This is one RTS game you simply can't miss.
Medieval II: Total War uses the same basic control system as the Total War games before it, which is an advantage if you've played one before. If, however, this is your first Total War experience be prepared to spend quite a lot of time learning the ropes. Luckily Creative Assembly have thought of this and included a rather useful tutorial, so you'll have nothing to worry about once you've got through that. I only have one gripe with the gameplay aspect of Medieval II - the camera angles leave much to be desired. During the heat of battle I often find myself moving the camera in the wrong direction, which becomes a problem when I want to attack a unit in the distance. Other than that no complaints can be made here.
Due to my rather cack computer I'm forced to have every setting in the graphics department to its minimum, and I was surprised to see that everything still looks visually stunning. On the battle screen your units look detailed, clashes are an awesome sight and generally things only slow down when the map gets too crowded, but you'll have to have an enormous army for that to happen. One improvement I've noticed over Medieval's predecessors is the world map - this looks better than ever before. Overall the graphics for the game are top notch even on a low-end computer. I'd love to see the game running on a high-end computer, that would more than likely be mind-blowing.
As you'd expect all the grunts, clangs, crunches and testosterone-fueled roars are all present, and the voice acting throughout Medieval II is very good indeed. The music isn't anything memorable, it provides a nice atmosphere when you're playing but not a lot more.
I managed to pick up the Collectors Edition of Medieval II: Total War for £20 ($40), which includes a sexy-looking box and a bunch of stuff, including a bonus DVD showcasing how the game was made, a little figurine, a soundtrack CD and a map of the world among other things. I'm sure you'll agree that's fantastic value for money, so personally speaking this gets a 10/10 rating. Even if you can't find the game for that price it's well worth picking up regardless, it's an epic game that's well worthy of your time.