One of my favourite games of last year was Creative a*embly and Activision’s Medieval Total War, the second game in the Total War series. With the game doing rather well at retail, Creative a*embly have naturally created an expansion pack for the strategy title.Going by the name of Medieval Total War: The Viking Invasion, this is a more focused new campaign that covers the British Isles and the Nordic Viking regions which are situated on the edge of the game map. The game premise is exactly the same as the original game, build your forces, research through the tech tree and go on a jaunt across territories capturing them to acquire wealth and ultimately dominate the region. The game time span also differs from the original game with the new campaign playing out from the year 793 A.D. Although the British Isles were included in the original game the scope is now larger and more regionalised with the island being split into English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish regions, not to mention the Viking regions of Hordaland and Jutland in the north east of the campaign area.With the areas being more localised, Viking Invasion features 8 playable factions which you can choose from at the start of the campaign, the Vikings, Scots, Irish, Mercians, Northumbrians, Picts, Welsh and Saxons. While the idea of playing on a smaller area may sound limiting, trust me it’s not, with so many regions and factions all fighting for domination over a smaller geographical region the game is just as challenging as the original.The tech and building tree has also changed somewhat due to the change in historical timeline with new units appropriate the historical age. With the new faction of the Viking’s there’s new Viking units such as the Viking Raiders, the Viking Carl to name a couple and of course the numerous Viking ships. No Viking nation would be complete without a decent fleet of ships to transport their warriors across the sea to pillage and there’s a lot more emphasis on troop moving across the water which gives the Vikings real freedom of movement around the British Isles, ideal for some nasty surprise attacks. The Vikings are not the only side with units that will be unfamiliar to season players, each of the other seven factions also has their own set of era-specific units. Many buildings are also different to fit in with the game, Warrior Holds, Drinking Halls and the all important Brothel, which enables the training of spies bizarrely enough, are a few of the new features in the campaign.Now what I love about Medieval Total War is the ability to play the game in two ways, the map overview turn based mode and the 3D battle mode where you actually command the troops in the field. While the turn based gameplay has not changed, there is a change with the 3D battles. Before each mission players have the ability to now scout the landscape and look for the enemy before the battle actually commences which allows you to position your troops in a strategic manner on the battlefield. Once you’re happy with your unit group positioning the battles commence and the game follows the same style of the original game. The battles are as detailed as before and there’s been no real changes to the look and control of battles in the expansion.So we have new factions, a more focused campaign and a few tweaks on the battlefield, but what is else is new. If you are still playing the original game like mad then there’s also a few news bits and pieces to enhance your playing experience. Creative a*embly have now added oil attacks for defenders of castles so if you’re a*aulting a gate you’d better watch out from above and the most significant change is the addition of 3 new factions to the original game, the Aragonese, Sicilians and Hungarians. If that wasn’t enough there’s also new units peppered throughout the original game to s**e things up. While these are all well and good I doubt this will persuade you to check the game out, it’s the Viking campaign that’s the focus of attention.Medieval Total War was a cracking game, it may not be to everyone’s taste but for fans of the original this new Viking campaign is worthy of your cash. It’s a little disappointing to see no graphical improvements but the few gameplay tweaks that have been added are a nice bonus. If you’re looking to expand the game’s longevity then as far as an expansion goes Creative a*embly have done a good job.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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