Napoleon received generally favorable reviews from video game critics. Reviews praised the game's stunning visuals, story driven campaigns, and new gameplay features. Some reviewers were critical of the game's weak AI, high system requirements, and its limited scope - while others considered Napoleon overly similar to Empire, its immediate predecessor in the series.
French actor Stephane Cornicard provided voice-acting for Napoleon Bonaparte in the original English, German, French, and Spanish language editions.
As with all other games in the Total War series, Napoleon consists of two gameplay types: a turn based geopolitical campaign - which requires players to build structures in a faction's territories to produce units and create a source of income, research new technologies, deal with other in-game factions through diplomacy, trade and war, sending agents on missions, creating and commanding armies, and eventually become the world's dominant faction - and real time tactical battles where players command huge armies to direct the course of any battles that take place.
Napoleon contains four campaigns, two of which follow Napoleon's early military career. The first career event is the Italian campaign of 1796, while the second is the French invasion of Egypt in 1798. Both feature smaller, optional missions that help drive the story forward. The major French campaign, however, is the so called "The Mastery of Europe," which resembles the holistic modes of previous Total War games. Conversely, the "Campaigns of the Coalition" allows players to govern Great Britain, Russia, Prussia or the Austrian Empire and attempt to defeat Napoleonic France in Europe. Each major campaign requires players to obtain a certain number of territories, although the latter also demands that the French are defeated. Many of Napoleon's major battles such as Austerlitz, Trafalgar, and Waterloo are available as historical scenarios, separate from the campaign.
A new physics system had been implemented for the real-time battles, so that when cannon balls hit the ground, for instance, they leave impact craters. Gunpowder smoke lingers and reduces visibility in protracted engagements. Mike Simpson, CA's studio director, reported that there are a number of environmental factors that affect battlefield tactics: gunpowder backfires when it rains, and the elevation of landscape affects the range of munitions. Individuals within a unit now vary to a greater degree, and are no longer as generic as in previous titles in the series. The campaign map is narrower in focus, but more detailed than Empire's campaign map. Turns in Napoleon: Total War represent two weeks, while previous titles sported turns that were the equivalent of at least six months. Additionally the game's artificial intelligence system had been modified.
In addition, Napoleon: Total War contains several new multiplayer features and a voice command utility to speak to other players via Steam. Unlike previous Total War titles, there is now the option for a "drop-in" multiplayer campaign mode: when playing a campaign against the computer, it is possible to allow another user to join via a lobby and take control.
Napoleon: Total War includes approximately thirty factions throughout the game, though only the following are playable in campaigns:
- Austria - Campaigns of the Coalition and multiplayer (Europe and Italy)
- France - Story mode and multiplayer (Europe, Egypt, and Italy)
- Great Britain - Campaigns of the Coalition and multiplayer (Europe and Egypt)
- Prussia - Campaigns of the Coalition and multiplayer (Europe only)
- Russia - Campaigns of the Coalition and multiplayer (Europe only)
- Ottoman Empire - Multiplayer (Egypt only)
- Spain - Expansion Pack and Multiplayer (The Peninsula Campaign only)
Some non-playable factions available in the campaign include:
- United Netherlands
- Batavian Republic
- Papal States (Also in Italy)
- Kingdom of Naples
- Kingdom of Sardinia (Called Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy)
- Kingdom of Sicily
- Kingdom of Italy
- Swiss Confederation
- Tuscany (Italy only)
- Lucca (Italy only)
- Venice (Italy only
- Bedouin (Egypt only)
- Mamelukes (Egypt only)
The game also included the following features:
- Multiplayer Campaign Mode
- Multiplayer drop-in battles, where you can face human opponents in your single player campaign battles
- Steam achievements, game play bonuses and voice communications.
Marketing and releaseEdit
On March 10, 2010, a demo was released via Steam featuring a playable version of the Battle of Ligny.
Napoleon was released in four different retail versions: Standard edition, Limited edition, Imperial edition, and the Emperor's edition. All boxed versions include the "Elite Regiment" pack, a collection of five extra units; any edition bought on Steam does not include this unit pack.
- Standard - comes with only the game disc and manual in a standard plastic case like most other retail game editions.
- Limited - offers the full game and manual, as well as ten exclusive units in the "Heroes of the Napoleonic Wars" pack.
- Imperial - includes all the contents of the Limited Edition, but has special premium packaging and an illustrated wallchart timeline of the important events in Napoleon's life.
- Emperor's - includes all contents of the Imperial Edition, and is the only edition to include a 200mm statuette of Napoleon and a field journal. This edition was released only in Australia and New Zealand.
Pre-orders made via the Steam content delivery system included another special unit: the Royal Scots Greys. Orders made via certain retailers likewise included various special units: HMS Elephant, Towarczys, and the Battery of the Grand Convention.
- The first downloadable content for the game was the Imperial Guard Pack.
- A downloadable campaign The Peninsular Campaign was released on June 25, 2010.
- Napoleon was going to have a uniform editor upon release. CA announced that the uniform editor would be delayed. Almost eight months after the game's release, Mike Simpson stated that the original uniform editor was never meant for public use, and that CA is making a unit editor capable of both editing and creating new units. This new unit editor is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2011.
- If the government button (G) is being pressed many times, the UI button images will change to a bicorne wearing kitten.