It’s the time for Total War: Rome II to see the light of the day and reach PCs strategy gamers. Creative Assembly has promised a great game, a worthy descendant of Rome: Total War. The final result is not really the expected one.
The game starts good and bad at the same time. The good part is that the player gets a mini-campaign/ tutorial that introduces the player to the atmosphere and explains most of the things he can do in the game. The bad part is that since the first fight he enters, the player is hit by technical problems, especially unexpectedly low framerate on the ” pretties ” settings.
The game campaign varies by the faction chosen. We caqn choose from the following camps available with the game’s release on the market: Roman Republic, Carthage, Macedonia, Iceni, Arverne, Suebs, Parthia, Egypt and Pontus. Beside these, the Greek States Culture Pack DLC adds three more: Athens, Epirus and Sparta. In the near future will be placed in the game the Seleucids too, for free.
Obviously, each side comes with its own characteristics, and the game experience is very different depending on the chosen faction. For example, the Roman Republic enjoys much more discipline and organization than some tribal groups, and this is evident during campaigns and battles.
Technologies that can be researched also differ depending on faction and give each some economic or tactical advantages. The same goes for buildings that can be built in each of the regions conquered.
As in previous games, a part of the game takes place on a map called the Campaign Map, and the other part takes place on the battlefield. The Campaign Map action takes place in “laps” and can be taken strategic decisions for faction such as the initiation of commercial treaties, building new armies, initiate technological researches, creating temporary settlements or military deployment of troops to attack either water or ground. The number of actions which can be performed during a lap is limited.
The actual action of the game is on the Campaign Map when initiating armed conflict. This is conducted combat operations in real time and the player’s ability to think Stategy is tested.
Soldiers are on the battlefield ready to fight, and the player must take the battle to victory using his troops in the most efficient way possible, which is becoming increasingly easier by the time of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each unit . At first, however, will not be easy at all.
There is a limit to the number of armies that a faction can lead them and an overall limit of the size of an army, and this encourages the construction of large and powerful army, instead of many small armies. So the battles take place on a large scale and are spectacular. There are many types of units that can be recruited into the army, so the player can compose army after his own taste.
Each army must be led by a general who in turn constitute in the combat troops on the battlefield. Also, the General can be “upgraded” with new skills that will help him in battle.
Because talk about politics, it should be noted that the management of Rome II regions has been simplified. The regions are divided into provinces, and now can be taken important decisions at provincial level, such as raising or lowering taxes, depending on how satisfied are or aren’t the citizens of the province. There are up to four regions in a province (which of one may constitute a fortified town), so the game release the player from a lot of extra clicks and headaches when it controls many regions. On the other hand, diehard fans of the series might regret not having the same level of control they had in previous titles.
But let’s talk about fights. An particular importance on the battlefield has the system of line of sight that is well implemented and adds a new dimension to the game strategy. If the player’s troops don’t have direct eye contact with enemy troops, the coming of enemies can not be anticipated. However, if you look to the plain bands on the side of a hill, they would see the enemy troops, and the type and location of each enemy units will appear on the monitor.
Also, troops hiding in the woods makes them invisible and allows them creating ambushes.
If we’re talking about hills, vertical positioning of troops is very important. It is perhaps one of the most basic strategic rules that troops positioned at height have an advantage over those who do not enjoy the same height. This was true in the others Total War strategy games, and the Rome II is truer than ever. In addition, lowering the hills and troops and the clash with opponents of the field produce a spectacular result which takes into account the inertia of the falling ones, virtually decimating effects units during forceful collision.
Also, unlike other strategy games, Rome II reinstall the idea of Friendly Fire On , so if during the collision of forces you order the archers to attack from the distance, even their own soldiers captured in battle will be pierced by arrows .
But not everything is pink. The game interface, Campaign and during the Battle Map, are unsatisfactory. Adapting the interface takes some time, and looks like the game often fails to convey some basic information. Moreover, there are times when Rome II forces the player to take a particular decision, without offer him the informations needed to make a decision based on knowledge of the context and thr effect of the decision.
Fortunately, at least for combat units, technologies, skills, buildings and even resources are enough information in an encyclopedia of the game, a kind of wiki that opens in a new window, above all others. This section has the role of game manual.
Returning to the fights, I have to say that the AI, although generally improved over the previous game, has some great new problems. And this applies both to the own troops and the enemy. For example, I ordered the whole army to reposition on one side, and some of the units felt that the fastest way to that point is to go around the city and move to 10-20 meters from the enemy soldiers.
In turn, the enemies did not react to the passing of my troops completely vulnerable in front of them. Even in the Campaign Map, AI take some illogical decisions sometimes.
Beyond AI, bothered me very much the camera during fights. Each zooming level (zoom) or away from the ground resets the camera angle from the ground to a predefined setting, regardless of the angle which the player uses at a time. The camera is a problem in Campaign Map too, given that it doesn’t allows a very high zoom out and scrolling through the territories becomes cumbersome. Beyond these shortcomings, there are good parts in this segment: camera allows viewing of the soldiers from their level, there is even a start option of a ” cinematic camera ” which follows a unit almost like through the eyes of a soldier.
By far the biggest problem of the game is that, and I say this with regret, is unfinished. This is evident when we see glitch sites present everywhere , like clipping, textures disappearing, flying troops or enemies that simply can not be attacked. Happened to do not even appear on the screen the small Start Battle button that has to be pressed after positioning the troops, so i had to resume the game from the last save. Another time the game froze after a simple minimization.
And that’s not all, the game works terrible even on systems that go far beyond the manufacturers recommended specifications, even on low settings. Depending on the game environment and the number of troops on the screen, the framerate can stand at 15-20 frames per second on a system that’s running other games at maximum settings with ease.
This behavior is not isolated – at this point the game’s official forum is full of such complaints and producers have apologized and promised to release regular patches for repairing the game. Even when framerate goes over 30, there are cases in which troops go slow, ” rerun ” and even activating the fast forward does not make them move as it normally should.
In addition to problems moments, the graphics look pretty good. Fight fields are large, as well as cities, and the crowd of soldiers present on the screen creates a fantastic atmosphere. The sound’s not bad either. Soldiers communicate between them, screams during the fighting, and weapons sounds produce a feeling of immersion.
Total War: Rome II is a game with good ideas, complexity, and serious problems. Manufacturers of Creative Assembly wanted to create the best and the biggest game in the Total War series, but apparently did not correctly assessed the time to complete the game and had to launch the continue of the acclaimed Rome: Total War in a disappointing manner.
Certainly in few months, the patches will solve most of the problems of the game, but what I could test at the moment was a bittersweet experience, which left me only with the hope that over an half a year I’ll reinstall the game and I will be able to enjoy it at its true value. Total War: Rome II has potential, but currently seems to be out in the Beta stage.