Great as an Expansion. But not as good as Original Game.
It takes place several centuries after the original with the Roman Empire in control of most of Europe and the Mediterranean. However the Empire has split into east and west and now the barbarians are knocking on the gates. In the campaign you can be both halves of the Roman Empire whose goals are to stop the barbarians from taking over and eventually take over and become the sole ruler of Mediterranean. However if you decide to become a barbarian faction your goal is to move into the Roman Empire, settle there and create your own Empire to rule the world. One thing this campaign does very well is the domino effect that the Huns had on these other barbarians. You can no longer turtle up and slowly expand, especially if you’re in the firing line of the Huns. Your choice is either to try and fight the Huns or move into the Roman Empire. And if the Huns don’t get you, the other barbarians fleeing from you will. This provides a unique challenge if you play as the western Romans and keeping the Empire intact would be a great achievement indeed.
However this is not as immersive as the Rome campaign. You can easily end the campaign in a short amount of time. Most barbarian factions can be completed simply by taking as few as 10 provinces including your target provinces. There really isn’t a chance to create a huge Empire. More like a small barbarian Kingdom. Like I said, the Roman campaign is where the real challenge lies.
There are a few features that make the campaign enjoyable, if a little short, such as night battles, emerging factions and hordes. You can now battle at night with your men carrying torches and all. The result is a visual treat with fire arrows and boulders lighting up the ground as they travel. The emerging factions in the campaign are where an event or emergence of a date triggers a fully fledged faction to emerge and try its luck for Imperial dominance. Finally some barbarian factions have the ability to become hordes where the entire population packs up and goes in search of a new homeland. This leaves you with several stacks of warriors to take your new homeland from the owners.
In short, the new features are a great addition to the game but are not that well implemented in the campaign and so makes the campaign not as fun as the first and a bit boring. Online most people play Rome so there aren’t many games to be found. It has the same great battles, sound and gameplay but could have a much better campaign.