reviews\ Jul 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Napoleon: Total War – The Peninsular Campaign review


The most recent title in The Creative Assembly’s long-running Total War franchise, Napoleon: Total War, is an era-spanning real-time strategy title that follows Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia in the early 19th century. You fight for or against the French leader’s military conquests, utilizing a blend of military power, foreign allegiances, and sabotage in order to take over parts of the map. The game provided a phenomenal amount of depth, albeit one with a few flaws, including poor AI and stifling linearity.

This latest expansion, The Peninsular Campaign, does little to correct the mistakes of its predecessor, or even the series as a whole. The expansion adds in a new 32 region map ripe for conquest and some new units. Aside from a narrower sense of focus in the new military-oriented campaign, this expansion doesn’t add a whole lot to the formula established by its predecessor. However, the expansion does succeed in giving fans more of what they could want.

Following in the thundering, world-conquering boot-steps of Napoleon: Total War, The Peninsular Campaign follows the struggle for control of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, which encompasses Spain and Portugal. While Spain is now a playable faction, the Portuguese remain under AI control. The Spanish join the existing playable factions, the French and the British, bringing the total up to three.

The Peninsular Campaign adds some new units to the game, including guerilla battlefield units. These units are particularly intriguing, as they are essentially invisible until moved, lurking outside of your army’s set zone and waiting for the right time to strike against approaching units. This is one of the coolest elements that the expansion has to offer, letting you add traps to your strategic repertoire when taking on marching enemies. You also have other new units, the guerillero, provocateur, and priest, which are capable of sabotaging your enemy’s citizenry by promoting civil unrest from within.

The expansion puts you in a very specific part of the map, which is a double-edged sword to the new campaign. On the plus side, the narrow scope gives the game some focus, allowing you to play some short (well, shorter) battles and missions that keep the action consistent and the pace solid. On the negative side, the expansion neglects some of the more diplomatic and trade-oriented objectives that were offered in the original game. You won’t be able to have the free-range of foreign relations in this expansion, which instead chooses to focus primarily on combat and conquest throughout the Iberian Peninsula.

This expansion doesn’t offer anything particularly game-changing, instead giving you more of what you would want as a fan of the game, namely a new campaign map, new units, and a host of new missions. The limited scope of the storyline does provide some focus and solid pacing, but comes at a price of some of the base game’s non-military features.


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