The Nile Council: Rome II Introduces Cleopatra

By Adam Smith on June 6th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Cleopatra does what ‘any mother would do’ in the latest trailer for Total Rome: Two War – builds the impossible, sleeps with the enemy, brings ruin on her people, suckles a wolf (metaphorically), feeds the beast (metaphor again), and kills her sister (not a metaphor). There’s no mention of a dalliance with an asp but presumably that particular part of the tale is still to be told. I’d feel rotten if my mum reckoned she’d brought about the end of a dynasty, the fall of a people and the murder of a family member on my behalf, but maybe it’s a bit like the time she dropped a birthday cake and reckoned it was my fault because I was being ‘giddy and distracting’. Unlikely. I was a solemn and dignified six-year old, and preferred Camus to cake.

94% of the planet’s natural resources have now been used to create trailers for the game so let’s hope it’s good, eh? I’ll be very surprised if it isn’t but I would like to see all of the variety shown in the trailers, geographical and factional, having a significant effect on play. I love the first Rome but I want more than a prettier version.

Two of my strongest memories of the original relate to the little things that I’d like to see expanded. After a major battle, the map was marked with an icon and a small description of what had ocurred, the event etched into the world. And then there was the general who always plunged directly into battle, on the frontline, and eventually became known as ‘scarface’. Characters and histories that emerge are far more memorable than trees made out of seventy billion polygons.

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100 Comments »

  1. BTAxis says:

    More like a dude dressed up as Cleopatra.

    • kwyjibo says:

      That jaw is squarer than on the Wolfenstein guy.

    • iniudan says:

      The whole visage is odd, considering there is contemporary bust of her available and she nowhere near this chiseled and her nose is more imposing.

      • Tellus says:

        I agree; but making her aesthetically pleasing is easier and cheaper than making her charming and witty, I guess. It’s a compromise.

      • Dunbine says:

        That is what happens when brothers and sisters marry each other…. and their children marry each other, and their children, etcetc, for multiple generations.

        Since the Ptolemaic family tree was almost a straight line, maybe we’re lucky she doesn’t have a finger growing out of her forehead.

        • iniudan says:

          No by odd I mean it doesn’t look like she should, there is two contemporary bust of her available, so we actually know what her face looked like.

    • Solanaceae says:

      haha exactly my thoughts ;)

    • Dan Griliopoulos says:

      Worth noting that, in the classical world, making it to adulthood without scars, pockmarks or missing bits / teeth was considered beautiful.

      Not that she was a famous beauty anyway. (from Wikipedia) Plutarch says that “her beauty, as we are told, was in itself neither altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her.” Rather, what ultimately made Cleopatra attractive were her wit, charm and “sweetness in the tones of her voice.”

      That bust is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kleopatra-VII.-Altes-Museum-Berlin1.jpg

    • Lolsmurf says:

      her/his accent is so bloody awfull, why not just let her/him talk arrabic or whatever language they spoke in those times ?

      The broken english for russians is the worst, but his/her english can count as awfully bad as well. (and I mean the accent, I know they didnt speek americanism in the old egypt)

      • iniudan says:

        Considering it is Ptolemaic Egypt, the elite should speak Greek.

      • Leb says:

        there were no arabs any where near Egypt at the time.

        sidenote: biggest pissoff is ramses speaking Arabic in Civ V. Might as well have the iroqouis leader speaking English with that mind set…

        • Lolsmurf says:

          at least, better than ramses speaking english with an arrabic accent. that’s even more horrific.
          I really don’t understand why dev’s put so few efford in ‘correcting’ these things.

          Imo it’s more important than a bit more glanse on the graphics in cutscenes.

