Total War: Rome II (PC)
The original Total War: Rome was released in 2004 by developer Creative Assembly and was a critically acclaimed best seller, becoming one of the most loved games of the Total War series to date. Fans of the series loved the epic scale of the battles that previously could only have been read about in the pages of history. Huge campaigns and gigantic battles was what this game was all about.
Rome II takes that scale to the next level with an enormous campaign and large scale battles that see more than 5000 men clashing across the field. The single player campaign has been expanded with over 150 regions and more than 100 different factions. Controlling this vast empire however has been made a little bit easier with the new province system that allows player to manage multiple regions in the same province reducing the need for micro-management. The management of units has also been streamlined with recruitment and movement now taking place in armies that are raised under a general instead of individually. The largest addition however is the inclusion of naval battles including sea regions and large scale naval forces which can be used simultaneously with ground forces allowing for some spectacular coastal conquests. All of this is set out on an absolutely beautiful model of the ancient continents with small enhancements such as seeing the expansion of cities on the map in real time, adding to the grand scale of it all.
But whilearmiesplay their part, politics must also be managed. Within each playable faction you choose one of three parties for which you must amass power while plotting to take down your rivals. This can be achieved through diplomacy, bribery, or even assassination. Each decision affects public opinion of you and as your empire grows can lead to a number of problems like ranging from small rebellions to full blown civil wars. You can also employ different types of agents including spies, dignitaries and champions and assign them different tasks to which they each can take unique approaches too. The endless machinations of the various competing parties and enemies make you feel like every small detail matters as your empire balances on the edge of knife.
The battles themselves however are still the best part of the game and with the features like true line of sight, which adjusts a units view according to both their terrain and type, the tactics that you can employ are endless and with over 500 different types of units available you will never be short for choices when building your armies. Being able to fortify your armies or force them into a quick march for more action points allows for a great range of control of your forces. Even the skill trees can be built up as traditions so that your new recruits can obtain the same bonuses as the rest of your forces. Once the battle starts you’ll find yourself flanking enemy forces, bombarding troops with projectiles, charging, and slamming ranks with cavalry all too cause panic and break the lines of regimented troop formations. Using these tactics successfully can make all the difference meaning that you don’t have to fight to the last man and that you won’t need to risk the lives of your own men doing it. But in the end the thrill of getting up close and personal to the action is where the fun really begins. Things like being able to control and follow siege weapons in the first person and watching your ships crash into the enemy really make you appreciate the detail in which the battles are re-created. More often than not you will find yourself zooming in to witness the gory details.
Sadly the grandness of it all begins to wear away as the number of factions begins to take its toll in the later game. With so many turns to complete they can take up to 3 minutes to cycle through and by turn 80 they can take up to 5 minutes which does slow down the action considerably. This also becomes more frustrating to watch as the main problem of the game is the foolishness of your enemies. The AI is about as far removed from the Caesars and Scipio’s as you can get. Creative Assembly have let themselves down with AI that frequently makes decisions that give the player far too much of an advantage as they tend to make suicidal attacks and can sometimes even ignore your forces all together. The game also has some technical issues with sudden game crashes and in game bugs that can make for some frustrating moments.
Yet despite these flaws the game still begs to be played. It could be the amazing visuals that show off some remarkable textures in the landscape and fantastic character details as each unit fights for survival showing pain, anger, and fear in equal measures. Or it could be the excellent soundtrack that immerses the player with grandiose orchestral tones that create the perfect atmosphere for the era. Honestly though, I think it comes down to seeing the huge armies crash into each other on the battlefield and the satisfaction watching your cities slowly expanding out into a vast empire.
The latest instalment of the Total War series Rome II offers some of the best turn based strategy gaming to date. It’s a visual delight with an in-depth campaign that is sure to satisfy the most hardcore strategy gamer. The culmination of a great historical setting with such a rich tactical experience really makes this game a joy to play. Unfortunately the experience is let down by an incompetent AI, multiple game bugs and issues. Overall though Rome II is a solid strategy game but it’s let down by technical issues and minor bugs.
Written by Sam Babu