Medieval 2: Total War hands-on

Once they charged, we could see first-hand how the individual troops reacted in battle, with hurtling horses scattering infantry and victorious fighters scanning the area for new opponents. But these developments aren't simply aesthetic. A unit's stance, behavior and general look broadcasts its overall morale, for quick and simple reference.

We also got to see a desert battlefield, as our English army answered the Pope's call for a crusade. Religion plays a huge part in Medieval 2 and, if you're in favor with the pontiff - like we were - you can even influence his decisions, which led us into battle with the Egyptians. Of course, you can also just have his Holiness knocked-off by one of your assassins, and fans will be pleased to note that the mini-movies of an assassin's mission - showing the events of his success or failure - are back and enhanced.

Medieval 2: Total War has a whole host of extra features, with deformable castles, settlement choices and special bonuses for taking part in Crusades just scraping the tip of the warmongering iceberg. The game is out at the end of the year, but we'll be back with more info long before then.