Medieval II: Total War
+ Nice music soundtrack which fits the Medieval theme of the game.
+ Great unit variety, with swordsmen, spearmen, archers, cavalry and siege engines like trebuchets and catapults available to use.
+ Many buildings to construct in your towns or castles, such as farms, roads, churches, leather tanneries and so on, each providing different benefits to your kingdom.
+ Dated graphics but they are still acceptable. Units like templar knights are quite colourful.
+ A really cool religious system. Catholic countries in Europe have a reputation among the Pope which can be improved through completing religious missions or building churches. The higher your reputation the more sway you have with the holy leader, so you can order crusades in Muslim lands for honour and glory. If you play as an Islamic faction, you can order jihads lol.
+ Decent map size extending across Europe and the Middle East.
+ Expansion packs are huge and offer even more gameplay.
+ Command thousands of troops on screen at once in epic battles.
+ Nice mix of agents on the campaign map, each with different purposes. Priests can convert regions to your religion and denounce witches or heretics, but if they are unsuccessful, could turn to a life of heresy themselves. Assassins are another key unit, skilled in the art of killing enemy generals or family members. Then there's merchants, which can capitalise on trade goods across the world map and send the profits back to your kingdom, but foreign merchants may try to drive you out of business! Diplomats are fairly self explanatory and royal princesses can visit other kingdoms to find a husband, while also acting as a diplomat too.
+ Hundreds of hours of gameplay here.
- Unit animations on the battlefield aren't very good. They're difficult to see and not that interesting. Later installments of the Total War series improved this.
- Diplomacy is virtually useless, allies are unreliable and will attack for literally no reason, your relationship with them does not impact the likelihood of whether they will attack you. This is a major problem with the game, mods don't seem to fix anything (I've tried multiple ones.)
- This game has constant warfare due to the broken diplomacy system. You never do get a break from conquering other kingdoms. Anyone who has played a total war game before knows that it can be quite overwhelming, tiresome and boring fighting turn after turn. It's nice to build your empire in peace sometimes. You don't really get that opportunity in Medieval II: Total War.
- Overpowered Mongol hordes that appear during the late-game can be very irritating. For some unknown reason, Creative Assembly (the developers) like to throw a curve ball at the players in almost every single total war title they release. Total War: Shogun 2 had realm divide, where every Japanese faction declared war on you after you became too powerful, Total War: Rome II had civil wars, where massive armies spawn in your territory to take over. Medieval II: Total War has....the Mongols. All I can say is good luck and be prepared for when they arrive.
Overall Score: 8/10
Even though Medieval II: Total War is an old game which struggles with diplomacy and realism, it has a lot of fun features and micro-management which the more modern total war games seem to neglect. The use of priests to remove witches and heretics, the inquisition trialling your family's characters for blasphemy, the crusades, merchants who fight over resources - this is all good, interesting gameplay on top of the real time battles. It's an excellent if not exhausting game, due to the AI's constant affinity for wanting to attack you.