The RPS Verdict: Total War: Rome II

By RPS on September 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 pm.


Jim and Adam sat down over a pint of internet to discuss the recently released imperial epic, Rome II. They had things on their mind.

Jim: So then. I am usually in the Total War apologist camp, but not this time. I am not sure if it’s because I had a better experience with Shogun 2, or whether there’s some kind of allergy due to over-exposure going on, but Rome II rubbed me up the wrong druid.

Adam: A terrible place to be rubbed. Is there any one single complaint that sums up the experience? For me, the scope of the game was enticing but eventually – and in fact almost immediately – problematic.
Jim:Disappointment, is perhaps the overwhelming feeling. I wanted this to be a step forward, but actually I didn’t find it to do anything I wasn’t expecting, except perhaps a bug where a boat was spinning around and clipping through the beach. Perhaps it was an element of my playing Iceni first, rather than Rome, but I felt myself just hitting the End Turn over and over, without really doing that much, because I couldn’t take on my neighbours or do anything much, really. Leveling up my agents seemed like the only activity for a long stretch. Ultimately, I gave up and started Carthage, and that didn’t seem to be all that much more interesting – especially in variety of battlefield toys – even though the brighter atmosphere of the Mediterranean made it 36% more palatable. It really is gloomy in Northern Europe!
Adam: I’ve played seven or eight campaigns – not all to completion obviously – and the opening drags every time.
Jim: I was wondering whether for formula was beginning to break down – whether actually what Total War needs is a fresh start. Things like the length of the AI turn just appalled me this time.
Adam: I think there is a formulaic problem, at least to some extent. In that Shogun II was a step forward in terms of quality but a retreat in so many other ways. There are limits and moving beyond them, as with Empire and now Rome II, causes a sort of collapse.
Jim: Shogun II’s limited field seemed to work, but also it seemed to work better in terms of which faction you play. In Rome II choosing an outlier, like Iceni or Carthage, seems to lead only to a long boring grind, with limited access to interesting units.
Adam: I think it’s a design problem. The wider world isn’t interesting enough – it doesn’t feel like things happen there so much as that it exists to be enveloped. There is land and that land has inhabitants, but it’s there to be conquered rather than experienced. Too much of it ends up simply being space to be filled.
Jim: Do you think the Paradox games avoid that stuff?
Adam: Not all of them – it’s perhaps notable that their take on Japan, Sengoku, suffered from its compactness. Bizarro Total War. EU IV certainly does avoid that problem – but, again, it goes back to the formula. There are definite and more obvious lulls in activity during an EU IV campaign but the player still has options. The world is interesting to observe, a proper simulation, so it’s possible to spend time watching and waiting.
Jim: I suppose what irritated me most about Rome II was that it felt less slick than Shogun. When a company is making the same core game year after year, I want their production to be spotless. I didn’t feel like that with Rome II. It felt unfinished.
Adam: And also, the Paradox games aren’t turn-based. There’s no need to punch the clock. Speed up during quiet decades, slow down when need be. I find it stunningly attractive in places and I’m possibly more tolerant of some of the interface deficiencies. It is messy though. Shogun, looking back, feels like a sort of peak that I didn’t recognise at the time. It’s sad that Rome II has made me more interested in going back to play Shogun II because it’s not a period that I have any real interest in.
Jim: I’m not sure Shogun was a better game in design or technical terms, but in production and feel, it was tighter, which I definitely appreciated.
Adam: So was the original Rome, unless memory is betraying me.

