The opportunity to rewrite history waits for you in this epic, sprawling struggle for sovereignty, dominance and riches. Choose one of over 100 kingdoms and play through the Early, High, and Late periods of the Middle Ages during one of Europe’s most turbulent and fascinating times. Use any number of methods to achieve your goals and impose your will on others, including trade, diplomacy, subterfuge or brute force. Through words or steel, lead your nation to victory and make your mark on history. With numerous allies and foes to contend with and an entire continent to conquer, the path to ultimate domination is no simple feat. It takes the wisdom, strength and courage of a leader to weather the trials of history: do you have it in you?
This is an absolutely genius game, quite on par with (by then) Rome Total War. THey were released in the same year and both do, in essence, the same thing: provide a grand strategy game for you to conquer and play.
I am biased, since I truly love this game. It's not a childhood favourite as I was already 18 when I first played it, but it gave me the same exact emotion Age of Empires 2 and Rome TW did for me when I played them when I was younger, and also the same that Crusader Kings 2 does now.
The simplicity of the game is such that I can just hop on and start over without feeling much regret.
Yes, the game is 2d, but it's gorgeous, even to today's standards, it's beautiful enough that you can feel okay by the drawings and characters, way more than Rome 2 did, that's for sure. The graphics are awesome, really. I have to state that the real-time battles are not that great (and because of it I should give it a 9, but heck, I love it far too much to do the right thing).
While the battles themselves are far too fast-paced for my taste, the scenarios are beautifully made, and the the strategy map is Real-Time, not turn-based, so you can send your knights rampaging and wait for the outcome to happen with sound tranquility, you don't need to micromanage EVERY SINGLE BATTLE in order to not have your armies decimated. The "auto-resolve" (or simply not getting directly involved in battles) works very well, and it's not simply a matter of numbers with some random percentages applied to specific-type units. When you win or you lose and you see the troops that you lost, you feel it was a real battle, not just some crappy calculations.
The game doesn't try to convince you you're playing a beautiful board-game with representations, it tries to show you the world: you don't see only some civillian caravans walking only on built roads, there are peasants and people moving all around the world, you feel like they are actually moving from the farm to the monastery and from the monastery to the town, instead of a generic giant doll with some number or bar attached to it to tell you "there are # soldiers here". The wolrd moves a bit like Mount & Blade, but more beautifully.
Also, the units you have in your army are shown on the grand map (not 900 of them, but enough to represent an army by scale), so you feel like there are actual armies marching around instead of generals with invisible stacks of soldiers.
It's very cheap, very undemanding of your computer. If you can, grab it, especially on sale, it's a real bargain for a very fun game. It's one of my all-time favourites, and I'm not exaggerating, it is and I TRULY, DEEPLY LOVE IT.
Go get it anyway you can, maybe one day we could have a KoH2, peharps...