        • iniudan says:

          Actually the Arab are pretty close to Egypt even at the time, since their homeland is just on the other side of the Red Sea. =p

          • Flowersniffin says:

            Wrong, during Cleopatra’s time (69-30BC) the Arab language did not exist, and will not exist until its development that begins in the second century CE. Contrary to Islamist popular belief the Arabic script and language do not predate the Greek language. Cleopatra being of the Ptolomy dynasty, a Greek/Macedonian dynasty would speek a form of Greek and nothing anywhere near any sort of Arabic sounding dialect that did not exist during this time. Popular muslim scholars would have you believe otherwise, but archaeology (names and inscriptions) that can pinpoint the transition and development of the arabic language are found beginning in the 2nd CE, and even this is a broken and proto arabic script.

          • Lanfranc says:

            So what did the peoples in Arabia speak before “proper” Arabic evolved? Languages don’t just appear out of nothing, and the Romans were talking about an “Arabia” as early as Augustus, so surely there must have been some peoples living there that could in one way or another be identified as “Arabians”?

          • Fred S. says:

            Either a Sumerian or an Aramaic dialect, depending on the tribal history.

    • Bhazor says:

      Isn’t Cleopatra widely considered by historians to be black now?

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/also_in_the_news/7945333.stm

      • Manco says:

        No, Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek with likely some native ancestors as well. Though IIRC she did make overtures towards the non-Greek population in Egypt.
        As for the other dynasties, most of them were native (except for the famous 25th one which was decidedly Kushite), in the sense they were neither sub-Saharan African nor Mediterranean European but belonged to the same continuum other North-Africans and Middle Easterners belonged to (and continuums being continuums also the aforementioned two further on the scale), though having a more direct link to Sub-Saharan Africa than most of those.
        But this continuum wasn’t static so I wouldn’t be surprised the ethnic make-up varied through time, as 3000 years is a very long time indeed.
        The re-appropriation by both black and white nationalists is pointless, as the Egyptian culture is for all intents and purposes extinct. And culture is far more important than skin colour I’d reckon.

      • iniudan says:

        Trouble is that in Florus’ Epitome, 2nd century Roman historian, which writing are extracted from Titus Livius’s own, who was a contemporary of her, she suppose to be fair skinned.

        And even if her mother/sister had African skeleton, it doesn’t mean Cleopatra was black, especially in Mediterranean Africa, in a dynasty, where consanguinity is the norm, it just mean Cleopatra is not pure blooded Hellenist.

      • Soulstrider says:

        You know African doesn’t mean black?

      • WrenBoy says:

        Given that Africa has more genetic diversity than the rest of the world combined, the phrase ‘”African” skeleton’ is bizarrely vague.

        Also, as per the other responses, she clearly was not black.

    • Grygus says:

      She isn’t supposed to have been particularly attractive; if you’re not drawn in by her looks then perhaps they got the feel more-or-less correctly.

  2. Duffin says:

    I really sphinx this game is gonna be the best Total War yet.

  3. Tyrmot says:

    So annoying they did this Day 0 DLC thing – sigh. Will probably end up getting it anyway mind you.

  4. nebnebben says:

    Cleopatra reminds me of a monty python actor dressing up

  5. AlFitz says:

    Mighty of nose and of bosom, I remember her well…

    • Username says:

      You forgot deficient in melanin.

      • solidsquid says:

        Technically she was of Greek descent, but you have a point even then, she does seem rather pale

        • iniudan says:

          Ancient Egyptian and their ruler always made heavy use of cosmetic (which can explain the pale skin), at some point of Egypt history it was even the normal to be wearing a perfumed fat cone on the top of your wig.

          So basically everyone at a party wearing one of those room gel based room deodorant on the top of their head, except that it melt and start slowly dripping from their head.

        • Username says:

          Yes, that snark was aimed at the devs’ decision to make a Mediterranean ruler – living two thousand years prior to the invention of sunscreen – whiter than Taylor Swift.

          • RedViv says:

            Unless of course they are going for the look after preparation for the ceremony of preparation for the ceremony of preparation for burial, at which point the face of the deceased ruler was painted this pale.
            Though I doubt that grimly staring broad-jawed Cleopatra up there is supposed to be dead anyway, no matter how convoluted the burial rites were.