Jim: Oh, I love the era for Rome II, but I found myself frustrated here. The pace of it, that weird thing with agents blocking armies, random unreadable morale collapses in a couple of battles, full on bugs. It really irritated me at times. I want to love it, because I want a Druid Empire that spans the world, but I feel myself being kept at arm’s length by it.
Adam: (The Old Gods allows for vast pagan empires!) At the core of the Total War situation is this – Empire and Rome II are the most ambitious and, I’d argue, interesting Total War games. But they’re also the most obviously flawed. Total War works best when it’s performed within a sort of civil war scenario – contained, controlled and directed.
Jim: Agreed. I suspect this is what has kept Total War from ever doing something radical, like WW1 or Space War, something like that: they know if they stray too far that it breaks down.
Adam: Stretch beyond that for too long and the design doesn’t have the chops to keep the player’s interest. If you’re not at war, you’re doing it wrong, and yet there are all of these extra options and features that end up feeling like distractions.
Jim: What’s interesting, though, is that it doesn’t seem to matter when Total War makes a misstep. It sells a tonne, hundreds of thousands play it, and they move on to the next game. Too big to fail?
Adam: Possibly so. I think this is a bigger misstep than Empire though, if only because people have wanted to go back to Rome for so long. I don’t think I was alone in thinking that this would be the one true Total War game.
Adam: The best of what they’d done before with something new.
Jim: Yes, I absolutely felt that this was the moment for triumph, especially after the Teutobourg demos, instead, well, it feels like a faltering moment, crushed under its own enormity.
Adam: What do you make of the historical/larger battles? As standalone things?
Jim: Enjoyable! I always like that aspect. I think, actually, the battlefield part felt more loved this time. I really wanted to get entangled romantically with the campaign map, but it didn’t happen. I was far more involved in the tooth and nail brawls in the rain that the battles provide. Had a couple of splendid battles where I repelled invaders trying to take towns. That seemed to work unusually well. As for the historical battles, there’s a certain element of “here is a challenge other generals have faced” to it, which I love. There’s something about that fact of history – no matter how poor the actual representation of that might compared to the reality – that grips the imagination.
Adam: The battles are also the part of the game that shows off the world’s girth more effectively. The landscapes give a great sense of place and the extra variety in unit types actually makes discovering new places and new people rewarding, even if they are unleashing the actual dogs of war onto my face.
Jim: Yes, that’s true, although it did have some truly dull maps generate for me in Northern England, perhaps that’s accurate?
Adam: Absolutely. I think I even saw a Greggs pasty next to some drizzle and a sodden bus stop at one point.
Jim: I think the thing about Total War games is that they always hit the imagination pretty hard – that context and scale, and the ability to put generals through hell and survive. There’s something deeply compelling which explains the ongoing success of the series.
Adam: I love the generals’ pre-battle speeches. I turn the volume right up and clench my fists. Stirring moments in the Smith household.
Jim: The TW games don’t have that tight ruleset of other strategies, but are instead giant messy colouring pads for expansionist fantasies.
Adam: Yes. And even though they’re entirely different as experiences, that’s precisely what they have in common with Paradox fare. Both are ridiculous time machines. Windows on to other worlds. The historical truth of them doesn’t matter so much as their ability to make you believe. And too much of Rome II’s particular messiness is detrimental to its own credibility. It breaks the illusion and so much of what they’re offering is illusion.

Jim: Do you think they’ll ever attempt something different? We’ll see Warhammer Total War, of course. But I wonder if they will ever tread the path that so many want from them: The 20th Century.
Adam: When I spoke to them they said the one thing they didn’t wnat to do was anything with a three in it. I can see an American Civil: Total War working. I’m sure that used to be the only wargame setting around. Back in the day.
Jim: You’re probably right. Are you recommending people play Rome II? Right now I feel like I can’t recommend it, exactly, but can more warn people what they are getting themselves into.
Adam: I think the flames of excitement need to be quenched. I’ve seen lots of comments about modding already – it’ll be worth buying because mods will make it great etc. That’s a dangerous road. Perhaps wait until the mods exist. If that is what you crave.
Jim: That always seems like a dangerous thing to say. It’s probably true in the case of Skyrim and so on, but it’s unproven until it actually happens. Which means you should wait and then study the results of the modding experimentalists and explorers. I do feel, actually, that CA need to make an extra special effort to create a Total War game which is radically open to modding. Then they’ll end up with the strategy equivalent of DayZ. Can you imagine? I baffles me that companies don’t look at that phenomenon and think: “that has to be worth a roll of the dice”. Someone out there would make the space colony Total War conversion that would blow everyone’s minds. That WW1 conversion recently was quite the thing, wasn’t it. Didn’t lift off in popularity, no, but what if you make your RTS so moddable that it spawns the next spin off genre, like DOTA. WHAT THEN.
Adam: It’s astonishing. I wonder where and when those conversations take place. Because there surely must be conversations. Could it simply be the difficulty of making tools in some cases?
Jim: Well yes, it’s a combined fear of opening the game up to exploitation, and the feeling that releasing the tools means polishing them for end users. I am not sure that’s always the case, but Arma 2′s great power was the scenario editor and scripting, which allowed all kinds of antics I can’t think of a strategy game that provides that sort of access, and I am not certain there is one.
Adam: Somebody will tell us in the comments.And I gather you are proposing something more along the lines of a strategy game built to be moddable from the very beginning? I can’t think of it.

