Rome: Total War – Alexander

Alongside the new historical battles and extended multiplayer, you’ll find the true heart of this expansion pack for Rome: Total War is the campaign mode that lets you, as Alexander of Macedon, conquer and subjugate most of Asia and Northern Africa. This campaign will include such civilizations as the Indian or Persian Empires. You’ll have no contact with the Romans this time around – indeed, all of Western Europe has been removed from the campaign map. But this is fine since it lets you focus on the real prize.

2_1All of this sounds cool, but one can’t help but feel that a lot of potential has been wasted. While the region depicted here is quite huge, it’s populated by very few factions, including stateless brigands. The expansion pack has a more visceral focus on combat this time, as opposed to the Machiavellian dealings you could do as the Romans to appease your neighbors before marching into their territory. There is in fact no political intrigue or diplomacy to be had here – it’s been scrapped entirely – and so you must use brute force (or your spies and assassins) to win.

And you’ll have to be a damn good general to win this one. Alexander is one of those expansions that caters to the diehards who’ve completed Rome three times over, and feel like they want a new challenge. The world will be against you for the duration of the game, and you’ll have to use each unit with deadly efficiency in battle. Your opponents will start out strong and with more disposable men, developed cities and plenty of gold.

To make things even tougher, you’re required to finish the campaign within 100 turns – a limit that attempts to mimic the short timespan in which the real Alexander had conquered Asia and North Africa. It’s not exactly realistic – the Alexander here can fight well into his late 30s, but it’s still a tough limit. This makes it incredibly easy to screw up early, since establishing your towns and getting a constant flow of cash is hardest then.

A few low points do make this pack less interesting than Rome. For example, the amount of interesting units you can recruit is quite limited. You won’t have onagers or long-ranged archers to play with, since the bulk of Macedon’s forces rely on pikemen formations and lightweight cavalry. And despite all expectations, you won’t have Indian war elephants under your command. Still, if you feel your empire building skills need sharpening, give this one a go. Just remember it’s a genuine challenge.

System Requirements: Pentium III 700 MHz, 256 MB RAM, WinXP

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