Total War: Rome II is the follow up to the massively popular Total War Rome; the original game in the Total War franchise. The franchise has come a very long way over the years with its unique take on strategy gaming. Unlike almost any other examples within its genre, Total War has always maintained popularity through allowing the player to control armies of thousands in a variety of realistic and historically accurate settings. This has allowed players to strategise on scales closer to the reality of war time battles and explore the many army structures and potential battle plans which such force sizes permit. Total War: Rome II maintains these classic defining features but in turn shows a great deal of individual promise through the improvements which it showcases.
Playing the demo version of the game on show at Rezzed felt a lot smoother than the feel of the previous Total War games I had tried. As well as this there were instantly some fantastic improvements visible which made the game look and feel more pleasing to play. The obvious comparison to draw is with the original Total War Rome game, which may now be a much older member of the franchise but is the natural comparison to make against a second game set in the same regions and era. For one the game looked sharp, very sharp. The detail on infantry, landscapes and in particular the sea was wonderful. The infantry in particular show ever increasing impressiveness in their appearance given the sheer number of them present in each battle. Lighting effects have also been clearly focused upon in this game and compliment the improved graphics through their natural and stunning relationship. The systems of the game felt far more natural than they have previously too. It felt as though there was much simpler, yet more detailed, control available in terms of moving, commanding and activating the abilities of military in order to fully coordinate the battle. Smoothness, if anything, is the real difference which cold be felt from the demo, and it was a very pleasant thing to experience when fighting on such a massive scale. The battlegrounds too appear bigger in Rome II, which allows you to fully play out any tactics which you may desire. Flanking was one which specifically felt easier to carry out with this expanded open space available to be used.
Speaking to one of the developers of the game allowed a further insight into what was new in Rome II. The most interesting change which was described was one to the international relations of the world of the game. Players of the previous Total War titles will be familiar with the fact that diplomacy amongst states and forces can play as large a role as the battles which take place themselves. The AI is now capable of making longer term preparations and decisions which will build up to a greater end. This “planning” is something which players may be able to see, read and interpret to pre-empt the moves of opposing forces and plan for attack or defence in the long term based on what they believe may be building up around them. This will allow for a more realistic style and feel of play and expand on the gameplay tactics which players may be used to. Further to this there has been some improvements made to the experience and generational features which apply to commanders in the game. Longer term experience can be gained and effect the influences and characteristics behind the player’s commanders, so this may benefit the way that some choose to play. The game’s naval battles were also given some praise for the greater level of preparations and command which they demand of the player, again creating a more realistic experience of the commanding role which the player is placed in.
From what I have seen, played and heard at Rezzed, Total War: Rome II is shaping up to be the next great step in one of the greatest and grandest strategy franchises of the modern market. The changes and improvements which have been suggested sound like great moves forwards, and it is almost certain that there is more than simply these which will be revealed by the game’s final release. As for living up to the Rome name in the franchise, I think that fans will be very pleased with what has been developed for Rome II, and new players could equally use this as their first step into the total war world.
Nathan’s Final Thoughts:
Total War: Rome II was fantastic to sit down and play. It has been a while since I have been able to have a crack at a Total War game and Rome II looks like it may be that gateway which I take back into the franchise. The improvements which have been made to the game sound fantastic and I look forward to trying them all of. The ones which I have already been able to experience are excellent, in particular the graphical improvements which have been made. Now I just hope my PC can run it!