Jim: Ah yes. Access to the great unblinking eye of Sauron that is the internet. Anyway, we should sum up. Rome II, then, is like a huge tome of fine history that is engrossing, but poorly edited. Some of the pages are discoloured through age, but the sheer fact of it remains. Like a monument in the desert. Or perhaps an old friend, who talks a good talk, but has become portly and eccentrically attired. You have heard his stories many times, and the embellishments over time make their more lurid, even if the basic story remains the same. God, I love metaphors. Being a writer is awesome.
Adam: I feel that Total War should be a coiled armadillo rather than Rome IIs jellyfish. The strategy map would be better served as an ancillary to combat rather than an attempt to Civilize the series. Supply routes, ambushes – short-term solutions to problems of war. A series of spectacular snapshots of moments rather than a historical epic.
Jim: You may be right. It is not so.

Rome II is out now.

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199 Comments »

  1. Jade Raven says:

    StarCraft 2 is very modable. So I hear.

    • Moraven says:

      Of course, since you mentioned DOTA and SC2 above, Starcraft 1&2 and Warcraft 3 are heavily moddable.

      Civ 5 is rather moddable. Such things like people making a Warcraft total conversion set in Civ5. And there is the Game of Thrones scenarios.

      http://kotaku.com/this-ambitious-mod-aims-to-fully-convert-civilization-v-1239252532

      Total War has had some great mods, but of course the game was not designed from the very beginning to be moddable.

      Galatic Civ is moddable. Anyone know if Stardock had support at the start of release? Or any other Stardock releases for that matter?

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Civ 5 is NOT very moddable. There are not a lot of truly great mods for it and far too much stuff is stuck where it is and there is little dev support.

        Civ 4 was one of the most moddable games ever. Some of the mods like Rhye’s and FFH are some of the greatest strategy games in their own right. Compare that to Civ 5 makes it look pretty ridiculous to talk up how moddable Civ 5 is.

        In fact it’s great that you linked Civilizations of Warcraft for Civ 5. Compare that to FFH for Civ 4 and you’ll understand how limited and weak modding is for Civ 5.

        • Triplanetary says:

          Yeah, after how ridiculously moddable Civ4 was, I was really disappointed to see how much they limited that in Civ5.

        • Bastimoo says:

          I feel like Paradoxtitles should be mentioned here.
          Modding a worldwar two game into worldwar one, cold war, or modern war seems fine to me.
          Also Crusader Kings 2 has the best Game of Thrones mod (or game) I have yet seen.
          Also: Medieval 2. Aged, but they’re still making mods, and both the Warhammer and Lord of the Rings mods are great.

    • Lemming says:

      Civ 4 has some of the best and most compelling mods I’ve seen. Playing it straight and then changing to the Final Frontier mod for a game, and then Fall From Heaven 2…I mean god knows how many hours that’s taken off my life.

    • rockman29 says:

      “Adam: It’s astonishing. I wonder where and when those conversations take place. Because there surely must be conversations. Could it simply be the difficulty of making tools in some cases?
      Jim: Well yes, it’s a combined fear of opening the game up to exploitation, and the feeling that releasing the tools means polishing them for end users. I am not sure that’s always the case, but Arma 2′s great power was the scenario editor and scripting, which allowed all kinds of antics I can’t think of a strategy game that provides that sort of access, and I am not certain there is one.
      Adam: Somebody will tell us in the comments.And I gather you are proposing something more along the lines of a strategy game built to be moddable from the very beginning? I can’t think of it.”

      You guys just mentioned Dota in the article, and didn’t think of WarCraft 3, the loins from whence the MOBA came…

      Moddable from day one in WorldEdit. WarCraft 3 is so unbelievably easy to mod, and so lax with direction or control from Blizzard. It is glorious.

      • HothMonster says:

        “what if you make your RTS so moddable that it spawns the next spin off genre, like DOTA.”

        He did mention it just not by name. DOTA wasn’t the modifiable product it was the huge mod that came from one and probably sold a fair number of copies of WC3 on it’s own.

        • bstard says:

          I bought WC3 just for a few TD mods, never touched the campaign. Good modding support definitely sells extra.

        • rockman29 says:

          I didn’t say DOTA was the mod…. the loins of War3 is the moddable part I meant :)

          Also yea, Dota sold a lot of WC3 copies I bet… I know many people who only bought Roc+ TFT just for Dota.

      • drewski says:

        I think maybe they mean in a contemporaneous setting. Obviously SC2 is moddable out the wazoo, but it doesn’t have the overarching scope of a Total War game.

        I think the biggest reason CA won’t support mods more is they’re scared someone will mod their old games to be better than their new ones. Nobody is going to buy Warhammer Total War if there’s a Rome II mod set in a Warhammer-alike world that is brilliant.

        • rockman29 says:

          Fair nuf about the modding.

          I wonder about that too… but I wish CA had more confidence in their own products.

