So, you liked my Medieval 2: Total War review, right? Well, if you didn’t, go check that out right now, and make sure to give it a like. Anyway, I’m back here to review the award winning sister game in the franchise, Rome: Total War, which was named the 14th best game of all time by IGN, and became popular enough to get its own sequel, Rome 2: Total War. Set in the BC times before the rise of Rome, it’s your job to take hold of one of the three houses of Rome, and raise them up to be the most powerful family in the ancient world. So, you’re new to the game: where do you begin?
After downloading the game and booting it up, you’re greeted with a home screen, and have the options to either play singleplayer, multiplayer, load a game, or configure the options to suit your needs. You also have the option to exit the game from this screen, but this is not advised if you want to play the game. Anyway, assuming you choose singleplayer (which is the mode I would recommend, unless you have friends who also have the game, and want to play with them) you’ll have the option to start a campaign, fight a historical battle, a quick battle, or a custom battle, but as with the other installment I’ve reviewed, I highly recommend only using the “battles” options as practice for the battles in the campaign, because the campaign mode’s where it’s at. When you first start, you’ll only have the option to play as one of the three houses of Rome, initially, but more factions can be unlocked though gameplay, as you obliterate other civilizations and assimilate them into your hold.
So, you have three choices for your family. Do you choose house Julii, and become a member of one of the most ancient and respected families in the Roman Republic? You’ll take the name of Gaius Julius Lulus, a well-respected counsel of the ancient times, and of course, Gaius Julius Caesar who would go on to found the Cesarean Dynasty of emperors. Perhaps you’d rather hang with the well-respected founders of the republic, House Brutii? Your family’s patriarch of old, Lucius Junius Brutus, founded the republic, and Marcus Brutus, the famed killer of the tyrant dictator Julius Caesar. Lastly, there’s the reputable house Scipii, whose family is not necessarily populated with famous emperors, but rather respectable generals and military leaders.
Although I make it sound like a huge choice of epic proportions, that last section was mostly an excuse for me to shell out my historical knowledge on the ancient era. In reality, this choice is ultimately meaningless, and only dictates the general area of the map you’ll be playing in. Julii plays up in Northern Europe; Scipii hangs around south Italy and North Africa, while Brutii prefers the rest of Italy and Asia Minor. If you look around online, you’re sure to see turn by turn guides of where to and how to play the game from each position, what you should do, and who you should do it to, but this selection is ultimately an asthenic one. I really do wish they did more with this feature, but as you can see, Creative Assembly (the game’s makers) put their resources into other much, much more important parts of the game, which I’m very thankful for.
If you’re familiar with the engine of Medieval II (here’s the link again), you’ll find the playstyle of these two games to be very similar. They use the same engine, which means that the gameplay mechanics, graphics, and assets are going to be very similar between these two games, and just looking at a side by side comparison of the two is great evidence for this. Because of this, most of the observations I’m going to make hear are going to sound a lot like the ones I made before.
You’ll first notice when playing that the game is turned-based, which means instead of happening real time, the games is played is hundreds of unlimited timed turns, much like a board game. Despite messing with the timeframe a bit, it works best to show off the games more strategic side. Whereas in a game Like Europa Univeralis, where it feels like you’re playing the role of the king and are consistently taking part in the action, this game style makes it feel like you’re on the sidelines plotting ahead of the action, playing the game as a strategist for the king to make his next move. As such, you’ll have access to maps, which you need to deploy diplomats out into the world to update constantly, current government standings, diplomatic relations, family relations, and all sorts of other systems to keep track of at any given time to maintain order in your domain.
In addition, the game is unique in its insistency on using real time battles alongside the turn-based mechanics. As you use your economy to create new soldiers, you can stack them up into armies, and parade them around the map to guard key chokepoints, raid cities, and fight enemy armies. As you do this, you have the option to either have the battle fought automatically, or command all the units yourself. I personally prefer to auto resolve all the battles and only take part in key sieges or evenly matched fights. As I said before, if you want to get better at these, the “battles” section from before is good practice, but many who are familiar with this type of gameplay may find these segment easy.
