The History Channel: Great Battles of Rome First Impressions

This tactical battle game will let you wage more than 100 Roman battles with armies that you can train and customize.

With a name like The History Channel: Great Battles of Rome, it's not too difficult to figure out what this game is about. Developed by Slitherine Software, Great Battles of Rome is a tactical battle simulator that lets you control Roman legions in battle against their many foes. Like Slitherine's previous games, Great Battles of Rome focuses just on battles. There's no strategic layer that presents you with a map of the Roman world, so you don't have to worry about moving armies around the map or managing cities. All you have to worry about is managing your army, both in and between battles.

Always remember, "Veni, Vedi, Vici."

There will be more than 100 battles in the game, divided among 14 Roman campaigns. They're all linear, too, so you must win a battle in order to progress to the next one. Most battles will be won and lost in the planning phase, before the fighting even begins. During the planning phase, you deploy your troops onto the battlefield, taking into account terrain and tactics. You'll then give them initial orders and formations for when the battle starts. For instance, you might want infantry to hold in place, and cavalry to move forward and charge. Your opening moves and stances will be critical, because once the battle begins you won't be able to micromanage it. Instead, you'll have only a limited number of points, which you can use to issue orders. That's to model the difficulty of generals to manage a battle once it has begun.

Should you win the battle, you'll move on to the army management screen, which lets you recruit and customize squads. You can control up to 20 different squads, consisting of more than 20 troop types. There are infantry, cavalry, archers, and whatever else you'd expect from this era in history, such as elephants. You earn gold for winning battles, and you can use it to purchase new squads, replace losses in existing squads, pay for specialized training for squads, or buy better weapons and equipment for your troops. The amount of customization and training is extensive, so you can really make your squads feel like your own. Once everything is set up the way you want, you'll launch into the next battle.

The battles are historically based, so you may battle Germanic barbarians in the North or campaign in much warmer climes. Each battle presents a different tactical challenge thanks to the terrain. Rough terrain might make things difficult for mounted units and ideal for infantry, while open terrain reverses the situation. Woods or hills might create obstacles that can be used to your advantage. You'll also need to study the composition of the enemy force and its deployments. If you see a weakness in their lines, figure a way to exploit it. You don't need to kill everyone in order to win a battle. That rarely happens in history. Instead, you just need to kill enough of them to make the survivors panic and flee.

Elephants were the Roman equivalent to tanks.

All of this is pretty standard for a Slitherine game, though the partnership with The History Channel will add a multimedia gloss to everything. There will be around 50 minutes of footage taken from various History Channel programs about Ancient Rome, as well as a soundtrack and voice-overs. Meanwhile, the in-game graphics are comparable to those of previous Slitherine games. You can move the camera around for a close-up look that will look a bit like the battles in the popular strategy game Rome: Total War, or you can pull back and get a bird's-eye view of the entire battlefield. Great Battles of Rome is a game that's geared to Rome buffs, but its relatively simple-to-pick-up gameplay mechanics might also be welcome to those who dislike complex strategy games. The game ships this September.

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45 comments
Heavenlysword77
Heavenlysword77

This game is so cool, I don't care what any of you say I want it!!!!!

Dman2441
Dman2441

i havent played it can u download it

ug_f90
ug_f90

well mtw2 really is not a good game for those that been playing its games since shogun. Once the total war series start to loose poeple becasue of new games there is were gamers start to get better quality products for the moment mtw2 is just good graphics but sucks in the rest. left the game in the 4 day after playing with 3 factions. just want to say this europa universalis 3 is a good example now i go more for thier game than tw series

acecs1989
acecs1989

This game is going to be sweet! I am a big fan of Rome:TW and can't wait to try this similar game. The history channel will ensure that this has a high level of historical accuracy which will make it much more interesting.

gamerbane
gamerbane

looks like a fun game and definitely want to get it

WhiteBalla
WhiteBalla

History Channel plus video games...sweet!

eikmaster
eikmaster

Will it be possible to play custom battles? Like in RTW? Not only those hundred battles.

Termite551
Termite551

Stop yelling killswitch jim. Anyway I think that this is gonna be a lot like Rome total war, but they will try to make it more realistic. Unfortunately roman history is very diverse...and long. I don't think one game could have all the different strategies and tactics and nuances of the real roman empire.