          I wonder if it is an issue of money though? Does CA have enough money to make a new game engine or really change the Total War series? Not that it needs “change” per se, but just the generation crossing update or whatever?

          Is SEGA willing to front that or is CA just meant to churn out a title every 2 years or so?

          The base game looks so much the same to me as before…. I feel like CA also uses bullshots a lot to sell their games… >.>

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      I would guess that someone in a boardroom somewhere looked at making the TW games more moddable and went, “You mean they can just make the civil war, the gulf war, the war of the roses, whatever they want, with our tools, and release it for free? But we release a new game just like that every year or two; why would anyone buy the next game when it costs them money and breaks support for all the old mods they already have?”

      Modding doesn’t work when the company that makes the game has predicated its success on being able to continue selling the game to the customer. It’s why most f2p/annual release games tend to have little to no modding support.

  2. pistolhamster says:

    I kind of gave up on Total War after Medieval 2. It is as if they never get the balance right.

    • rockman29 says:

      Has the game really even changed at all since Rome I? I can’t even tell a difference gameplay wise.

      Other than “more graphics and bigger area with more buildings” I don’t really get where this series is going. The fights all look as robotic as they did 10 years ago, but they keep saying it’s so much more realistic or whatever.

      I dunno, not so excited for this. Rome 1 was my favourite Total War.

      • gladius2metal says:

        same for me, just take cavalry to their flanks and/or bombard them with artillery.

        • Strabo says:

          Sounds realistic though. Most battles were won by one of those two tactics in reality too.

          • Werthead says:

            True, but in real life the enemy generally didn’t just stand there and take it. They’d, at the very least, move around a bit.

            To be fair, in both SHOGUN 2 and ROME 2 the AI does seem to react a bit more realistically when faced with overwhelming numbers of enemy missile troops: they rush into melee rather than let you stand there and massacre them like in the original ROME before patches (and as in MEDIEVAL II even after patches).

          • drewski says:

            Even in Rome they’d *try* to get into melee range, but they were never quite smart enough to figure out how to break a mixed formation up. I always found it amusing when they’d come into archer range, then immediately back out again when they realised the hail of death they’d have to accept to get at my infantry.

            Then I’d send a squad of cavalry out to taunt them, and out would come the spearmen, and off my cav would run into my archer range, then back off their spearmen would go. Ahh, dumb AI.

            They also could flank with their cavalary if you didn’t have heavy cav or spear flank support, the AI wasn’t a complete idiot. At least, not all the time. But the AI never really had a good idea of how to defeat a well organised mixed force.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      Medieval 2 was the last game that felt like a step forward. The bugs and terrible Battle AI seemed to peak in Empire and to hide them they striped some complexity and ideas in Napoleon and Shogun 2.

      I gave Creative chance after chance but Shogun 2 will be the last game I buy from them. Roll on Planetary Annihalation, Homeworld: Shipbreakers and the future of RTS’s.

      • Shadow says:

        But you can’t really compare those two to a Total War game, which is pretty much its own breed of strategy game. Just like Paradox stuff has its own style, also independent from conventional, single-layer chain RTSs like WarCraft III, Age of Empires and even Company of Heroes.

    • Poppis says:

      Pretty much same here. Although the only reason I even bought Medieval 2 was because of Europa Barbarorum 2(which I am still waiting for<3). And without playing Rome 2, I can safely say that you will have a heck of a lot more interesting time playing non-Romans in EB2 than in Rome2.

    • ShEsHy says:

      Same here, but probably not for the same reasons, since I always autoresolve. My beef with the TW series after M2 was the campaign map part of the game and how bad they made it.
      I loved building every building possible in Rome and M1, and understood the civil/military seperations in M2, especially since they shared most of the neutral buildings, but the shit they pulled in Empire (and every TW game since) where your cities have building “slots” is just downright disgusting. It’s nothing more than forced limitations.
      I had hoped Rome II didn’t follow this style, but one look at a campaign screenshot proved I was wrong.

      • mouton says:

        Lol, you always autoresolve battles in TW games? I mean, you are free to enjoy it however you want, but that’s cutting the main appeal of the series. The strategic layer was always primarily a frame for big pwetty battles.

        If you crave strategy layer sans battles, may I recommend Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis 4.

    • mouton says:

      Same here, gave up after Medieval 2. Whenever a new TW game comes out, I always come to forums/comments and ask: “So, did they improve AI?”. And I always hear “Nope.”