    • AlFitz says:

      You’ve all failed spectacularly missed the point I was alluding to, that I am in fact re-incarnated. I will confess that I was Richard Burton in a former life.

  6. yurusei says:

    I hope that’s the proper campaign map.

    Love how the city is sprawled out on the map, givin’ me a Civ 5 vibe there.

  7. Soulstrider says:

    I was prepared to rage about her looking too Egyptian but after looking better it’s passable.

    Though I find amusing that they went for a Cleoptra was using only the Romans angle when most scholars seem to believe there was true love in at least the relationship with Mark Anthony.

    • Entitled says:

      Though the egyptian army still seems to be as anachronistically Old Kingdom style as in Rome I.

      • Soulstrider says:

        Actually so far according to TWC and they are really demanding about this, the armies have been quite acurate. Apparently the Egyptian Auxiliaries accompanying the greek/macedonian core fought like that.

  8. evilsooty999 says:

    I didn’t know Cleopatra was a transvestite.

  9. Scumbag says:

    Cleopatra, comin at ‘cha

  10. Masterpwny says:

    Has the cost of this game just gone down from £45 to £30? Have a lot of people just paid an extra £15 for the advantage of pre-ordering a game slightly earlier than other people? Bizarre, glad I never pre-order.

    • Lanfranc says:

      Depends on where you buy it. It’s still €55 (≈£45) for me on the TW website and Steam. But Amazon.co.uk has had it for £30 for a while now. Very odd that there’s such a large difference.

  11. KOLUNEZ says:

    First the rampant homophobia, now transphobia. Please nuke the RPS community from orbit.

    • strangeloup says:

      Saying a bit of CGI looks like a bloke in a dress is transphobic now?

      Because our Cleo up there really does look like a bloke in a dress. I don’t see anyone making any kind of value judgement on this fact. It doesn’t seem any more transphobic than remarking that someone has camp mannerisms is homophobic.

      • KOLUNEZ says:

        “I didn’t know Cleopatra was a transvestite.” / “More like a dude dressed up as Cleopatra.”

        -> Fail to look like your intended gender/match up to gender roles = Transvestite

        • darkChozo says:

          Neither of those are inherently pejorative statements though; a man dressed as a women looks like a man dressed like a woman (while a gay man may or may not look like a stereotypically gay man), and “transvestite” doesn’t have any overt negative connotations to the best of my knowledge (ie. it’s along the lines of “gay” or “black”, not any of the more offensive alternatives). It’s worth noting at all because one would not expect Cleopatra to look like a man.

          It’s probably something something about the societal assumptions of what people of a given gender look like, but I don’t see how it’s transphobic.

          • Simplisto says:

            I think they explained the reason it’s transphobic (although I’d also suggest it’s just plain sexist) well enough: A failure to match up to a preconceived idea of what is ‘masculine’ and what is ‘feminine’ should not be used as ammunition for mockery. We’re dealing with a fictional depiction of a historical figure here, but this sort of bullshit feeds into all the various attacks made on women with naturally strong jaw-lines, women who choose to have short hair, women with small breasts and transgender people who ‘do not pass’ have to put up with all the time.

          • darkChozo says:

            The issue is that there are genuine physiological differences between men and women (speaking to the mean here); “masculine” and “feminine” features are largely driven by these differences, though they’re definitely seen through a societal filter. That means that intent, tone, and word choice plays a big part in whether something is offensive or not – “she looks gay” is inherently offensive because it draws on negative stereotypes, while “she looks like a man” or “she’s black” may or may not be depending on the circumstances.

            That being said, I would agree that there’s something of an implication of “she looks like a man, that’s abnormal, that’s bad”. I would say that equating that with attacking masculine women is probably overreaching, though — it’s a bit of a weird issue. So I dunno.

