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Imperial Glory

It was bound to happen - what really surprises us is just how long it took. Finally, a whole four years after Shogun first rode out, developers have started to follow the lead of (ie, rip off) Creative Assembly's Total War games. Pyro Studios - creator of Commandos and Praetorians - is aiming to do with Total War what Cossacks did with Age Of Empires, namely take its trademark style of dynamic wargaming and march it through history a few hundred years. And maybe, just maybe, go one better.

Set in and around the Napoleonic Age, Imperial Glory allows you to take control of the British, French, Russian, Prussian or Austro-Hungarian Empires, the ultimate aim being to conquer a map that stretches from Ireland to the Middle East.

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Divided into convenient Risk-style chunks, the campaign map plays host to the game's turn-based mode where, just as in Total War, buildings are built, armies are raised and plans are hatched. Predictably then, when two opposing armies meet, Imperial Glory goes real-time, troops are deployed and it all kicks off.

Pause For Thought
It's the manner in which the battles play out that Pyro hopes will distinguish its game from Total War. While Rome peddles its now familiar blend of archery, charge and swordplay, Imperial Glory instead aims to recreate warfare from the dawn of industry. So, you've got cannon fire ripping through ranks of huddled troops, lines of musketeers raking pellets through entire divisions and buildings and scenery being ripped apart in delightful physics-controlled explosions.

With so much metal flying about, bodies rapidly pile up and decisions have to be made quickly. To add to the immediacy, there's talk that the game will play without the safety net of a pause mode that allows you to direct your troops from stasis - a brave decision if followed through.

Age Of Imperialism
Imperial Glory may distinguish itself in other areas too. In a nod to the likes of Civilization and Age Of Empires the game will advance through three distinct ages, each time prompting you to take your Empire further down the route of republicanism, monarchy or dictatorship. Each style of government offers benefits to science, conscription or material wealth, as well as various drawbacks.

So far we're pretty impressed with Imperial Glory. Its Risk-style turn-based bits offer as much as Total War ever has, while the quickfire gunpowder battles are sure to challenge Rome's pure clashes of steel and stone. Indeed, until Creative Assembly announces its intention to break open the gun cabinet, Imperial Glory could fill the gap just nicely.

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