  3. VileThings says:

    Great read *thumbs up*

    I too find it baffling that not more developers design their games with inherent modding capabilities. The basic recipe for success seems to be: make a good/unique game, gather a fanbase, make it moddable -> watch your game being bought and talked about for years to come. Too bad most publishers seem intend on making mediocre games that most respectable modders wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

    • Disillusion3D says:

      Well… there is that issue with DLC.
      It’s hard to flog all those extra factions and minimal additions if a modder can do it for free and sometimes better.

      Still, it should be possible to offload all those pieces of DLC and open the game up later if they want to milk it for all it’s worth before they give the modders the freedom to do anything they want.

      On related note; I really hope the modders can turn this into something that I can enjoy.

      • derbefrier says:

        are you so sure it has to do with DLC or not wanting to pay employees to work on a mod a development kit or whatever you have to do to make a game modabble, I sure the hell don’t know what it is, but I am sure it costs money and I would imagines that’s more of a problem then potentially lost DLC sales. Skyrim which is very moddable had its DLC in the top sellers lists despite being able to get free content over it so I don’t think that’s really the case, or at least not all of it. Its probably just hard to really measure a retuen from it, I mean you cant count on some one to make the next Day Z with your game so most bean counters probably just see it as a waste of resources. Not that it makes it any better….hmmm would you pay 10 bucks more for a game if they all started coming with mod tools?

        • Leonick says:

          I don’t think making and releasing the tools to allow people to make mods is a big concern. In just about every case where there is an official tool release such as the creation kits for Bethesda’s games that is pretty much the same utility that is used internally for the studio to make content.

          I’m not sure if DLC is the answer either though, it probably is in a lot of cases but then you have games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown that have no official tool or modding support whatsoever, it even has various blocks in place (such as checking that the exe file size is what it should be for example) but there isn’t exactly a lot of DLC content for the game either.

  4. Disillusion3D says:

    Beaten to it by Jade Raven ;-(

    About the article itself:
    This RPS Verdict strikes me as to be totally different in tone from the Wot published previously.
    The Wot almost got me to buy the damn thing but luckily I read some other reviews and abstained.

    Why the change of tone? What gives, gentlemen?

    • Jade Raven says:

      Smith is different from the others. Twisted away from the hivemind of reasonably similar thoughts (even Grayson seems a part of it) by his obscure interests.

      I feel sad that strategy now seems to be an obscure interest.

    • Stochastic says:

      I wouldn’t say that. From Adam’s WIT: “Sadly, Rome II has taken on board some of Empire’s vices and, while it is in many ways an exceptionally well-crafted game, it is a misstep of sorts. Engage the Irony Alarm – Rome II is a game that reaches too far and wide, creaking under its own weight.”

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I read Adam’s WIT as pretty downbeat. He talks repeatedly about its flaws.

      Also, of the regular RPS crew, only John doesn’t regularly play strategy games. So Adam is hardly alone in his tastes.

    • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

      Fact that both of them are so heartbroken doesnt make it a nicer piece to read if you like the TW games for what they are. There’s still much to love here, its the imo little unreasonable anticipation/expectations that set them up for inevitable disappointment. Ofc, all of those points are 100% spot on, just maybe mention some of the great stuff for some balance.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I have the Rome II discs lying in front of me, currently wondering if my pre-order to being burned by it ratio will remain 1.

        The last game i pre-ordered was BF3, and swore i’d never again.

        If what you’re saying is true, and i think Adam’s WIT suggested it, it’ll probably not be that bad…especially for a first timer (i’ve only played Shogan’s demo long ago).

        • Reefpirate says:

          If this is your first Total War game you’re probably in good shape. So many people who talk about the Total War games are talking in the context of a long series where everyone has their favourites and least favourites and their impression of the newest iteration will undoubtedly be coloured by playing some of the previous games. (Hence the several references in this article to Empire, Rome I, and Shogun 2, etc.)

        • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

          You’re in for a treat really. Just remember to actuall ystart with ROME… It’s not called “Total War: Dreary German City States” for a reason

    • Razerkey says:

      The total war series has never been about the campaign map. People are mixing this game up with EUIV the game is great, go buy it.

      • Max Planck says:

        TW is also about the campaign map, that’s why it is there. People are not mixing anything up.

      • drewski says:

        It’s not “about” the campaign map and it’s not “about” the tactical battles – it’s about both working in concert.

      • fish99 says:

        If you just had the battles, you wouldn’t have much of a game. To me the core game is the campaign and therefore the campaign map. The battles are the icing on the cake, but everyone ends up auto-resolving later into a campaign, because they become repetitive and you generally only engage when you’re going to win, so they also become easy.

      • Leb says:

        I auto resolve nearly everything over 70 percent “chance”
        and now with the “choose your stance” auto resolve I even get to feel a little involved.

