Total War: Rome II is a highly acclaimed historical strategy game that brings the glory and chaos of ancient Rome to life. Developed by Creative Assembly, this game offers players the chance to command vast armies, build powerful empires, and engage in epic battles across Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East. In this comprehensive review, we will delve into the captivating gameplay, the immersive setting, and the notable features that make Total War: Rome II a must-play for strategy enthusiasts.
The Perfect Setting for Epic Strategy
Rome has always been the ideal backdrop for the Total War series, and Rome II is no exception. The game presents players with a wide array of powerful empires, each with its own unique strengths and opportunities. Whether you choose to build a maritime trading empire in Africa, assassinate rival generals in Rome, unite German tribes against a common enemy, or defend against war elephants with Greek hoplites in narrow mountain passes, Total War: Rome II delivers an exhilarating and visually stunning experience.
Managing Your Empire
The core of the campaign game in Total War: Rome II revolves around managing the civic infrastructure required to commission and maintain your armies and navies. This aspect of the game has always been a challenge in the Total War series, but Rome II introduces a provincial-management system that streamlines the process without sacrificing depth. Instead of micromanaging every region individually, you now manage them as part of larger provincial units. For example, Italy, with its 11 regions, can be managed as three large groups. This system not only lightens the management load but also allows for specialization and rewards strategic decision-making.
Each region in Total War: Rome II has limited building slots, requiring careful consideration when constructing temples, aqueducts, farms, barracks, and ports. The new provincial system adds an exciting layer of decision-making, as each section can be conquered individually, with only one per province having city walls. This makes sieges rarer and more significant, as taking an unwalled town still involves urban combat but without the predictable gate and tower assaults.
Province-Wide Edicts and Specialization
Owning all the regions within a province in Total War: Rome II grants you a small benefit and the ability to enact province-wide edicts. These edicts can boost a province’s abilities in key areas and add another level of specialization to your strategy. If you have recently conquered a province with a different culture, you might want to encourage assimilation with your culture through an edict. On the other hand, if the province already aligns with your culture, an edict that improves tax rates or food supply might be more beneficial. This additional layer of specialization allows for refined strategies without requiring excessive micromanagement.
The choice of faction in Total War: Rome II also plays a significant role in the level of interest and opportunity available. Playing as one of the major powers provides ample opportunities for growth and shaping your empire. However, playing as one of the Germanic tribes requires more time and effort to achieve the same impact as playing as Rome.
Streamlined Army Management
Army management has also been streamlined in Total War: Rome II. With recruitment and mustering now focused on generals and admirals rather than regions, preparing for assaults and maneuvering across the map has become more efficient. The game introduces limitations on the number of armies and navies you can field, emphasizing the use of larger forces rather than numerous smaller ones. While these restrictions enhance the speed and focus of the campaign game, it’s worth noting that units cannot take any action without a commander present. This adds a layer of complexity to scouting, reassigning forces, and general shuffling.
The new features of armies in Total War: Rome II, such as promotions and stances, offer players more options for customization. Promotions grant abilities that apply to the entire army and the specific general in command. These promotions allow for specialization in ranged attacks, ambushes, sieges, or battles against barbarians. While the feature adds a touch of story and character to your forces, it may seem somewhat redundant considering the time invested in building the right mix of units, researching technologies, and applying upgrades. Stances, however, provide a more necessary and useful addition. You can switch an army into forced march stance for quick movement across your empire or activate raiding mode to sustain your troops by living off enemy lands. The flexibility to match your army’s attitudes with its current needs each turn adds depth to the gameplay.
The Thrill of Real-Time Tactical Battles
The real-time tactical battles in Total War: Rome II are unparalleled in their stunning detail and immersive experience. The game boasts impressive unit models, intricate animations, and a wide variety of unit types. Each battle feels immediate and intense, with a sense of being right in the midst of the action. The combatants engage in fierce clashes, creating a realistic and engaging spectacle. The hundreds of available unit types may initially seem overwhelming, but for players who enjoy delving into the nuances of unit stats and composing armies to suit their preferred strategies, the options are boundless.
Complexity and Challenges
Total War: Rome II offers a complex and interrelated system, which can sometimes be a double-edged sword. The political system, for instance, presents missions and Senate approval rankings that seem to lack meaningful impact. The choices presented often lack context, leaving players to make decisions without a clear understanding of the consequences. Additionally, certain aspects of the game suffer from vagueness and unhelpfulness, requiring players to dig for information or navigate through multiple screens.
The interface and AI in Total War: Rome II have their share of flaws. Wonky pathfinding and erratic AI behavior, particularly in smaller battles and sieges, can be frustrating. Instances where armies futilely attack walls or ignore open gates detract from the overall experience. While these issues are not persistent, they do occur and can disrupt an otherwise enjoyable turn.
Verdict: A Captivating Strategy Experience
Total War: Rome II offers a captivating strategy experience that is rich in historical detail and immersive gameplay. The game strikes a balance between fun and realism, allowing players to shape their own victories and defeats. While the interface and AI flaws may pose challenges, the game’s strengths overshadow these issues. The visually striking battles, engaging campaign systems, and vast strategic possibilities make Total War: Rome II a game worth savoring, even with its flaws and frustrations.
In conclusion, Total War: Rome II delivers an unparalleled historical strategy experience set in ancient Rome. The game’s attention to detail, immersive gameplay, and strategic depth make it a standout title in the Total War series. Despite some interface and AI flaws, the captivating battles, robust campaign systems, and endless strategic possibilities are sure to keep strategy enthusiasts engaged for hours on end. Step into the shoes of a Roman general and prepare to conquer the ancient world in Total War: Rome II.