          • Simplisto says:

            Another mature and reasoned response, darkChozo, but I would like to draw attention to one part of your last post:

            ‘I would say that equating that with attacking masculine women is probably overreaching’

            The problem I’ve been trying to highlight that it isn’t attacking masculine women as much as it is attacking *all* women. Nobody thinks twice as to whether a man has a tapered or broad jawline, but for a woman it causes them to be placed on a scale between masculinity and femininity. A broad jaw is not an exclusively masculine trait nor is it one that is rare amongst women; the idea that a tapered jawline is ‘more feminine’ is simply the feminine ideal we are fed. Making generalisations about male and female features wouldn’t be a problem in an ideal world, but sadly it is currently used in such a way that it leads to abuse and body-shaming (mainly of women).

          • darkChozo says:

            I’m going to avoid going into anything specific (let’s not talk about how far this is from anything I’d consider an area of expertise), but her face looks distinctly masculine to me, as in you could give me a cropped version without the dress and tell me it’s a man and I would probably believe you. The heavy eyeshadow, bangs, and the fact that it’s not uncommon for ancient Egyptian male aristocracy to be depicted as feminine by modern standards do not help in this case.

            It’s really, really hard to say if that’s purely because of the magic face recognition software I was born with or if it’s being skewed by decades of exposure to society (spoiler: it’s a bit of both, though I have no idea what the proportions are). The best I can say is that there’s probably some difference between mean male and female facial structure that allows you to non-prejudicial identify a face as more or less masculine or feminine, and that is probably at least loosely correlated to what one would identify as a masculine or feminine face.

            Annnnd I’m just kinda making stuff up at this point. So yeah.

        • Simplisto says:

          THIS!

          I remember the same sort of thing went on when they first showed one of the female characters in that Heavy Rain game.

          ‘Tranny!’
          ‘Haa! Is she a dyke or summit!!?’
          ‘y did they give her short hair and big man jaw? she looks like a bloke! Hurr!’

        • shagohad says:

          lol, I like how you combined two different posters comments into one sentence to make you’re point…. that is a really legitimate way to construct arguments…..

          “Please nuke/ the homo/ s / from orbit”

          there I can do it with what you have posted as well, isnt this a fun game. The original comment at the top of this thread had no undertone to it, it was just an observation that the image looks a bit mannish

          the second post you put up referring to the person as a transvestite (for no reason other than that it is a man-like figure in a dress) is a legitimate complaint

          by just copy pasting them together to prove a point you undermined you’re own argument. good work

          edit: i thought actually on first seeing the image it was some play on the fact that women in power in egypt often were made to look like men (false beards ect. correct me if im wrong) then i realized it was Cleopatra and that didnt make sense

          • Simplisto says:

            ‘The original comment at the top of this thread had no undertone to it, it was just an observation that the image looks a bit mannish’

            Another one missing the point:

            A failure to match your definition of femininity is not equal to ‘mannish’.

            The world is full of women with facial-structures just like this, you just don’t see them in games and at the cinema because they are considered too ‘mannish’ to be accepted by the consumer.

          • shagohad says:

            “facial structures just like this”

            yes. masculine face structures.

            ITS NOT A BAD THING. IT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS. fuck.

          • Simplisto says:

            How can they be called ‘masculine facial structures’ if they are neither exclusive to men’s faces or even representative of a large majority of women?

            I can’t see why you’re having so much trouble with the concept.

          • Bhazor says:

            So would it be racist to say “that man has dark skin”? There’s just as much judgement there as saying that woman has masculine features.

          • Simplisto says:

            ‘So would it be racist to say “that man has dark skin”? There’s just as much judgement there as saying that woman has masculine features.’

            Read my other posts if you haven’t already. If you can’t come up with a more coherent argument against my objections after that then I’m sorry to say that you’re far too much of lost cause to be worth the time and effort.

            “Hahaha! Fuck meee!” http://lh3.ggpht.com/-KD2Lv5eCvqc/TYfwUkRvHII/AAAAAAAAAFE/vrgldvMbXec/s1600/24npvrm.jpg

          • hungrytales says:

            Simplisto: you climbed so high the ladder of absurdity you can play ping-pong with Jovian moons.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Looks like a dude in a dress to me, too.

