Rome: Total War Review
Rome: Total War is the very definition of an epic strategy game.
Rome: Total War is the third Total War game from England's Creative Assembly, and, to make a long story short, it's the best one yet. It was naturally expected to build on its illustrious predecessors, which featured epic-scale real-time battles and impressive attention to historical realism and detail. Shogun: Total War was a promising start for the series, while Medieval: Total War built on that promise to create an even more engrossing strategy game. With Rome: Total War, Creative Assembly takes the next step, and it's as much a revolutionary step as it is an evolutionary one, thanks to a beautiful new 3D graphics engine that makes the series' tactical battles--featuring thousands of soldiers--better than ever. The results are nothing short of spectacular, helping make Rome: Total War the very definition of an epic strategy game.
As in the earlier Total War games, there are essentially two distinctly different types of gameplay in Rome. There's the overarching turn-based campaign in which you conquer cities and provinces, make improvements, and move armies around the map as you expand your empire, and then there are the real-time battles in which you use tactics and maneuvers to crush your enemy in combat. After the helpful and informative tutorial campaign, you can tackle the main imperial campaign. You play as one of three powerful Roman families--the Julii, the Bruti, or the Scipii--attempting to increase the size and glory of Rome and shore up your faction's power and influence. As all three factions are Roman, there's literally no difference between them in terms of units and building types, though they do have different responsibilities. The Julii must deal with the Gauls and Germania to the north in a difficult, landlocked campaign. The Bruti are required to deal with the remnants of the Greek city-states and expand the empire to the southeast. And the Scipii are tasked with subduing Carthage, Rome's great nemesis to the southwest.
At least, that's the principle goal of each faction. But there's a fourth, unplayable Roman faction, one that can influence your course during the campaign: the Roman senate. The senate will order you on missions, from blockading a hostile port or conquering a city (and perhaps exterminating the populace, depending on the level of enmity between Rome and the faction in question) to forging a trade deal or an alliance with a foreign faction. It's up to you whether you actually obey the order, as sometimes the senate will try to stretch you thin on purpose. If you carry the orders out successfully, you stand to gain a monetary reward, a useful new military unit, or influence in the senate. Failing to carry out missions earns the displeasure of the senate and affects your standing with that body. By and large, though, the senate missions help to focus the otherwise huge scope of the campaign--instead of being faced with the monolithic task of trying to conquer Europe, you can instead look forward to accomplishing a long series of short-term goals.
It's helpful to perform senate missions because they can affect an improved feature in Rome: Total War--families. Each of the three Roman factions is essentially one huge family, and your generals and governors are related to one another by birth, marriage, or adoption. These are the leaders of your faction, and they all have traits--strengths and weaknesses--that define their abilities. A strong general may have an excellent command rating, but his disdain for bureaucracy would make him a poor governor. Meanwhile, an otherwise strong governor may have a dislike of farming, which would affect the agricultural output in the province he's in. But if your family members are selected to hold important senate posts, they'll gain influence and abilities once out of office. This introduces a limited role-playing component in the game, as you actually care about trying to further the careers of your family members so they can serve you better.
In addition to traits, family members--not to mention your spies, assassins, and diplomats--can all attract retinues. These are the hangers-on who surround important people, such as advisors, mentors, bodyguards, lackeys, sycophants, and more. Each of these can affect your characters' abilities. For example, a wrestler can improve a character's influence (by being able to literally twist arms), as well as provide added protection against an assassination attempt. You can actually collect and trade retinue members among your family, so you can transfer them to where they're needed the most.
Families are also critical because only family members can serve as generals. You can assemble armies without a general, but they'll be poorly led and will likely fare badly in battle. But with a general, the army's fortune can change. A general with a high command ability is a powerful force in battle, as a well-led smaller force can defeat a poorly led larger force most of the time. On the other hand, the fact that generals are drawn from the ruling family can be dangerous, because you need to make sure there are future generations of leaders and generals. A disastrous battle can wipe out whole branches of the family tree, cutting down promising young sons before they can sire heirs. This can have a crippling effect later on in the campaign, when you find yourself short of qualified generals and governors with a huge empire to manage. It makes for an excellent incentive to try and preserve your generals, rather than treat them as easily replaceable fodder.
- Player Reviews: 572
- Game Universe:
- Empire: Total War Gold Edition (PC, MAC),
- Rome: Total War Gold Edition (PC, MAC),
- Empire: Total War (PC),
- Medieval II Total War: Gold Edition (PC),
- Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms (PC),
- Medieval II: Total War (PC),
- Total War: Eras (PC),
- Medieval Total War Gold (PC),
- Rome: Total War Barbarian Invasion (PC),
- Rome: Total War (PC)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Team Oriented
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
8 Players Online