I bought Empire: TW right when it became availeble @ Steam. The game played fine until recently. I had roughly a month of inactivity and now that I decided to play some more, the game refuses to start. What happens is that when I start the game, the first screen appears just normally but after a while of loading the game jumps back to desktop and says that Empire was shut down.
I read from the forums that the reason could be the nVidia drivers. I tested punch of drivers released between summer 2007 - summer 2009, but this had no effect (except that with the newest drivers grey = pink :D). Also I read that C: drives space could be an issue, but it wasn't...
I installed DarthMod Empire 1,1 ages ago and the game worked fine back then. I suspect this could be the reason why my game doesn't work. I re-installed the game but the problem still keeps coming up. Could the mod files still mess with the game? Has there been a new update to Empire recently and that this mod is not compatible with it? Any ideas?
I would first try disabling sound. I've had problems with games crashing in the past and it always something with sound conflicts. You can go into the directx program and disable sound acceleration. Patch 1.3 I think includes an update for Miles sound library which they use to stream sounds off the hard disk, so it's possible it is a sound issue.
If you choose to reinstall make sure you remove the mod files when reinstalling. The uninstall(delete local content) in Steam probably just leaves them. If you don't have the retail discs, you will need to re-download everything. Go into your steam folder or search for steamapps. In steamapps remove all of the files with empire total war in their name. Then go into the common folder. In there should be an empire total war folder. You can delete that folder to remove all the game data. The only other thing is your user settings which are saved in a separate place. Those settings shouldn't cause too much problem but they can be found in AppData/roaming/The Creative Assembly/Empire Total War/ on Vista (hidden folder inside your account folder).