There isn't much to be said about the Total War series as a whole that hasn't been covered in almost every other review out there. Total War is a series that many other turn-based, real-time strategy sagas strive to emulate.
Napoleon: Total War, from The Creative Assembly, is an epic wartime strategy game that carries on the greatness of the previous game's geopolitical campaigns, only this time players have the chance to place themselves right at the centre of Napoleon's military career through two of the game's four campaigns, whilst the other two focus on more general matters with one allowing you to take control of one of the major European powers at the time. As you can see, there is much to discuss here.
If you're a newcomer to Total War as a series, don't even think of brushing past the tutorial. After all, this is a relatively intricate game that involves managing the geopolitical details of Napoleon's various campaigns against Italy, Egypt, and then the final and most famous of the campaigns: the Napoleonic Wars across a majority of Europe. For beginners, skipping the tutorial would mean diving in to some fairly complex mechanics and even though the battles are waged on a more overarching, macro scale (as opposed to micro), you'll still need to understand the mechanics behind what made Empire: Total War such a success.
As you open the game, you've got three game modes to enjoy. These consist of the campaign mode, land battles, and sea battles. This means that you can either get fully immersed in the grand-scale action of the campaign, or simply insert yourself into a naval or land-based battle if you've got a little less time available.
The campaign is obviously the most immersive of all the modes, and is quite similar to the campaigns of previous Total War games, in structure at least. You can utilise various unit types such as spies, take care of trade and diplomacy, manage cities by constructing buildings (this is also where you recruit your armies), and of course the controlling of your armies that you've managed to raise in the cities.
Where the game really shines however is in its real-time battles. These aren't unique to Napoleon: Total War of course - all Total War games involve entering into battles of this style - but both land and sea battles are highly immersive and involve a significant level of tactical play that differs between land-based and sea-based battles. Controlling your infantry, artillery, and cavalry is exhilarating and gives you a real sense of power; ships have a different set of options for attacking and defending, with different ships moving different in the water and having various weapon/shot types.
Another of this game's strong suits is its multiplayer. You can experience LAN-based multiplayer of course, but another great features is the so-called "drop-in" multiplayer mode where you can essentially join or have someone join campaigns you/they are playing against the computer. Voice command is also an option, allowing you to also speak to other players over the fantastic Steam network. However, it's a bit annoying that for multiplayer you have to rely on extra software in the form of Game Center, which you have to be signed in to in order to play.
Graphics and Conclusion
Though the game looks considerably old thanks to graphics advances since the game's 2010 release, at the time its presentation and graphics were considerably impressive. Whether you're playing land battles, where the landscapes are rendered wonderfully and the screen fills up with your individual units, or indeed the sea battles where the ocean looks incredible and the ships modelled very well, you won't be disappointed.
So have The Creative Assembly succeeded in making Napoleon: Total War a worthwhile purchase? The answer could only be yes, most definitely. This is because the campaigns are very involving, appealing to casual players and also history buffs. Both land and sea battles are mightily impressive, their different mechanics providing some welcome variation to the campaigns.
The multiplayer is also excellent, though the third-party software requirement is a little bit of a niggling issue. The main drawback of the game is the occasionally inconsistent AI, as well as the fairly linear progression of the campaigns compared to this game's predecessor. However, because you're following an historical framework quite closely, the linear nature of the campaign is somewhat of a trade-off that has to be made in order to provide players with a proper exploration/representation of Napoleon's various campaigns. These small drawbacks do not impact the game enough to be devastating to it, making Napoleon: Total War entirely worthwhile in spite of its small faults.