Andreagiallo
Andreagiallo

only thing that annoys me are the graphics of the game other wise worth buying

KillswitchJim
KillswitchJim

NOT MAKING FUN OF THIS GAME,IT LOOKS GREAT,AND SOUNDS GREAT!!!! BUT,DOES ROME TOTAL WAR,OR ANY OF THE TOTAL WAR GAMES RING A BELL,AND FROM THE GAME PICKS IT LOOKS SO FAMILUER!!!! IM SUSE I WILL GET INTO IT,BUT I WOULD WAIT FOR IT TO GO DOWN IN PRICE DEOSNT LOOK AS GOOD AS THE TOTAL WAR GAMES!!!! BUT 100 HUNDRED BATTLES DOES SOUND AWESOME,AND THE CONCEPT DOES SOUND GREAT!!!! SO,I GUESS I JUST HAVE TO WAIT,AND SEE WHEN IT COMES OUT FOR WORD OF MOUTH AS FOR HOW GOOD IT BE!!!!

iatrei
iatrei

Hannibal had to come over the Alps because he was exiled from Carthage by the Romans. He used his campaign across southern Gaul to acquire the troops he needed to attack Rome and its allies. The elephant attack was just psychological since it took him so long to get from Iberia to the Italian Peninsula thus seeing the elephants die of old age. Rome's navy was a joke at this time and only got somewhat decent under Pompey the Great. This game looks interesting though I doubt it is anywhere accurate since Rome employed different strategies in order to deal with different barbarians and different hired barbarians (auxiliary) fought instead of the Roman legions which were used as manual labor. For example, archers against the naked Germanic tribes. Plus, if this gets into later Rome they will have to make the armies into complete jokes since Constantine put heavy armor on his troops destroying their maneuverability.

Dularaki
Dularaki

well....I dont want to be a party pooper...this game look "ok"...of course....cant judge a book by its cover...but I would perfer the Total War type of game...nice graphics...the empire building...cites...missions...forts...all the commerce...i just love that part of the game and the battles resulting from the map....anyway...I got RTW....this game just would be a back in time thing....its a very nice concept...for ppl who want to pick up and put it down...I am just afraid that something like RTW and espeacailly M2TW will over shadow this game : /

M_Kroll
M_Kroll

Just to clarify -- it's not that you have no control over your troops during combat. It's just that it is more difficult to effectively do so during the battle if you have not set your units up properly using their relative strengths, covering their relative weaknesses, planning to employ the terrain in your favor, etc. Also, there is an "arcade mode" that you can turn on, if you prefer, which essentially lifts the restriction on generals being able to issue only limited orders once the battle starts and only equal to their relative experience and skill level. As far as Legion Arena, the games share a basic engine lineage, so the award winning game engine will also show up in The History Channel(R) Great Battles of Rome. I think, personally, it's a very clever mechanic and fans of Legion Arena will definitely enjoy this title as well. I'll see if we can get a feature piece done on the general's abilities and post it here or on our official website or one of the history gaming sites. I'll let you know. Mario

Nuclear_Kernel
Nuclear_Kernel

RytOnMn if you watched the TV series Rome I would have seen that the enemies of Cezar employed elephants in the North African campaign. The game has the real time battle engine which still looks cool this engine was used by History Channel to re- enact some famous battles. I am bit curious of the RPG qualities of the general.

ramenbum
ramenbum

This game looks exactly like Legion Arena.

ntnimara
ntnimara

I never knew there was this sort of game around... haha... at firt I checked to see if it was a Rome: Total War mod or something... anyway... it is interesting, I like the troop specializtion thing, and am pozitive on the general no control thing (although I get the feeling it may be poorly implemented)... yea I think this game is worthwhile :)

amirtheonly
amirtheonly

I see this game looks Legion Arena. Absolutely simple, and I absolutely loved it! I'll probably get this one too when the reviews are up...

