Rome wasn’t built in a day, but “Rome 2: Total War,” the newest addition to the critically acclaimed “Total War” series, certainly was. “Rome 2” had the capacity to be the most engrossing and enduring title yet. Unfortunately, it fell a tad short of its potential. It’s plagued by bugs, poor optimization, less than adequate artificial intelligence, and other shortcomings of that nature. Yet, even with all of the inadequa- cies that developer “Creative Assem- bly” has stricken this game with, it shows considerable promise.
The graphic fidelity of the game is impressive, but not to the extent of crippling powerful desktop comput- ers that can plow through all other modern applications. Additionally, the game has been optimized poorly, resulting in occasional game-break- ing crashes.The shoddy optimization is indicative of “Creative Assembly” rushing the game, likely to meet its deadline. This is understandable, as it is a far-reaching game and one that history buffs and gamers alike have eagerly awaited. However, it’s rea- sonable to assume that fans would postpone their military campaigns if it means a higher quality product.
The campaign layout is similar to previous titles; players make ad- ditions to their town centers, adjust their faction’s tax rate, plan their conquests and recruit generals, ad- mirals and troops to supplement their armies and so on and so forth. Region management is identical to the other games of the series, with the added simplification of region upkeep. Instead of having to expand individual settlements, players now simply access cities and their agri- cultural and industrial trappings by clicking on the regions center of commerce.
The campaign interface is stream- lined; diplomacy is relatively un- touched, with a few new features such as forming a confederation with states or factions that you have good relations with, good graces with fac- tions of similar blood, and so on. The fresh diplomacy features are further accentuated by the assortment of new factions. Cultures are no longer quite as generalized. Instead of Brit- ons, there are now several factions that represent each standing culture, for instance, the Iceni are now ac- companied by several other Celtic tribes. This provides an interesting new campaign dynamic.
Battles are as remarkable as al- ways, Macedonian pikemen form phalanxesto keep cavalry and infan- try at bay, Roman Velites (skirmish- ers) hurl pilum (javelins) into enemy ranks; cavalry and all other manner of shock troops throw themselves into bodies of troops. This is all made
rather visually spectacular with the implementation of “Creative Assem- blies” reworked engine. “Rome 2” focuses on clustered masses of sol- diers engaging in hand to hand com- bat, whereas “Shogun 2” was largely about individual samurai dueling it out, “Rome 2” puts more emphasis on units clashing, and it executes this quite well. Sieges are as huge as ever, with assaults by sea now possi- ble. The defender can choose to sally out and fight tooth and nail outside of its walls or hunker down behind the palisades. Once the walls are breached in some fashion, a series of victory points must be acquired by the faction on the offensive or, al- ternatively, one army must be com- pletely routed or captured.
Though “Rome 2” fails to deliver in many regards, any fans of the se- ries will likely be sufficiently satis- fied by the release. Updates will be supplied on a regular basis; with any luck, this sinking ship can be sal- vaged.