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Imperial Glory is set in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era, between 1789 and 1815, and allows the player to choose one of the great empires of the age–Great Britain, France, Austria, Russia or Prussia–on their quest of conquering Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The game is very similar to the Total War series: it consists of a 2-D strategic campaign resembling Medieval: Total War and fully 3-D land and naval battles in the manner of Empire: Total War, which was released in 2009.
The basic units available to the player are the same, regardless of the nation the player controls, namely, infantry, cavalry and artillery. By seizing appropriate provinces, a player may deploy other units, such as Arabian camel cavalry. The principle units (infantry, cavalry, artillery) are identical to those in the ''Total War'' series.
Infantry in Imperial Glory are represented as militia, line infantry, grenadiers, riflemen and the player's country's elite force (e.g. British Black Watch). Cavalry consists of dragoons, hussars and lancers, and it is possible to find such contemporary pieces of artillery as 6-pounder cannons and howitzers.
In the campaign phase of the game, units are moved around the map by assigning them to a commander. Commanders bear the ranks of captain, colonel, general or field marshal. Each can command a certain number of units and be promoted to a higher rank by winning encounters with enemy units.
Aside from fighting, players may engage in complex politics, including several alliance options. Many different kinds of buildings can be constructed, which can be fortified, and which give certain advantages to the player, including providing a basis for recruitment of units. Effort applied to research leads to the development of new types of units to be recruited and different buildings that may be built. Trade routes can be set up as well, either to trade with other nations or establish internal commerce.
Unlike the Total War series of games (except Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War), the main weapon of the infantry is the musket, which lowers the opportunity to involve soldiers in hand-to-hand combat (players may order them to commence bayonet charge). Hence, the tactics have to be adjusted to this new setting. The game offers a variety of unit formations, enabling players to engage in combat operations with greater efficiency.
On the other hand, troop morale, a fundamental aspect of battle, is not present in the game. This results in historical inaccuracies like fights to the last man, which occurred extremely rarely in the historical setting of the game.
At Waterloo in-game, the British and their allies appear on a flat hill in full view of the French. In the real battle the majority of Allied soldiers were behind the hill, hidden from the French except for a few infantry formations. In the historical battles, all were decisive in their part of the Napoleonic Wars except Salamanca (it was at Battle of Vitoria that Wellington delivered a decisive defeat to the French in the Iberian Peninsula).
Imperial Glory was generally received as a fair game with great potential, but with rough edges. Gamespy reported that the "system's biggest problem is that it doesn't model morale. This means that your men basically turn into mindless automatons, and not very smart ones, either" and rounded off the review with "[Imperial Glory] shows a lot of untapped promise and potential, but it also possesses raw edges and missed opportunities. This is still an enjoyable game, though, so long as you're willing to overlook the flaws." 
Jon Wilcox of Totalvideogames.com rated the game nine out of ten, stating: "with its many touches of depth and sophistication along with a handful of innovative features, Imperial Glory comes across as a unique experience even amongst the likes of Rome: Total War." [ ]
Eurogamer was less enthusiastic and noted that "it's a disjointed and ill-paced game. On the strategy map ... there's relatively little you can do in a single turn, except fiddle and press "next turn". ... More critically, on the actual tactical real-time maps you are unable to either speed up time when nothing is happening or pause to issue orders when things get too hectic."
Most reviewers also commented on difficulties of managing sea battles. Land battles have also been criticized as fairly untactical and repetitive, with simple numerical advantages and only very basic strategic competence necessary for victory.