We've said it before and we'll say it again, 'If it isn't broke, then don't fix it'?, and in this case what isn't broke is Total War's latest incarnation Medieval II. Boasting an impressive selection of 'historically accurate'? armies and a gameplay mode that spans 400 years, this is the strategy game that many have been waiting to dig their teeth into.
Now that is saying a mouthful and those nice folks over at Sega and The Creative Assembly have managed to produce a game that can play on a wide berth of systems and still make it relatively easy on the eyes. In other words the graphics are probably not going to knock your socks off as there is nothing new and so visually impressive that it will become the benchmark standard for real time strategy games, no, it's a game that produces very adequate graphics considering what it must do. Armies of hundreds if not thousands can be seen rampaging on screen as you attempt to move beyond an opponents defenses. Take out the strategically important parts of a castle first (like the towers) and you can cripple a defense. It looks pretty good and the beefier the system you have the smoother everything shall unfold.
But since the thought is also on maintaining a strong economic kingdom you must attend to the business of trading and merchant guilds, making good with the Pope and his sometimes demanding requests and the occasional crusade or two. It's a fairly wide thinking strategy sim with as much thought going into war as there is politics. Sadly some of these other ideas aren't realized to their fullest potential but it doesn't deter from the game's entertainment value.
I can't help but stammer about how much stuff happens in this title and how the game does a good job of letting you control the chaos if you will. Spies, multi-national battles, the occasional betrayed alliance, diplomats, heavily armored soldiers riding on horseback, and even later in the span, the emergence of muskets and powerful ranged weaponry.
Yes, Medieval II is a game that probably should be in your PC as you attempt to rule the known world in 400 years or less. This is epic gaming on the grandest scale, I hope you have saved some of your vacation time, because you are gonna need every moment of it.