      I think it’s legitimate to point out where 3D modelers might have slipped off the wrong side of the Uncanny Valley, because I doubt they intended it to look like a Monty Python skit. There is nothing homophobic or trans-whatever-phobic, about pointing out where the might have missed the intended target.

      The look of the marble museum bust would have been more interesting, but apparently they’re going for Elizabeth Taylor here, and not quite nailing it. The face in the advertisement at the end of the video (leaning on Antony) looks like a slightly different model? Maybe an earlier version, or concept art?

      • Simplisto says:

        You’re making a presumption about what their intended target was based on the fact that you believe she is not ‘feminine’ enough.

        • MeatGrowBrain says:

          As Cleopatra was both a real historical individual and a figure who has been subsumed into popular culture, I think it’s entirely understandable to presume about their intended target.

        • Zenicetus says:

          No, it’s because I think they were going for Elizabeth Taylor, and missed.

          Did you follow the link above to the museum bust I mentioned as a more interesting choice? Does that look particularly “feminine” to you?

          • Simplisto says:

            I agree it doesn’t look enough like the bust of Cleopatra. I do not agree with the statement that the character model is ‘not feminine enough’, too ‘mannish’ or as you put it, ‘like a man in a dress’.

            Is that clear enough for you?

          • WrenBoy says:

            Said bust looks quite feminine to me to be honest. Depardieu-esque nose of course.

        • shagohad says:

          man. get over it, the face looks masculine, it doesn’t matter, its just that’s the way it looks. in a cropped thumbnail where you can just see a painted up face with a bit of a masculine face it is.

          This is not a problem, its just strange considering as others have stated that it could be modeled accurately to her face.

          As humans we have a frame of perception where we add up aspects of facial features in our minds and get given an image in return. A 3D model has a much more complicated job of achieving a balanced face and not looking off or wierd. Its not about beauty, the composition just looks strange. I dont really see any negative comments here except the transvestite one which is the only one actually making assumptions apart from you.

          • Simplisto says:

            Sometimes in these situations it feels like I’m arguing with creationists about evolution (although that’s something I haven’t bothered to do since my teens), as the point being made is either overlooked or consciously dodged in order to switch to a different stance before charging in again. The foundations haven’t been set, so there is nothing to build upon.

            Your comment is fair enough, and I agree with most of it, but to state a woman (whether real or not) is ‘too masculine’ or ‘looks like a man in a dress’ because they do not possess *stereotypical* female features such as larger eyes and a more tapered jaw-line is a pain in the arse for majority of women who do not match up to it.

            Here’s the ‘manly’ Heavy Rain character I mentioned: http://cdn-media.hollywood.com/images/l/heavy-rain.jpg

          • shagohad says:

            see that heavy rain face I would describe as proportionally broken. Never played the game, so I dont know about this discussion.

            I absolutely agree that there is a problem of physical representation of women in games, as it is mostly sexualized

            I just took issue KOLUNEZ’s post because rather than bring up a discussion said person constructed a false post (via copy pasta) and then made sensational posts insinuating “rampant” homophobia/transphobia in a post that had been relatively harmless.

            if people want to make these debates, do it sensibly, it hurts all of us when non-seqitor posts try to inflame people

          • Simplisto says:

            Which I think was a fair argument to make, Shagohad. It’s of nobodies benefit to call out somebody on what you perceive as prejudice without explaining why you’ve drawn that conclusion, but I still disagree with your belief that both the comments that Kolunez pointed out weren’t equally misguided or offensive.

          • shagohad says:

            well its probably best to just agree to disagree because the internet is not a good place for argument really hehe, I think the transvestite comment was silly and indicative of what you are arguing, but hey, I think the face shown there just looks like a guy in drag. I live in the gay village of my city and guys in drag are always strutting their stuff. Its not really a problem its just amusing that the image came out that way, I think in real life it is very easy to distinguish a man from a woman no matter what they are wearing, we just do it naturally as humans

            I honestly thing its accentuated by the period dress which come from a time where homosexuality and femininity in men was not problematic, basically the image is just a weird construct and to be honest that may as much be how it is displayed here than anything else

    • greg_ritter says:

      I’m always smitten by this line of thought.
      Do I, as a human being, have a right to not like homosexuals? Mind you, I’m not saying I don’t like them, but if I would, would you and people like you respect my choice?

