No, it's not April 1st, and yes, Empire: Total War's really a PC game. Clarification: It's a PC-only game. There's no console port, no word of a port in the works, and no portentous celestial signs or knuckle-boning to suggest otherwise. Speaking as a Yank temporarily situated in the UK, I can vouch that it's not had much of a marketing push here. Nothing like the Warhammer Online bonanza, which saw huge, multistory drapery billowing from the tops of European train stations, or the building-side Grand Theft Auto IV spreads in Manhattan that made tied-off tank tops and tongue-titillated lollipops all the rage last year.
Anyway, the news comes down from GfK Chart Track, the UK's NPD analogue, and their latest Top 40 Entertainment Software for the week ending March 7, 2009.
1. Empire: Total War (PC)
2. Killzone 2 (PS3)
3. Wii Fit (Wii)
4. Halo Wars (Xbox 360)
5. Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS)
6. Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (Xbox 360)
7. Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (PS3)
8. Wii Play (Wii)
9. Mario Kart (Wii)
10. Street Fighter IV (PS3)
According to Gameindustry.biz, Empire: Total War's top slot grab is the first for a PC game since October 2007. More astonishingly, it's sales are already double those of Creative Assembly's Rome: Total War during that game's debut week back in September 2004.
Odder still: Empire: Total War's a sort of hybrid turn-based / real-time strategy wargame, one set during the not exactly popularly canvassed eighteenth-century. Of course it helps it's been getting rave reviews from everyone. If you place any stock in aggregators like Metacritic, make that "universal acclaim," and a lowest review score of 85.
As Inspector Gadget would say, "Go-Go PC gaming."
Matt Peckham just pulled Empire: Total War down using Steam and hasn't had a lick of trouble yet. If you have, you can let him know below, or drop him a note at twitter.com/game_on.