Game Review: Total War: Attila

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Review:

After the very disappointing Total War: Rome 2 the Total War series has a lot to prove but does Attila show that the Total War series still has it? Oh yes. Oh yes indeed!

The end is nigh for the Roman Empire with Attila set during the rise of (you’ve guessed it) Attila The Hun and the last days of a decaying Roman empire (or empires sort of…). Rome has become weak after hundreds of years fighting barbarians and itself and to the east the greatest threat to man rises as the Hunnic hordes grow in a quest to conquer the entire globe and give the Romans a really hard time. Well that’s the story, pretty average but then again strategy games aren’t really known for their storytelling are they? Though you do get the sense that Creative Assembly really did try to make an engaging overarching narrative even if it doesn’t really work. Throughout the campaign they try and make you fear the rise of Attila and dread every coming year but truth be told I have 71 hours and I have never seen a Hun. But it really doesn’t bother and ill explain why.

In my first play through I started as the Saxons mainly because this guy looked cool:

Dat Axe Dough!
The map doesn’t look like much but believe me every step is a struggle!

“Do you see how big that fucking axe is? I bet that’ll make a few orphans” I thought as I chose the Saxon path and sealed my entry into hell. So anyway I started the campaign and completely ignoring the Attila bit of the game I set out to do whatever I wanted which being British meant nicking my homeland off those pesky Romans, Celts and Vikings who probably had more claim to Britain than I did. I Couldn’t really care less about the mission it gave me which was something incredibly vague like survive for twenty years! The British invasion however was nowhere close to being as easy as I thought it would. I remembered the days of Empire Total War when Britain was literally three or four territories and could be conquered pretty quickly with a bit of elbow grease but boy have things changed! Britain is now made of about twelve regions each with heavily fortified angry people who don’ like Saxons very much. And so started a campaign that has brought me mainly joy and a hell of a lot of tears. If there’s one thing to note about Attila it’s that its one difficult game. Every battle is a struggle and one unit can make a difference which is what I love about it. Best laid plans can turn to dust all because you overlooked one tiny detail that came from behind and took a nasty bite out of your arse. This is realism. Nothing ever goes perfect for any military campaign and that’s what I disliked about some Total Wars where as long as you had a good defensive line everything was fine you could plug away at an enemy for days with rifles or arrows but not in Attila. The A.I will flank you, charge you, throw fireballs at you, throw spears at you, throw rocks at you and make your fights feel like they should: difficult, bloody and an uphill struggle against overwhelming odds (a bit like me in the bedroom but anyway) Basically, the combat is fun and that’s all anyone can ask of a game so well done Attila for making a game that is actually fun to play, a real rarity these days.

There’s a pretty good choice of factions to choose from as well although some seem quite interchangeable.  There are seven overarching faction types and to be honest all the factions under the same type are very similar. For example, here is a picture of a Frank:

Dose axes dough… wait a minute haven’t i seen you already?

Compare it to the Saxon from earlier. Can you spot the differences? basically the axes are smaller and the mask is gone and that’s about it. Both are barbarian kingdoms that love axes. Still the different factions are all fun to play as and offer interesting new viewpoints and challenges and are all well worth a try and there is a big difference between Celts and Romans so there is variation but sometimes its lost.

You know the plan boys! Fuck ’em from behind!

New features to Attila include hordes which is where a faction has no regions and just roams around devouring everything in their path with a super huge army making my life miserable, legendarily difficult starts – good luck maintain the Western Roman Empire you’ll probably die after a few turns!, and simultaneous land and sea assaults. This is a brilliant but also very painful mechanic. Nothing’s worse than setting out brilliant defences only for a fleet of long boats to come from an odd angle and destroy you. But it does make for great fun and challenging battles. The only aspect of gameplay I actually dislike is the difficulty in maintaining a region. The peasants are never happy and will revolt in great force very easily and disease outbreak is very likely. I suppose these add more realism and challenge but I think its too over the top, peasants would probably not rebel five times in row after having to crawl over their fallen comrades to reach the capital unless they are a) really dumb or b) masochists.

Overall, I have to recommend Attila, its got to be one of the best games in the Total War franchise and next to Rome 2 it looks like Angelina Jolie next to the Elephant man. So if your up to the challenge sharpen your axes, grab your shields and assume a spear wall formation because shit’s about to get real!

Is anyone else chilly? No? Just me then.

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