One of my favourite series of games, the Total War series is (to me) the epitome of strategy and fun. I have been a veteran of hundreds of campaigns, across Roman Italy, Medieval England, Colonial Britain and even commanded Samurai thanks to Total War. I absolutely love all aspects of their previous games, but how does this game fare when compared to previous titles. Does this game live up to all of the hype, or does it flounder and sink below the high mark of previous Total War games. Let’s find out!
First off, Rome 2: Total War has a great tutorial. One of the problems of many of the older Total War games was the learning curve. Many of the tutorials were badly designed, or tedious, making it tough to learn the more advanced concepts. This is no longer the case. I am pleased to be able to report a brilliant tutorial, full of battles, and campaign expertise. Much Improved.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the campaign side of things. One of the strongest points of all previous Total War games was the campaign map, and the high level strategy. Unfortunately, although these features returned, they felt highly complex and cumbersome compared to previous games. I believe this is due to several new systems that are at the core of this new game. Previously, cities in Total War were managed independently, and therefore could be expanded many different ways e.g. you could dedicate to Military purposes and then change the focus to economy when the front lines moved away. This is now much harder and costlier, due to the province system.
In this new game, the province system has changed. Previously, a province contained a single city, with farms and workshops scattered around sometimes. Now, a province is a vast swathe of land, containing up to 4 different settlements/cities. When you conquer a province, you can sometimes issue an “Edict”, which can cause positive effects, such as more food, or more happiness/less unrest. This means, in order to stabilise a city in a province, you first need to destabilise it by conquering the rest of the province, in order to re-stabilize it later. This has caused me many a hiccup in my campaigns. Veterans be warned, this game is a completely different beats!
The other glaringly obvious issue is the Army/Legion system. Now, every single unit must be accompanied by a general. Now this is not a problem in previous games, as you can hire infinite generals, or leave troops garrisoning a settlement/fighting small battles without a general. Well, not anymore. You now need to use one of your highly limited number of generals to lead every single army. No more 50 small armies. You are forced to use very few armies, and this leads to many pyrrhic victories, as your opponents massive army faces off with your own. I absolutely hate this feature, and wish Creative Assembly had not doe this.
However, other than these gripes, the game remains one of the best in the business. The graphics are superb, and look amazing at the “Extreme” preset. Unfortunately, this takes an awful lot of graphical horsepower though, as my dual SLI 780m’s often struggle with this setting on large battles. But overall, graphically this game is amazing, and for a strategy game, this is high praise indeed. I personally feel this is the Battlefield 3 of the strategy genre, as the graphics are far ahead of most other games. However, don’t be put off if you don’t have the ultimate gaming rig. On Low graphics settings, this game played perfectly on my old 3rd generation i3 processor, without any form of dedicated graphics. This range of performance is highly impressive.
Also, although some of the new gameplay editions (mentioned earlier) are not very nice, the core gameplay remains highly similar, and is the best in genre to me. The blend of Real-Time-Strategy, and High-Level-Strategy is perfect, and not found in any other game. Believe me, I have tried to find similar games, and the only one that comes even slightly close is the Hegemony series.
However, it is not all plain sailing. The game suffered many crashes and issues from the outset, and although most of these have been patched, the game still suffers from stuttering, CTD’s (crashes to desktop) and similar faults every now and again. So, SAVE OFTEN!
Overall, I would award Rome 2: Total War a 4 out of 5, for being the best in niche. I would highly recommend this game, and would suggest buying it. However, if you have been put off by my issues with some of the new features, but still want the Total War experience, then please check out some of the older games such as Empire: Total War, Medieval 2: Total War, Shogun 2: Total War and even other games such as previously mentioned Hegemony.
Thanks for reading this article. It has been a pleasure writing this, and I hope I have provided people with something to think about at least. This has been brought to you by Xtreme Gaming Solutions Limited, a company building custom gaming computers and offering the widest range of high end gaming components available in the UK. Please visit our website (xtreme-gaming-solutions.co.uk) for further information.