If you’re still playing as one of the Roman factions, you’ll soon find that one of the most dynamic features in the game is the proper maintenance of the Roman Senate, and the senate system. All the factions in the world, including the three owned by the three main families of the Republic are viewed by the senate on a level from one to ten, where ten is the best, and one is the worst. This ranking demonstrates the popularity each faction has with the senate, but in addition to that, the three factions of Rome also have a standing with the people. If the people like you, that’s either good or bad, depending on what you’re going for. If you want to keep the Republic together, you’ll keep this rating as low as possible. If you want to please the people, don’t be surprised when the senate tells your leader to kill himself for the greater good of Rome. If you refuse, get ready for a war: you’re going to have to battle and destroy all of Rome to take control, and they aren’t going to surrender, under any circumstance. If you’re in for a challenge from this game, this is definitely it: winning this war, especially during the late game, is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish.
The End Game
If you’re playing as a Roman faction, the end game is no doubt fighting and winning against the Roman Republic, kick starting the Roman Empire. The game officially ends upon completing a set objective by conquering a set number of provinces which you choose at the start of the game, however it’s both possible to play on pass the “official” ending of the game, and it’s much more fun to create your own objectives and see how far you can go with that. If you’ve finished playing the game as Rome and want to try something new, why not play another game as a lesser faction? After a Rome campaign, I like to take a trip down to Egypt and see how big I can get, and how far I can work myself into the Republic before one of the Roman factions goes to war with you. If you thought fighting a broken Roman Republic was hard enough as one of the former, strong member of Rome, it’s significantly harder fight all three of them from the outside as a lesser player. I forgot to mention it earlier, but pretty much every faction that isn’t a Roman one SUCKS, so playing as one, challenging Rome, and actually coming out on top is a real test of your skills.
There are a few extra features hidden in the game they you may not notice or make use of on your first play through. For example, around 3 BC, Jesus, a Jewish prophet you may familiar with, is born in Jerusalem, and causes a ton of trouble in the Middle East. Should you follow history and have him assassinated, or spare his life and let him ravage the Holy land. Have you noticed the Wonder’s yet? The Seven Wonders of the World makes an appearance in the game, all of which provide unique bonuses that enhance your empires power. If you decide to get the gold edition of the game, (which is now almost as cheap as the regular version), you’ll have access to two new games, taking place during two different times. The “Alexander” expansion lets to you play during the Greek golden age of Alexander the Great, where the empire of Macedonia still reigns supreme, or if you’d rather, “Barbarian Invasion” lets you play as the newly Christianized East and West Roman Empires, recently split, but now under attack from barbarian attacks. Can you make Macedonia the greatest empire in history, or keep the once great Romans from falling?
I give three scores: from the average player, to the most seasoned gamer, what do I rate it?
For a regular gamer, this game’s fun, interesting, and especially to those unfamiliar with the franchise, or strategy games in general, and an interesting and awesome new experience to try out: an 81/100. The gameplay is much simpler than the average strategy game, and the real time battles are an interesting and welcome addition to the mix that makes for a great experience.
For an expert, this games is still fun (especially if you’re a fan of the series), but no doubt leaves at least a little left to be desired, which I why Rome TW earns an 80/100. Right around where the average player falls, the pro score is knocked down slightly just because of how it handles the stagey gameplay. It may be impressive for the time, and may have left a lasting impression on countless players, including myself, but it doesn’t go one step above in complexity to get a score any higher.
As for my rating, the game earns a decently respectable rating of 77/100. Sure, it’s not as high as the 8’s 9’s and 10’s the game gets from other sources, but at a 7.7, it’s nearly there. I love the gameplay, it has replayability, and you can play it for hours on end, but it’s still missing something. Like I mentioned before with the houses, I really with they did more with story elements. Either way, still a fun game deserving a lot of praise.
Thanks for reading, everyone! If you found this review helpful, informative, or interesting, please let me know down below. All it takes is a click here or over on my social media to show that you all are reading my work and enjoy reading it! If you have any comments or suggestions, you can leave those down below too (it helps me write better in the future)! Once again, thanks for reading everyone; don’t touch that dial! There’s more social commentary to come on my blog.
Last Article: What Could a Brain Chip Do?
What's Your School Rep Actually Worth? – Editorial
5 Apps for AR - Society Smash
Is Big Business Good? - Editorial
The Schafer Web-Log
Articles, Reviews, Futurism, Current Events, and More!