Activision declares Rome: Total War available

The Creative Assembly-developed ancient-world RTS has finally begun its retail campaign.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was Rome: Total War, Activision's sprawling strategy game set in the age of the Caesars. This latest chapter in Creative Assembly's Total War series was first unveiled in January 2003, and today Activision announced that the cutting-edge RTS has marched out of the factory and will arrive in stores shortly.

As outlined in GameSpot's preview of a near-final build, Rome: Total War is a strategy game of epic scope. The overarching structure of its single-player campaign is turn-based, with players donning the toga of a rising general whose family is vying for control of the Roman senate. At first, you will earn influence by completing missions assigned by the senate. Eventually, though, you will grow powerful enough to replace the senate with an emperor--from your clan, naturally.

While the single-player campaign can be played as a strictly turn-based affair, the meat on Rome: Total War's bones is its detailed real-time strategy battles. Based on an all-new engine, the real-time strategy battles will feature motion-captured combat re-created with graphics sporting up to 10,000 polygons. There will be hundreds of different troop types available, with legionaries, hoplites, barbarian hordes, war elephants, gladiators, and scythe chariots, as well as war machines like siege towers, battering rams, and catapults that hurl flaming missiles into enemy cities and strongholds. A variety of ancient factions--including the Romans, Carthaginians, Goths, Greeks, and Gauls--will be playable in the game's online mode, which will support up to eight players.

Rome: Total War is rated "T" for Teen and bears a suggested retail price of $49.99. GameSpot's full review of the game will be up later this week.

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