        But yeah… battles with crappy AI.. meh
        Even more Meh when you outnumber them 2 to 1

        Battles in TW were for those key moments where u are outnumbered and in your city and its a key strategic point and you manage to hold it off.

        You feel like a boss after… but then after a while you realize that your not really that good.. the AI is just easy to exploit.

        The siege battles I’ve won in shogun just by firing cannons at them for 20 minutes on 3x fast forward….

      • mouton says:

        While I am of opinion that battles are the main element of TW, the game is, in fact, about both layers working in concert. Problem is, strategy layer tends to receive much less love than the tactical one.

        Then again some issues – like poor AI – concern both the tactical and the strategic.

  5. Feste says:

    I have to say that after a disppointing day with the game, you’re pretty much echoing my thoughts on this. The previews and commentary seemed to suggest that Creative had started adding a level of complexity to their games. However I start up a Rome 2 map now, and they’ve reduced Europe to a series of nodes. Where’s the strategic complexity on a map that limited? And the extra mechanics are just thrown together with no elegance in the design.

    I think the mention of the Paradox games is also telling. At the moment with EU4 and Crusader Kings 2, it seems Paradox are at the height of their game. Thanks to the Humble Bundle I just started playing, and understanding, CK2 last week. In comparison to that game Rome 2 seems to be a badly made childs toy.

    Rome 2 might grow on me, but more likely I can see myself picking up Paradox’s games and running with them. The scope for telling an interesting story on those is so much greater.

    • Laurentius says:

      EU4 is not a peak of Paradox though, CK2 defnietly is. EU4 seems like a misstep, same as EU3, lots of good ideas and designs and lots of bad ones that leaving series astray.

      • Feste says:

        I’ve not played EU3, so I can’t comment much, but the majority of things I’ve heard regarding EU4 have been positive. Playing the demo has been enjoyable, Certainly between CK2 and EU4, the gui has been improved and seems very well designed. And playing as both Portugal and Venice shows up some nice systems, I do love the trade nodes.

        If I’m not mistaken you suggest that EU3 was also a mistep? Are both EU games broken in the same way? And if so how?

        To be honest, I’m a bit more forgiving of mistakes when someone’s attempting to push a design forward, or at least fix a complex problem. Creative have been making very similar games for a long time now, and they still feel terribly uncertain in what their doing; it’ll be interesting to see if they’ve got any design mistakes in Rome such as the Great Shogun Food Unbalancing.

        • MaXimillion says:

          EU4 is a big improvement over EU3. Whether it’s more engaging than CK2 comes mostly down to personal preference, I think. It’s certainly not a perfect game, and has some issues that need to be patched, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re into grand strategy.

          • Baines says:

            EU and CK2 are different types of games. They aren’t trying to be the same thing. EU doesn’t have the “personal level” that CK2 has, while CK2 doesn’t have the same scale as EU. EU is more war game while CK2 has more role-playing tones.

            Paradox’s big misstep was Sengoku, the game that was awkwardly between Paradox’s other styles. It was CK2-lite, but missing most of the role-playing. It was light on the wargame aspect as well. It was a very simplistic world with no variety on any level. Paradox might could have fixed it with an expansion or two, but Paradox instead abandoned it, due to their Europe-themed games being more profitable ventures. (Some modders tried to fix Sengoku, but apparently some of the problem areas are hard-coded. Last I saw, there was only a single one-man effort still trying to mod Sengoku into a better game.)

          • nindustrial says:

            @Baines

            Agree with all you’ve said. Also, wile I haven’t played it, I’ve heard Sengoku described as a sort of tech demo for CK2 with the new engine.

          • nimrod123 says:

            sengko was a tech demo, to prove that CK2 would work.

            they thought people might like it so they sold it

          • Lacessit says:

            I liked it :( It seems I must’ve been the only one. The plotting mechanic especially was amusing. You’d have a HUUUUUGE block for an opponent, then you’d have a quiet word with the various parts that made it up and BOOM!

            Not so funny when it happened to me eventually, I admit :p

      • greywolf00 says:

        I would wholeheartedly disagree with that. EU and CK are different games and each have their own charms.

        While I greatly enjoyed the RPGish elements in CK 2, the “all wars stop on leader death” mechanic is utterly moronic (IMHO), and completely killed my interest in the game. I much prefer the ever expanding CB system in EU. I’ll take the EU series over CK 2 everyday of the week. Heck, I found the Vicky series far more entertaining than CK.

