Total War: Rome 2 Review
In every entry into Creative Assembly’s truly epic series, the game thrusts you into command of a historic kingdom, competing for dominance in a legendary time period. Since 2000, Total War has taken players through the Japanese Shogunate wars, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Colonial period and the Napoleonic wars. Now, the series returns to revisit Rome, from the rise of the Republic to the conquest of the Empire.
It’s no secret that I’m in love with the Total War series. In my mind, 2010’s Shogun 2 and its expansions are among the best, most epic strategy games ever made. With big, epic battles, simplistic gameplay and a plethora of strategic and diplomatic angles to use, you felt like you were in control of your own expanding dynasty. And, of course, its cooperative campaign was amazing.
Now, Creative Assembly is trying to recreate its success with a follow-up to 2004’s Rome: Total War. The campaign, which can be played head-to-head or cooperatively with another player, allows you to play not only as the Roman republic/empire, but any of more than a dozen other countries between 200 BCE until the fall of Rome.
You can control Carthage, the Gauls, the tribes of ancient Britain and Germany, Egypt, Macedon and Persia. And, if you pre-ordered the game (Or have an extra bit of money to spend on DLC), you can have a bit of historical inaccuracy by controlling Sparta or Athens.
And did I mention that Sparta and the Persia are playable countries? My computer grew a beard, drank a beer and started scratching itself at the thought of that battle. Neither was at the height of its power during the expansion of Rome, but both have been revived for the sake of Creative Assembly knowing what players want and giving it to them.
But for the sake of the series, Creative Assembly has always defined itself by historical accuracy. The names of units, leaders, generals and regions of the world are all researched and intimately detailed for the game. Battle formations and troops movements are presented just as they were 2000 years ago, and each army can consist of hundreds or even thousands of soldiers, all under your command.
Your success in combat doesn’t just rely on strength of numbers, however. It requires strategy, tactical thought and a keen attention to your troops’ versatility and movements. Flank, out-maneuver, and out-think your foes on the battlefield, or if you’re not feeling up to it, you can take the risk of auto-playing your battles with rivals.
But victory isn’t just to the strong. Diplomacy, espionage, extortion and bribery can earn nearly as much for you as conquest can, or at least weaken your foes enough to make conquest much easier. And when your foes are beaten, Rome 2 gives you the option of executing, enslaving, or (for the soft-hearted) releasing the survivors.
In Rome 2, you can conquer the world as the Roman Empire, or challenge the Romans for dominance and create your own legacy. If you loved Shogun 2, you may be disappointed at the new, different camera angles and the new artistic style of Rome 2. The graphics, while bright and colourful, aren’t as crisp or stunning as those in Shogun 2. On the other end of things, the in-battle graphics (especially in close-up, cinematic mode) are nothing less than breathtaking.
Rome 2 is a masterpiece that, while intimidating in its size, may be among the most ambitious games of the series. It’s not without its flaws, however. Troop formations can be difficult to maintain, which can lead to ugly, unorganised bedlam on the battlefield. As such, units have to be controlled very closely in order to maintain any kind of strategy.
Another issue I had with Rome 2 was the change in city-expansion and building from previous versions. While it’s not too difficult to figure out, the learning curve can be a bit tricky, leading to pain for your country if you don’t sort it quickly.
Those, however, are minor issues compared to the enjoyment I’ve gotten from this game. Rome 2 receives nothing but subjective, admittedly impartial praise from me. If you enjoy long strategy games involving massive armies and the promise of world conquest, that require more tact and thought than pounding out soldiers and marching them off into some random fray, give Rome 2 a chance.
FINAL SCORE: 4/5