In Honor of the Renaissance Festival: The Greatest Medieval Games of All Time
3. Medieval II: Total War
The fourth game in the series, Medieval II: Total War is a turn-based strategy game that spans Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It's a civilization building game with similar features to Anno 1404 but with a heavier focus on combat. It features historical campaigns following medieval civilizations as well as individual battles. It's possible to play as England, Egypt, the Byzantine Empire, the Roman Empire and more.
The battle system is epic in size and incorporates entire armies fighting each other, with around 5000 units in a single force. And not only is there a daunting number of units fighting at once, they look good doing it--the game's graphics are polished, and each soldier is equipped with varying heraldry so as to give units some visual uniqueness. In addition, each game plays out differently and there are multiple paths to victory.
Medieval II: Total War wasn't as revolutionary as its predecessor, but it added just enough features to remain fresh. It handles micromanagement better than Anno 1404 and tasks never feel tedious. The AI system is a bit lackluster; computers often attack a castle with just one or two archers, for example, and the game is only challenging at the highest difficulty. However, the game is among the greatest medieval strategy games of all time and still worth a pickup today.