The interdependence of strategy and military is what makes the Total War series so appealing, even to armchair pundits with remarkably different tastes. Civilization fans will love the overview and the minute attention to every conceivable detail; table-top Generals will froth at the mouth and yell "charge!" at each cannon volley, likely prompting concerned glances from anyone in the vicinity.
But for a game to appeal at such a level to so many, and to bring a remarkable period of time to life in such a brilliant and capable way - that's the true sign of quality. Sure, there are flaws - GamePlanet is not a fan of the loading times - but there's no problem that couldn't be addressed with a patch or two, and for the most part this is a game that will rate amongst the very best of 2009.