L'Empereur is a military strategy game. The game takes place during the violent aftermath of the French Revolution and follows the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte who became one of the most popular and charismatic leaders of France.
You start as an officer in charge of the military and local city affairs and later in your career you become the French First Consul and finally the Emperor and take up the responsibilities that come with it. You can only rise in rank if you have gained the support of the people.
You have to build and organize a loyal military army and lead them into war. Defeat the belligerent neighboring countries and collect taxes and pay stipends on time. But be aware of military uprising, strikes, rebellions and deal with weather conditions a harsh winters and other natural disasters that might occur. You fail if your captured by the enemy or die.
KOEI was extremely diligent in its first year, producing seven games, one of which was L'Empereur. The game places you in the role of Napoleon, from the start of his career to his final glory-days as the undisputed ruler of France.
You will start the game with a very small force, and just like the historical Napoleon, you will need to use your artillery to break through the enemy lines. An all-out assault will meet with certain defeat. The best strategy is to demoralize the enemy troops with cannon blasts, then run them over with your ground forces. Cavalry works best against infantry, and infantry is best against artillery. BUT... even though things look great and the enemy loses one battalion after the other, you can still meet defeat if you run out of food. You must always be prepared for a long battle, and should always take more food with you than you think you'll need.
After playing the game for a little while you will begin, as Napoleon did, to love your artillery. It is the most important tool on the battlefield. A handful of cannons can turn the tide of war, so protect these units with your life. You will have to position your cannons in strategic positions, as the terrain matters; you cannot see beyond the forests, mountains, and other objects, which limits your cannons' range and efficiency. This works for you as well: Use the terrain to your benefit. Set up traps in valleys, where the enemy can only traverse one at a time. Position yourself out of the range of enemy cannons, or hide yourself behind obstacles. And whatever you do, keep demoralizing the enemy with your artillery.
L'Empereur can be controlled with either the mouse or the keyboard, which is great for a game made in 1991. The mouse can be a bit buggy at times, leaving ghost images or disappearing occasionally, but this doesn't hurt the game at all, as it takes only a couple of seconds to either switch screens, to make the ghost images go away, or locate your mouse, which still highlights everything on mouseover. In order to give map commands, you simply hold down the left mouse button and choose a command from the command bar that will appear at the top of the screen.
As for the music in the game, it is actually quite catchy for the time. I can easily recall myself listening to the music over and over as a kid (to the annoyance of my parents). The music and sounds would be killed on sight today, but back then this was played at maximum volume in kids' rooms all over the world.
Unfortunately, this game is one of the few KOEI strategy games that does not have a multiplayer function.
An ambitious game that chronicles the life of Napoleon Bonaparte from his days as army commander to the ruler of empire, L'Empereur is a solid strategy game that simplifies many of RTK's statistics and tactical-level commands in favor of more strategic-level diplomatic commands to fit the era. In an interesting twist to the by-now-familiar RTK engine, a set of new commands will replace the old once Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France.
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