A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Napoleon: Total War is a real-time strategy game with some profanity, moderate violence, sexual themes, and open online text chatting. It’s focus is to create an accurate interactive depiction of famous French general Napoleon Bonaparte and the governments, economies, and military tactics of his time. Battles generally take place from a bird’s eye view, where we see hundreds of soldiers firing cannons, shooting muskets, and slashing swords. There is no blood, save a small amount seen in one of the game’s cutscenes. The characters talk about sex and alcohol in general terms, but nothing is shown on screen. It’s a complex and challenging experience; definitely not for strategy game rookies (unless they have patience to suffer through long tutorials and many initial defeats as they learn the ropes). Note, too, that the game facilitates open text chat between players. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children twelve and under.
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What's it about?
A game of tactics based on the military campaigns conducted by France’s most famous general, NAPOLEON: TOTAL WAR is broken into two distinct parts: a turn-based module that has players controlling their nation and armies on a grand scale, and a real-time strategy element that allows players direct command over either ground or sea units as they wage battle against enemy armies. The former feels just a little like Sid Meier’s Civilization games, providing you the ability to research technologies, conduct diplomatic negotiations, recruit armies, and move them around a large world map. The latter gives players a high level of control over army and armada tactics, including the ability to choose specific formations, select weapon and ammunition types, and move individual groups around the battle map. New for the series, players can now hop online and take control of one of the factions in another player’s campaign.
Is it any good?
Napoleon: Total War provides an excellent level of historical detail. Creative Assembly has provided lengthy, well written descriptions about authentic units, structures, and personalities of the time. What’s more, the tactics employed during battle are highly believable. Players move their soldiers, cavalries, and ships in historically accurate formations and at believable speeds. And it’s just as fun as it is realistic. Turn-based play is slow, but also intricate and demanding as you try to keep the citizenry happy while conquering new lands. The battles, meanwhile, can be hectic. They reward the clever and swift of mind; even greatly outnumbered forces can win with the right tactics.
However, it takes time to learn these strategies. The tutorials are great, but they just touch the tip of the iceberg. It will take hours for rookies to achieve any significant level of success. Still, that’s not a criticism so much as a caution that this is a very challenging game. That just means victory, when achieved, is all the sweeter.
Online interaction: Players can go up against one another online. Open text chat is supported so what kids will experience can be unpredicatable and perhaps, offensive. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children under 12 years of age.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about historical games and their value as educational tools. Do you think that games like this can legitimately supplement other forms of learning? Or does its unpredictable battle outcomes ruin any potential pedagogy?
Families can also discuss whether complex historical games that strive for accuracy need be so challenging. Does the level of detail in a game like this necessitate a steeper learning curve, or is there some way developers could make it more accessible to genre rookies?