A Total War Saga: Troy review – Creative Assembly tackles the classics

After the colourful characters and political machinations of Total War: Three Kingdoms, Troy: A Total War Saga initially feels like a step backward. A thousand-year step backward, to be precise. Troy might sound like an awesome setting for a Total War game – the Iliad is the font from which all other war stories drink, after all. But the deeper into time Total War delves, the less it has to work with, and fielding armies of clubmen and slingers on the precipice of history doesn’t exactly make for the most thrilling military encounters.

Then I recruited my first minotaur, and that changed things. It wasn’t simply the fact he could smash through a unit of spearmen like a cannonball through a cake. It was the way Troy presented him. See, Troy’s Minotaur isn’t the one Theseus encountered in the Labyrinth – half-man, half-bull, perpetually lost. Instead he’s simply a big dude with a big axe who has a penchant for bovine millinery.

Troy offers us the first mythic Total War, but does so with an eye that’s less poetic and more forensic, trying to figure out the possible fact behind the obvious fiction. Hence, your army may have spearmen fighting alongside centaurs, slingers lined up beside harpies. But the harpies are presented as fleet-footed, spear-throwing women who decorate their battle-dress with feathers, while your centaurs are painted tribesmen who excel at fighting on horseback.

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