"The Waning of Rome"
I'm a diehard fan of the Total War franchise. I've invested countless hours into the games and one of the entries, Shogun 2, was the only game I that I felt was truly perfect in everything it set out to do. Despite being completely enamored with Shogun 2, Rome: Total War was my first intense foray into the franchise. Countless sleepless nights were spent shuffling around armies, conquering cities, and then picking another faction and doing it all again. Naturally, I was beyond excitement when the download for Total War: Rome II finished, but what I got wasn't what I expected.
As a preface, I'd like to emphasize that Rome II isn't a bad game. In more ways than one, it's a great game and it stands heads and shoulders above some of its peers in the RTS genre. But there's one comparison that's inevitable which shines an unfortunate light on the many problems that plague Rome. Like I said, Shogun 2 was a perfect RTS game in my opinion and Rome, unfortunately, isn't.
The issues that are present are never large, either. It's a compendium of small faults that eventually build up to be an experience which isn't quite as satisfying as what's offered by its predecessor. For example, the A.I. in Rome II isn't a dynamic, intelligent entity that responds to your actions as a player in a realistic manner. Instead, it seems to prefer sending troops to their doom or just running their units around in circles while you chase them down or, just give up and focus on other units. The result is that the combat doesn't feel as tight or as pressing when you're fighting down to the wire. There's also the issue of the A.I. making questionable decisions on the world map. Instead of combining large armies into a massive stack to assault your defenseless cities, they'll send a medley of weak units to fight against your garrisoned troops one by one and slowly break themselves against you. In my play time, I only lost one siege, and that was because I spent more time chasing around units for fun rather than actually defending. Losing on purpose in a strategy game is never a good thing.
Then, there's the issue of consolidation, which is also a place where Total War: Rome II shines. The new game interface consolidates a lot of information down to one window per province, so that it's easier to manage the region as a whole. This is a welcome change, because it means that you don't have to bounce from city to city replicating the same action over and over again. However, this consolidation comes with a price and that price is clarity. Because everything is condensed into one space per province some of the options are a little obscure. When a unit was ready to learn a new skill through promotion, I was struggling to figure out where to click in order to make the upgrades. I eventually found the button, but this was a problem that continued to pop up until I'd learned everything though constant trial and error. The diplomacy also seemed to take a step backward and I rarely found myself capable of maintaining an alliance or trade agreement before that ally decided it was more profitable to wage war on me when it clearly wasn't.
It's not all bad though and, in fact, most of the game is good. The graphical presentation, while still prone to some bugs, is beautiful. I'm not one to dote on graphics, but I was proud that my computer could pump out the textures and environments, along with the massive unit density. There's also the variety of units available. While there's always been a nice variety, it felt like there was more distinction between my units as the game progressed thanks to unit traditions which they earn through consistent battle. This new feature gives more identity to the massive armies you'll be raising over the course of your campaign and the option to allow some units to become specialists really opens up paths of diversity for largely similar units.
Then, there are the naval battle and coastal battles. For the first time, naval and land based battles can occur simultaneously and it's wonderfully executed. While at sea, you can order your ships to ram or board the enemy to defeat them and then sink their ships. Naval battles, when both sides are even, often require more of a tactical eye than the land battles where you can swarm an enemy until they're dead. I often found myself trying to rush into blindly was picked apart because I didn't take the time to individually command the ships on my front lines. Having your ships dock at a coast and your units spill out onto the beaches is also satisfying. It allows for a different level of strategy when you can flank an enemy from the ocean while assaulting their front gates and sandwich them between your forces.
Overall, Total War: Rome II really isn't a bad game. It's not broken and while the A.I. isn't as intelligent as advertised, it's never completely dull to be engaged in combat. The presentation is beautiful and the efforts they've made at diversifying units have really paid off. Rome II's biggest problem is that it's fallen in the shadow of Shogun 2 and taken a step back in a lot of ways for the franchise. Hopefully, through patches and updates, the flaws in Rome II will be fixed but for now, it's holding second place to its predecessor.
GameDynamo's Score for Total War: Rome II (PC)
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
Images / Screenshots / Artwork
Our Total War: Rome II photo gallery currently contains 21 images. Click on any of the thumbnails below to see some of them, or the button to view more.
More Total War: Rome II Images »
[View Total War: Rome II images / screenshots +]
[Watch Total War: Rome II videos / trailers +]
[View more Total War: Rome II articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View Total War: Rome II cheats / guides +]
MORE FROM GAMEDYNAMO