If you own Medieval 2: Total War and are considering getting yourself a copy of Empire (cheapest is currently going for £14.99 on Steam) don’t bother. The Medieval Kingdoms Expansion is by far the best edition to the whole Total War franchise. So rather than spending £15 on a sequel which really is not all that great, save yourself some money and download Kingdoms for just £4.99 on Steam. This gives you a great saving compared with the next best price which comes in at £8.73 from The Hut.
The Kingdoms Expansion consists of four new campaigns. You can guide Hernan Cortes and his small band of Spanish conquistadors through the New World as they land on the previously undiscovered shores of Mexico in 1519. You can fight on the side of the crusaders or the Arab states during the 3rd crusade as they slaughter each other in the name of religion. You can terrorize the British Isles as the Vikings, beat the hell out of the English as William Wallace or try to unite your fractured kingdom as Edward the Longshanks in the Britannia campaign. Lastly, you can try and dominate Eastern Europe as an array of different factions which include Poland, the Teutonic Order, the Danes, and the Mongols in the Teutonic campaign.
One of the best things about Kingdoms is that it’s such a great looking game, especially when it comes to sieges. Cities like Jerusalem, Danzig and Mexico City are all phenomenally well detailed and really provide that sense of scale which cities in Empire: TW completely lacked. From the dramatic landscape and volatile climate of New World to the searing deserts of the Middle East, the game manages to capture the characteristics of these various regions extremely well.
Admittedly, Kingdoms doesn’t involve real time naval battles (although they quickly got boring in E:TW), but the fact you can mobolize massive crusader cavalry charges and swarming armies of Indians like something out of Bernal Diaz more than compensates for this. With everyone politely taking it in turns to shoot each other, 18th century warfare can get a bit tedious - but Kingdoms depicts war at its very best!