Medieval 2: Total War

Remember when your best friend got his first fancy sports car? After your initial white-knuckled ride, you immediately coveted his new wheels. Just like high-end surround sound systems, blazing fast computers and imported chocolate - we never realize we can't live without these things until we actually experience them. Unfortunately, games work exactly the same way: we were jauntily subjugating the European continent in last year's real-time strategy stroke-of-genius, Rome: Total War, until we got the low-down on the sequel, Medieval 2: Total War. Now, we've simply got to have it.

Brazenly tossing aside the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" maxim, the development team at Creative Assembly promises to top their old achievements in nearly every way. The enormous, mind-boggling battles are not only bigger, but each and every soldier will now be individually modeled; unique facial features, armor and weapons will adorn the endless ranks.

Soldiers will have improved AI, and will search and acquire targets based on line-of-sight. Medieval 2 will put them in epic, real-time battles involving thousands of troops smashing each other's heads in with battle-axes and war hammers, promising the ultimate strategy game.

Castle sieges, which are practically the centerpiece of Total War, will be even more massive. In place of the original single-walled defense, Medieval 2's castles will be ringed by two or three outer walls, making for thrilling last-minute victories - or defeats - as assaults come down to the wire, with the aggressorstorming the final keep.