    • varangian says:

      >they’ve reduced Europe to a series of nodes

      When I read that they’d done that in the WIT I was so disappointed. Not clear whether that means there’s a fixed number of battlefields to play on or whether they generate similar-but-different battle areas on the fly but either way it’s a step backwards. The strategic-to-tactical conversion in Rome and MW2 did generate some weird scenarios at times – one army at the top of a mountain whilst the other was in a valley far below, or you’d find yourself with a deployment area consisting solely of forest. But if could also land you in some fun situations where you had to make the best of a poor deployment area then quickly scramble to a better position. Tweaking that to avoid the sillier scenarios and adding in some logistical and attrition elements, so that doing a Hannibal over the Alps would cost you time and troops, would have been a good way to go, they seem to have just added constraints to make life easier for themselves.

      • Feste says:

        I haven’t played enough to say how varied the battle maps are, but I was referring to the strategy map regarding the nodes. The map feels like arena/city clearings linked by lanes and the sea, to be honest it makes me wonder if it’s an attempt to cut down the amount of work the AI has to go through to make plans.

        That said, I just fought a successful river crossing defence against a force twice my size. There are still options open to you, it just seems far more obvious and planned for.

    • Razerkey says:

      Total war is about the battles not the campaign map.

      • Max Planck says:

        You forgot “to me”.

      • bstard says:

        Maybe when you repeat this a few more times it becomes true. True! Truueeeeeee.

        Anyway the game sucks, the battles are boring since the AI is too lame to take initiative, and there’s nothing new to TW anymore. Take your lose, accept you stumbled into this 55euro’s graphics honey trap again, and move on.

  6. Bull0 says:

    Warhammer Battle March is sort of Warhammer Total War, and it’s… OK.

    • Max Planck says:

      I think it’ was a good deal worse than ok. I found it shallow and buggy, I hated the duel mechanic, and the publisher dropped it faster than you could say ‘shouldnthavebeendone’ and closed the forums without a word of communication.

      • Ringwraith says:

        The load times were horrible.
        Oh man, the load times.

      • Bull0 says:

        Bear in mind I didn’t touch it until I picked up a copy very cheaply from ebay a couple of months ago, and in that context I’m pretty at peace with it. If I’d paid full price for it at launch and treated it like serious business I’d probably be more disappointed, but that was years ago.

  7. Jimbo says:

    It’s unplayable for me, so I can’t recommend it either.

    Total War just seems like it’s destined to be a franchise where the expansion is always the one to play. The base game is usually a sprawling, bug-ridden mess, then for the expansion they tighten the focus and fix the stuff which they obviously knew was broken in the first place. I still usually enjoy the base games, but it’s Kingdoms, Napoleon, Fall of the Samurai etc. which stand out as the high points.

    I’d also highly recommend people check out Hegemony – especially the developers of Total War. It isn’t necessarily better than Total War per se, but it does bring some fresh ideas to the table and makes a strong case for placing the real time battles directly on the strategic map, while just generally streamlining the whole experience. It’s a dead simple game and there isn’t an ounce of fat on it, yet it made me feel far more like I was planning and executing a military campaign than Total War has ever done.

    • sPOONz says:

      Good shout Jimbo! Hegemony looks fantastic. Im a huge strategy game fan yet never noticed this game. Looks great. Thanks for the heads up

      • Eightball says:

        Seconding Jimbo’s recommendation. I played the demo of it when it was in beta, and the demo ends a little ways after you start getting into the game and the story. I bought the full game immediately. The voice acting is a bit amateur, but other than that it is a superb strategy game. Also the studio that makes it (Longbow) is tiny and they are super helpful if you encounter a bug and post about it on their forum.

    • Anguy says:

      Link to the game on Steam for those that are interested: http://store.steampowered.com/app/202690

      :)

    • miyadaman says:

      Would you be talking about Hegemony Gold? Or the soon to come Hegemony Rome? I’ve played quite a bit of Hegemony Gold, which is basically the same engine and everything Rome will run on. To say it’s an RTS is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like a Civ-style battle system with very minor RTS bits thrown in.

      That’s not to say it’s bad. It has its moments of fun. The problem with the game is that it becomes EXTREMELY repetitive and can be overwhelmingly tedious at times. The game never evolves beyond what you do in the first hour. The 30th hour is exactly the same as the first hour in almost every aspect. I like a lot of things about the game but I stopped at about 35 hours because I felt I was just grinding my wheels for nothing.

      The core mechanic of the game revolves around maintaining and building supply lines so you can feed your towns and troops. This is pretty fun for a while. However, as your army grows it becomes a real pain to keep them fed and you have little in the way of finding out why your food supplies are suddenly gone and 3 cities have rebelled, no longer willing to be part of your growing faction. The one thing I can say about the game is that raiding parties are actually the nuisance they should be in ever war game.