      • MeatGrowBrain says:

        Sidestepping the thorny issue of whether human beings have fundamental rights; I personally would say you have the right to hold whatever views you like, but you don’t have the right to have your views respected by others.

        • greg_ritter says:

          Agreed.
          Still, people, who are overtly pro-gay are always talking about respecting the choice.
          Again, mind you, I’m not talking about gays, I’m talking about straight guys, who are overtly pro-gay and who are all for the respecting the choice of gays but at the same time are calling for “nuking the RPS community from orbit” for it’s views of gays.

          • MeatGrowBrain says:

            While I agree that calling for orbital nuke strikes is a little stupid, I think that most people who are “overtly pro-gay” would argue that gay people haven’t made a choice that needs to be respected in being gay.

          • greg_ritter says:

            Meh, I kinda think that it’s mainly a choice.

      • Lanfranc says:

        My policy is to always give people one reasonable chance to convince me that I should respect their opinions. Disliking homosexuals just for being homosexuals doesn’t make the cut, I’m afraid.

      • Blackseraph says:

        If you are such a tolerant person, why won’t you tolerate my intolerance?

        I find this sort of reasoning much more weird.

        • greg_ritter says:

          How so? Why should I deny somebody his rights and values, while enjoying them for myself?

          • Blackseraph says:

            While i do think certain amount of intolerance should be tolerated in just society.

            Intolerant people themselves aren’t really best people to complain about intolerance. You don’t think that it is ironic that they do like to complain about that? At all?

          • greg_ritter says:

            But of course I do.
            And still, this is the inherent problem in liberal thinking. It is all for liberal thinking, while becoming quite conservative whilst concerning the conservatives.

        • shagohad says:

          because not agreeing with you is different from the kind of intolerance show to homosexual people all over the world which repressive, violent, and disgusting.

          you have the right to dislike homosexuals, and to protest their rights. However don’t expect people feel the need to apply your intolerance.

          the right to be treated as an equal human being super cedes you’re right to be offended when it come to state oppression.

          • Blackseraph says:

            That was a rhetorical question for greg mostly.

            I am very tolerant and thinks it funny that some people actually like to ask that question.

          • shagohad says:

            yeah, sorry wasnt trying to accuse you, just discussin :)

        • Simplisto says:

          Asking people to accept the differences of others != Asking people to stop being different

        • darkChozo says:

          That’s using a false definition of tolerance; tolerance in the sense of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. is implicitly selective tolerance of things that are inherent to a person. Common knowledge (flaws and all) is that opinions are not inherent to a person, so being “intolerant” towards people with opinions you disdain is perfectly consistent with being a tolerant person.

          edit: darn that context

  12. darkChozo says:

    Neither of those are inherently pejorative statements though; a man dressed as a women looks like a man dressed like a woman (while a gay man may or may not look like a stereotypically gay man), and “transvestite” doesn’t have any overt negative connotations to the best of my knowledge (ie. it’s along the lines of “gay” or “black”, not any of the more offensive alternatives). It’s worth noting at all because one would not expect Cleopatra to look like a man.

    It’s probably something something about the societal assumptions of what people of a given gender look like, but I don’t see how it’s transphobic.

  13. Blackseraph says:

    Yeah, this is bit annoying for me. Did i articulate that badly or something?

  14. Greggh says:

    -Lady Gaga, what are you doing in a videogame??

    -Caught in a bad Rome-ance

  15. borvid says:

    Yep. Nuke it from space.

  16. Feldgrau says:

    This is ridiculous. It’s a nice trailer that shows off the story-focus for civilizations outside of Rome in the game, as well as the campaign map. Only everybody can’t get past Cleopatra’s appearance. Good job.

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