RytOnMn
RytOnMn

@ M_Kroll: Cheers for the info, very much appreciated. I do love the TW series and yes, it can require users to invest a lot of time. This game is of interest to me since, while I'm certainly no expert, I am an enthusiast. I also agree that people should be able to try each title and judge it on its own merits but at the same time it was inevitable that it would be compared to total war, at least now the differences and concepts have been clearly defined, thanks again for that. Price tag (I'm in the UK so $29.99 is what, £15 to £20?) That's good news. System specs - also good direction, TW can be a system killer. Besides, games are meant to be played, so "game" + "play" = "gameplay". That's what's important to me, not fanboyism.

M_Kroll
M_Kroll

Disclaimer: I do PR for this game's PC version publisher. ======================================================= - The experience system works in that units that participate actively in battle and achieve enemy kills will gain experience. Experience can be used to increase skills. Skills can be passive or active skills, if you will, or better put, tactical or strategic, and depend on unit type. The general, your main character, can either focus on skills such as weapons or defensive/armor, or else focus on battlefield leadership skills that may allow more last-minute orders to be issued once the battle starts. It depends on whether you see your leader as one that plans and then stands by, calling plays (to borrow a sports analogy) or an actual powerful combat unit. You can make units more adept at their weapon or armor usage, make them tougher against certain units (through increases in resilience to certain types of units, or by making them anti-unit type units), and grow them in other areas. Another specific example: cavalry units can improve their special trample attack, can focus on becoming more resistant to archers or infantry (or cavalry), can become special anti-infantry or anti-cavalry units, etc. There is also fame and money, gained for winning decisive battles or those where the odds are not in your favor. Fame allows the general to recruit more elite units from the get-go (you start out with essentially a historically appropriate peasant army) but money can be spent on recruitment or on purchasing upgraded weapons, boots, armor, helmets, or even standards (flags that help units rally, be braver and strike fear into the hearts of opponents through their mere presence on the battlefield). - As far as "why not Total War: X" - They are different games. This is a light RPG/Strategy hybrid. It's meant to focus on the planning between and just prior to battle, just as many historical battles in this time period were fought. Once the stuff hits the fan, many leaders were able to only issue few effective orders, and then only to the best trained and skilled units. It is meant as a more accessible, fun game that doesn't require one invest hours in a single session nor worry about the global management of Rome as a nation. It's about building up your army and planning proper tactics and strategies. Our title also has lower system requirements and is a bit easier to grasp (although I love the entire Total War series as well). Why not play both games -- is there some mutual exclusivity rule I'm missing? - Footage -- I caught one other comment about 50 minutes of footage not being enough. The game does a nice job of having a professional actor narrating the history of Rome from its stage of warring tribes to emergence into solid monarchies and then the Republic. From there, the focus turned outward rather than fighting amongst the tribes. This game spans that entire history and offers both a nice, high quality The History Channel introduction that sets the stage, followed by cut scenes at key transition moments in history. It's meant for folks that like history, like Rome, might like strategy games, or perhaps have even been scared away from the genre by games that are tough to play and require hours per session to enjoy. - The graphics are so-so --- We don't make any bones about this; this isn't and Unreal x based game. It's a strategy game. It's meant to run on a mid-grade PC that a casual gamer might own rather than only on machines that are super rigs. It was planned that way and we think that the game play and the production values, coupled with a reasonable price of $29.99 (for the PC version) more than make up for graphics that might not be the latest, greatest (but are still fully functional and quite enjoyable). We'll release some more screens and game play videos in the coming weeks as we near the game's North American release, so you can see more of what it's all about. Hope that's helpful. Mario

eikmaster
eikmaster

I wonder how the experience system would work. What improvements is there in the next level of a unit? Is it the meaning that when an legionnaire levels up, he can take more hits or he will become stronger and fight better, etc.

Big_Boy12
Big_Boy12

Actually, the battles in this game are mostly historically accurate. Also, the Romans did employ elephants in Africa at times, just not on a very large scale.

