander scale than others, and ATTILA is no exception to that rule. With huge battlefields, massive armies and a genuine need for real-time strategic thinking in the way you carry out an attack, ATTILA like its most recent predecessor Rome II is the pinnacle of Total War’s combat gameplay. The way you use the battlefield, from hills to terrain to cover to space can change the tide of a battle. When you use your troops and how you use them is crucial to victory, and your enemies will adapt just as quickly as you do in order to try and seal the battle’s fate. You can even go so far as to wait until the opportune weather conditions for your army are met before you launch you siege on an opponent’s cities. In short, Total War ATTILA still manages to create perhaps the best, most spectacular battlefield simulation that the games industry has to offer.
If that hasn’t sold the game to all of you strategy fans out there, then you probably want to hear some more about the finer details involved in Total War ATTILA. One clear adaptation made to this entry in the series is the troop classes on offer. This is the first time that Total War has taken an intricate focus on the Germanic Tribes and Hunnic conquests of the 5th Century, and thus the armies on offer are fresh and carefully designed to meet the needs of this new arena. Every tribe or civilisation in the game has its own, carefully styled units, each with its own strengths, weaknesses and specialties. It is up to you to learn how to use these, both as individual units on the battlefield and as a combined force in your army. No unit is perfect, and none is good at every job that you will need doing out there in the warzone. What every single one is however is historically informed and accurate, and for any fan of this period of history, playing the game with this having been a major focus of the developers will be nothing less than a pleasure. If you value history, and want to play an informed strategy game which makes you feel as though you are a part of it, as well as giving you the chance to experience and change it, then Total War has always been the right place for you to be. ATTILA stands true to this claim as strongly as every other Total War before it!
When you aren’t getting down and dirty in a fight, Total War ATTILA becomes a turn-based strategy, where you have to manage your empire. Whether you are a small tribe or a great nation, you still have to manage the same basic concerns. Keeping a positive economy, maintaining social stability, pushing development to improve your settlements, adapting to the needs of the civilisation through research, managing a strong and trustworthy government and strengthening and improving your armies all come into play in ATTILA. Imagine Sid Meier’s Civilisation with real-time, mindblowingly-realistic military conflicts between turns, and that is pretty much what is on offer here. You will have to make the important decisions such as which member of your family or trusted advisors should be your next general, whether you need to focus your research on social or strategic needs, and whether you need a farm more than you need a barracks in your city. It is a lot to think about, but these are the kind of dilemmas that a leader would have had to focus on during these days. Total War could so easily have been just a fancy battle simulator, but this management of your empire is what makes it a complete package which is worthy of its place amongst the greats in the strategy arena.
Any problems with Total War ATTILA? Not a lot to speak of no! The only two things which are a little less good than the rest of the game are long standing issues which I have had with the Total War series, and so they may just be me, but here they are. One is the camera. Moving the camera requires you to use the mouse and keyboard and sometimes both, and to do what should be such a simple thing turns into quite the task at times. When you are mixed up in the drama of a battle, you don’t need to be messing around in this area, especially when the battlefields are so big that you spend a lot of time manoeuvring the camera around them. The other issue is just a lot of ominous buttons to learn on screen, which if you can’t remember all of the icons for you can spend a long while hovering over them and waiting for the UI to tell you what it is. Otherwise the game has very few issues, and despite being very mechanically similar to Total War: Rome II, it actually improves upon some of the bugs present there as well. So for a title which for the most part could be considered a re-painted version of its predecessors, ATTILA does plenty enough right for you to ignore that and still fully enjoy it as a fresh, new and exciting title. And unlike too many new AAA titles of late, it actually works very well too, so what’s not to like there!
Whether you are new to the Total War series or a long-term fan, Total War: ATTILA has a lot to offer any gamer who is a lover of the strategy genre. If you are worried about getting used to its numerous workings and mechanics, then worry no longer, as the game has an in-depth tutorial integrated into story gameplay, and one which doesn’t feel like you are a fool who is learning to jump and walk forwards for the first time too! You can get to grips with things pretty quick, but should you need further help or forget how to do something later, the fully integrated Total War encyclopaedia will help you figure things out! From there you just follow the missions set out for you and lead your empire to greatness! Of course, if you would rather just scrap a bit, the game allows for that in its skirmish mode too, so whether it is context or simply action you are after, ATTILA offers you the best of both worlds in a superb fashion. You don’t even have to worry about outgrowing the game either, because as I briefly touched on earlier the game has been future proofed. What does that mean? It means that the extreme setting in the game’s graphics has been designed with hardware more powerful than that which is currently on the market in mind. How cool is that! Kudos to The Creative Assembly there for thinking about the gamer!
So, is Total War: ATTILA a good strategy game? Yes. Is it a good Total War game? Hell yes! In fact, Total War: ATTILA is a great game altogether. It builds on an already successful franchise by staying true to a system which works and which fans across the globe love, and manages to bring that system into a whole new setting whilst making it work perhaps better than ever once again. In essence, Total War has remained the same, but ATTILA still feels like something new, which is exactly what you want from a continuation of an already on-point series like this one. As long as you are prepared to dedicate the long hours required by ATTILA’s gameplay style in the story mode and get around the learning curve of questionable cameras and numerous ominous buttons, you are in for a great time with this excellent strategy title from an ever outstanding series!
- Another strong addition to the Total War series, staying true to the proven-to-work model of its predecessors whilst adding its own, fresh swing on things.
- Fantastic strategy gameplay both on and off the battlefield make the game an all-inclusive strategy package which can be enjoyed by any strategy gamer.
- No exception to the visually stunning and in-depth battles which have long been the trademark of the Total War series.
- Some cool future-proofing being boasted by developers shows they are on the gamers’ side; no need for any HD remakes down the line here!
- The camera is as difficult to manoeuvre as it has always been.
- Lots of ominous buttons and actions create quite the learning curve for the Total War newbie to overcome.
- You will spend/lose many hours of your life to this game – but maybe that’s not such a bad thing!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.