Ok, I’m a little late with the play-through of the latest in the Total War Series, but
I’ve finally been able to get a little playing time in over the last few days and I’ve got a thought or two about the latest and greatest endeavor from Creative Assembly, the long awaited Rome Total War 2. I guess the short answer is, I like it. I can get into it.
As expected, when it was released September 3, there were a few bugs. Ok, maybe more than a few. Within a couple of days, CA had a patch. Within a week, there was 2 patches.
My first initial impressions of the game as I began was that this is a really big game. I mean it’s huge. At first glance I’d compare the size of the campaign area akin to something like Civilization. It may even be bigger. Anyway, I was impressed.
Most of my playing time has been with patch 2, as the Romans. As the campaign begins, in 272 B.C. you hold a total of 4 settlements. In RTW2, the world is broken up into provinces, with multiple settlements making up a province. In order to control a province, you must control all the settlements within a province. You chose to represent 1 of 3 political parties or “families”. Each party has a slight variations in characteristics. I’m still trying to figure out all the details of politics. Diplomacy is similar to Empire Total War. You access other factions via the diplomacy window. You don’t need to have an agent travel to the opposite faction with a message, but you must have some prior contact with them.
You also are at war with the Etruscan League to the north. You begin with 2 armies and 1 fleet. Your ability to raise armies appears to be directly related to your size and fame. The game describes this as “Imperium”. You also have a spy at your disposal.
It’s pretty obvious that the way to get the ball rolling is war with the Etruscan League. They hold a total of 3 settlements (I think). You must completely annihilate them. And rest assured, they will be busy attacking you and those around you until they are dealt with. I admit I’m not the best Total War player around and vanquishing them was no cakewalk, but it was doable.
One thing that became quite real was the management part of this game. As with all Total War games, proper management of your empire is critical. You really have to plan your strategy and think about how you are going to expand. Having a grand military is only part of the story. You have to not only expand and protect your empire, you must keep your populace feed and happy and at the same time keep the technological edge on your adversaries. You must deal with trade and commerce and international alliances as well. If your one of those players that appreciates micro-managing all the details, Rome Total War will not disappoint.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the Etruscans were only the beginning. After them, you must decide on driving on through the Ligurians and Insubres, heading east into Greece and Macedon or head south against Carthage and North Africa. Whatever you decide, it becomes very evident that at some point you will have to stop and regroup and tend to groth on the home front. But not for long, because your rivals are busy at work themselves. Namely, the Greeks. And because they’re just east across the Adriatic Sea, you can view their achievements right on the campaign map.
I’m hardly an expert when it comes to battles in Total War and I haven’t been able to devote much time to battles yet. But one of the big complaints of the initial release was that battles were much to fast and didn’t give much room for tactics and strategies. I must concur. The battles move at an alarming pace and [for me] I find it quite difficult to keep up with units in large battles. It could be that I just suck or it could be the scale of the battles. When it comes to battles in or around large cities they are quite massive. And the new system has victory points that must be captured and held to win. Like it or not, it’s the way Total War has gone. As far as graphics go, getting up close to the action seems interesting. But once I pan away, I find it quite difficult to identify units. It could be my graphic settings, but even when units are highlighted, I have trouble discerning my units from the enemy. One little extra now is a little fight animation following each engagment. After every battle, you will witness two combatants that represent the opposing forces locked in single combat with the the victor’s combatant defeating his adversary. I think it’d kinda cool. Another little feature is if you choose to have your battle auto-resolved, you can actually see the odds of winning.
Spies are still there. But they are represented by female icons. Different. Other agents that are employable (after certain technologies) as well. Dignitaries can aid in administration of armies or settlements. Champions are another agent. This is new to me. Apparently these guys can assist in training armies or effect the populace of of areas. All agents can interact with each other to assassinate or manipulate each other as well as settlements. And you may not be successful in terminating another agent, but you just might be able to hinder him (or her) and incapacitate them for a turn or two.
I know this review is a little sketchy, but I’m still figuring out what all is going on with Rome Total War 2. To me, that’s one of the great things about Creative Assembly’s games. You have to play them to find out what’s in the bill…… I mean find out what’s in the game. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. At least with Total War games your usually not disappointed.) So far though, on the whole, I am satisfied. And with Creative Assembly’s promise of patches and fixes I’m sure things will get better. And mods are already hitting the web. I plan on checking out as many mods as possible and reviewing them here.
Just some things that come to mind about Rome Total War 2:
Firstly, there seems to be quite a bit of criticism for Rome Total War 2 on many forums and game sites. The gripes seem to
Armies and agents don’t need to board ships to travel across water. Just point them to the water and they find there own sea-borne transportation.
There is an in-game encyclopedia and manual to help answer questions. At first I thought this was really cool, until I actually started using it. To put it bluntly, it’s pretty lame. About the only thing I find it good for is the tech trees for units and buildings. Other than that it’s useless.
I can’t get over the size of the campaign map. I know I’ve already mentioned it, but it is really overwhelming to me. To fully conquer even half to three-quarters of the map would be an monumental undertaking.
The new units cards will take some getting use to. I guess there suppose to be “period” but I just can’t get use to them. They remind me of cave hieroglyphics or some out of scale medieval tapestry. Maybe some mod will address this.
A lot of people have been complaining about the time it takes between turns, when all the other factions are making their moves. There are over 100 other factions and, understandably, this can get quite lengthy, especially as the game goes on. One thing you can do is just Alt-Tab out of the game and the game continues to run while you do — whatever.