Forums all over the net were littered with cries of "Hey, they've already done that!" when game developer Creative Assembly announced that its next game in the Total War series would be something of a blast from the past called Medieval II. But nobody's complaining now. Even though the subject matter may be a little familiar, all the games that came before Medieval II: Total War seem like warm-ups for this one. The strategic and tactical aspects have finally been polished to near perfection.
This is a souped-up take on the standard Total War formula, but it's so pimped out that comparing it to the earlier games feels like comparing a Kia to a Cadillac.
Game style in the main Grand Campaign mode of play is very familiar, though, so you still oversee your burgeoning empire on a campaign map and play out actual battles on a real-time battlefield. If you've played any of the Total War series, you won't need to bother with the tutorials or check out too much of the manual.
That's not to say there aren't a lot of additions here. Huge improvements have been made to the turn-based campaign half of the game. Before, this seemed a bit flat, more of a map where you moved armies than an actual place to strategize.