RytOnMn
RytOnMn

@ Valaggar / El_Conquest, Naval invasion was out of the question anyway because the Romans had naval supremacy at the time. Carthage had supremacy until one of their ships crashed off the coast of Sicily which was dismantled by the Romans and they found all the parts were marked / numbered. This gave them the blueprints to build their own fleet since at the time Carthaginian vessels were better. Back on topic though, the Q&A interview mentions the 3rd campaign is "Mythical". How can those battles be historically accurate if they never really happened? I think maybe they felt the game was too short and they needed extra content perhaps.

rosscero
rosscero

well...if it's like Total War series, it's good...+ the historical features,direct from history chanel =x

El_Conquest
El_Conquest

@Kweeni, Hannibal was from Carthage... @Valaggar, thats if the elephants didn't weigh the ships down first, and also if the ships were made of wood without iron reienforcing the joints it doesn't take much for someone to notice the elephants one moment and suddenly look back the next and notice not an elephant but a hole as wide as the elephant filling the ship with water.. I getcha..

kweeni
kweeni

looks fun but i rather stick to the total war series btw, i tought the romans didnt have ele in their army but the carthaginians did

uberjannie
uberjannie

50 minutes? Thats nothing. Come on, bring us 2 hours, at least. What would the point else be to play a history channel game? BAH!

Valaggar
Valaggar

@El_Conquest: If Hannibal was to use a large maritime fleet, the Romans would've spotted him, and good riddance to his surprise attack!

RytOnMn
RytOnMn

Yeah, cheers for that Szajon, this is what I get for trying to bring some culture to the group eh? Totally shown up ! LOL. You're absolutely right, it was Barca, don't I feel stupid right now.... (Note to self - don't be so impetuous when posting) At least Lecter could've chowed down on some of the elephants and troops that didn't make it ;-)

Szajon
Szajon

This seems like an interesting concept. I like how it's completely focused on the battles... I'm might pick it up for less than $20. And RytOnMn- wasn't it Hannibal Lecter.... jking... I mean Barca....

Wilmc
Wilmc

Seems interesting, I wouldn't mind giving it a try. I would probably stick with Rome: Total War though. The whole thing sounds like you don't get to do much on the battlefield. Set up, play, try to issue 10 orders, grab popcorn and watch.

El_Conquest
El_Conquest

I remember that about Hannibal, though I could never understand why he would take 4 Ton (give or take one or two tons) of rawhide through, the ever dangerous for elephants, Alps. I assumed when they said that this was one of the grestest straegies ever thought up, that he was to take a huge fleet of galliesses from carthage and land them at some weak point like say near the Alps but not on them, such as what is now called Milan.. I guess in the end it was better to risk the phants on the hills than to fill a rikkety barge with the same weight...

RytOnMn
RytOnMn

@ Dematrion: hahaha, if only! But no, he was the greatest general of Carthaginian Empire, he took elephants across the Alps from Spain and on to Rome and brought them to their knees, almost destroyed them completety. Unfortunately, jealousy back in Carthage saw him receive no reinforcements to finish the job and consequently the Romans regrouped, reformed their armies, sailed to Africa and wiped out Carthage some 7 years or so later.

yian
yian

The graphics could use some work. Feels like Total War guys did a better job with Rome.

Dematrion
Dematrion

Hannibal Barker? Is that Bob Barker's son?

RytOnMn
RytOnMn

I thought it was Hannibal Barca that was famous for using elephants against the Romans, don't remember Rome adopting their use apart from mercenaries possibly, they trained their troops to form "corridors of death" when facing them later on in the punic wars in north Africa. I think I'll stick to Rome and Medieval TW, they're historically accurate enough for me, granted, it's not perfect, but it's got empire building and 3D battles - and armoured war elephants, and elephants with cannons on 'em in M2:TW.

generalish
generalish

Why not just by the Total War series box set for the same price as this game when it comes out.

can0of0cheese
can0of0cheese

I don't know about you guys but when i see "history channel" in a name of a game i fail to see how that poor game is going to sell copies at all.

nguyenlong311
nguyenlong311

LOL, The Idea sounds great but the graphic looks bad. Wasting my 8800GTX card LOL. If its free, I might even scratch my head hard even to install this game. I like the concept thought Hope Rome 2: Totalwar adopt the concept .

Battitz
Battitz

almost, if not all, of the other history channel games have been a major disappointment. i hope this one does not follow the trend :)

bobstos
bobstos

Yeah, too bad all their games suck. seriously people, stick to Rome:Total War.

Willy105
Willy105

Kinda interesting the History Channel getting interested in the game business.