Medieval II Total War allows you to fight throughout the European world during Roman Empire / Venice / young England times. You get a wide variety of troop types, weapons and armor suited to the medieval years.
The graphics are stunning. We have a wide screen flat computer monitor and the details you get even in the small mini-map are quite impressive. From the overall world map, to the detailed combat screens, you get easy to read text, atmosphere-imbuing backgrounds and accurate armor and weapon depictions. You can rotate at any angle, zoom in and out, as if you were a small helicopter traversing every part of the battlefield.
They do an admirable attempt at giving accents to the various factions, so that you feel like you're talking with someone from Venice, or England, or whoever you happen to be negotiating with. Battles sounds are the traditional clank - bash - yaaaagh that you have come to expect in these sorts of games. I enjoy the included music very much!
We didn't have any issues at all running the game on our system. This is a rather high-end game, letting numerous enemies move and fight on-screen at once. You really do need a current system to play it. I don't find this a bad thing - XBox 360 games don't play on an XBox machine. In fact, we had things happening too quickly at times, and had to scramble to keep up with the events.
There are the scripted campaigns, as well as custom battles where you can create teams of factions and see how you do on a given map. You can even choose specific units from different periods, mixing and matching to see "what if" scenarios.
AI is rather impressive for having so many units making decisions at the same time. Sure, there is the occasional issue where units being bombarded with an arrow assault can't quite figure out where to go to escape it. But I imagine that happens in real life too - if you're under a hail of arrows, it might not be clear which way is safer to run. I do agree that they shouldn't just stand still and wait to die :)
Still, as all strategy gamers know, it really doesn't matter what the AI of a strategy game does. That is just a training mode to help you learn the techniques. The real challenge in any strategy game is to take on other human gamers. So once you've mastered the basics, and understand the skills, take your game online and see how you do against other human players!
Buy Medieval II Total War from Amazon.com