Rome Wasn’t Played in a Day : ;Rome Total War 2′ Review
The Romans have wronged me. At the time crossing into my territory and attempting to incite unrest in one of my border towns was more than enough reason to mobilize an army and take it to the heart of the Roman Empire. The war was long and countless lives were lost but at the bitter end Rome begged for peace. Their empire was crushed against the rocky crags of the Mediterranean sea and subsequently drowned out of existence. I had won the war. I had also spent far to many evenings in my room with only the glow of my computer screen radiating from under my door and occasional maniacal laughter to let my housemates know I was indeed alive.
Rome: Total War 2 isn’t a game for everyone. It lacks any consistent action and if you don’t enjoy strategy and empire building then I wouldn’t recommend it. At this point in the Total War franchise though I expect most people to know what they are getting into. Rome isn’t different from it’s predecessors in any significant way. The global map has been simplified and streamlined to make managing an empire much easier however the on the ground battles are still plagued by awkward A.I. and other bugs. In 30 hours of gameplay I didn’t run into one game breaking bug but I often had to micro manage units because they simply wouldn’t listen to where I wanted them to go and would instead chose crazy routs to get places on the battlefield. These bugs were minor annoyances and rarely actually broke the overall enjoyment of the game. In a way it’s almost become a staple of a Total War release. Creative Assembly has already announced their plans to continue to update the game with frequent patches and the two that have been released already have improved the game significantly.
The new province city management really streamlines the empire building process. It allows the player to quickly manage an entire province at a time instead of each individual city which makes larger empires much easier to deal with. The ability to recruit units directly to armies is a major improvement in my opinion. At first I was hesitant to like the idea of requiring a general for each army but after playing for awhile I’ve really come to love it. It builds a certain level of attachment to your forces and allows specialization. I had armies specialized in melee and siege warfare for expanding my empire and other armies dedicated to ranged combat and city defense. Creative Assembly has managed to add complexity and depth to their game while keeping it easy to understand.
The battles in the game are graphically impressive and can become huge in scope, with naval and land warfare mixing. While the oceanic warfare is much improved since empire total war I still could care less for it. In this era it is simply ramming, boarding and hurling rocks which quickly grows boring and I often find myself auto-resolving a lot of maritime battles. The diverse types of units across playable empires is a nice change from Shogun 2. There are still the classic styles of units(ranged, spear, sword, cavalry etc.), my Gallic spearmen did not resemble the Hellenistic ones which helped create a sense of individualism for your chosen nation.
However I often found myself not engaging in many battles. Most of the time is spent on the campaign map slowly growing your empire turn by long turn. This can ruin the game for people looking for an action oriented conquest of the world. The truly epic fights are few and far between but if you’ve the patience the reward of two massive armies clashing is well worth it.
Of course that graphical intensity comes at a price. I’m running a year old machine with a GTX590, 8 gigs of RAM and 3.2GHz Intel i7 and I can run the game on high with no problems however my laptop which is using a GT 745m, 8gigs of ram and a 2.8GHz overclocked to 3.2 can’t run the game on low without significant lag even on the campaign map. The two released patches have improved performance on my lower end lap top but I generally just wait until I can get to my desktop to enjoy the game.
Even with the glitches in battle I keep finding myself returning to Rome 2. The improvements made to the series are all for the best even if they may seem awkward or annoying at first. There is plenty of content in this game to keep those of us with a hankering for world domination occupied for many months to come. Now if you’ll excuse me…I hear the call of my people and they are asking for war!
CONCLUSION: Rome 2 is a general improvement on the series. The turns are long and time between exciting battles can be excruciatingly mundane. However when things come together and epic warfare is waged the game truly shines. Rome 2 can be fun but it can also be work.