  8. matnym says:

    Started on the prologue today. I haven’t really seen enough to give a fair judgment yet but I’m enjoying it so far. I did feel surprisingly disappointed by some of their design choices, though. Just little things, like the abstract menus and icons. They look neat and all, like classical Greek pottery art, but at the same time a bit… sterile. I guess I just like having a clear picture (quite literally) of what I’m building.

    Also, am I the only one who really enjoyed Empire? The campaign did drag a bit once your empire had grown big, however that has pretty much been an issue with every TW game. Even Shogun II which has the atrocious “realm divide” event which completely renders diplomacy useless, leaving steamrolling the only viable strategy.

    Anyway, what the Total War series need is an end game that isn’t just total war. Though that might be asking too much.

    • Feste says:

      I just finished a fun playthrough of Empire. The presence of artillery makes the battles quite spectacular, sieges are lovely and pyrotechnic while canister shotgun cannons are always fun.

      I think the traditional Total War maneuvering by lines thing works quite well for Empire, and the research changes to Fire-by-Rank, Platoon fire, bayonets etc. worked quite well.

      However, I was playing as Prussia and that removes half of the clunky colonisation stuff from the game. I took one look at the initial setup as England, and never went back to them. That said, it would bode well the a US Civil War game/expansion.

    • nindustrial says:

      I was going to (and may yet) add a comment about Empire being my favorite of the TW games. I recognize that it had flaws, but I really loved that game for its ambition and scale.

    • smg77 says:

      I loved Empire…looking at my Steam stats it has more time put into it than any other TW game.

    • Colej_uk says:

      I’m with you on Empire, I think that was the best.

      Especially the ship battles, which at first I avoided- as being a long time TW fan, ship combat was unfamiliar and confusing. But those who haven’t yet, give Empire’s ship combat a chance. Once you know what you’re doing it’s tonnes of fun! Even more so than the land battles which can be a little slow with the gunpowder combat.

      I’m also with you on the building pottery art icons. They feel like just a perk, not a building without a little image of them. Silly, I know.

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      As already stated by others, I and many others loved Empire. RPS just doesn’t like the TW formula. They want it to be a different type of game that it is and are somehow surprised when it hasn’t changed specifically to suit their interests.

    • Maritz says:

      Another +1 for Empire here: my second most played TW game after Medieval 2, but probably my favourite. Sadly, growing older affords less time for gaming, which is why M2 has more hours sunk into it.

      Not had a chance to load up Rome 2 yet, so I’ll see, but I doubt it’s going to match the Empire setting for me.

    • distantlurker says:

      yep me too, another +1.

      It’s by far and away my fave of the series – Rome I 100+ hours, Empire 200+. Once they fixed the gamebreaking bugs, it was the most far reaching and (sorry for the noughties nomenclature) Epic of the series for me.

      And the fleet battles totally made me Squeee!

      I would very much like an Empire 2, and if they could release it without a frightful bug list on Day 1 (which would be a first for the series as a whole ^^), I think that would be the definitive TW for me.

      I’m decided. I’m skipping Rome II, tnx Jim & Adam.

    • Great Cthulhu says:

      Empire was the last truly great TW, as far as I’m concerned. I loved the immense scope, the radical asymmetry in regions (size of city, number of villages), emerging nations (Hungary, Quebec, USA, etc.), naval combat, etc.

      I just wish that instead of immediately working on Napoleon, CA had spent some more time squashing bugs. I still get annoyed every time I run into the unrepairable fortress bug.

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      Empire is my most played TW game and I have played all of them, except the expansion to Shogun 2. I loved it.

      As broken as Rome 2 is, I actually can’t stop playing it. I am closing in on 70 hours…

  9. thetruegentleman says:

    I don’t mean to be rude, but of course Shogun 2 is going to feel more polished: its been out for years now, with plenty of patches, expansions and mods to flesh it out. What I (we?) want to know is exactly why Rome 2 doesn’t feel right: sure, losing a battle due to bugs is a big problem, but how common are such bugs? Faction unit variety seems to be a problem, but that was true in Rome and Medieval 2 as well.

    But is the combat unbalanced, so that it feels like some factions are just too hard to fight? Is the typical early game lull that comes after the subjugation of weak neighbors noticeably worse than in the past? Does the AI crank out armies with no variety and then do nothing with them?

    In other words, is this a case of “doesn’t live up to the hype” or actually, “quantifiable problems drag the game down”? Sure, some factions probably won’t be fun to play without an expansion, and this is bad if your a fan of those factions; but if I want to play as Rome, should I play this game?

    • Feste says:

      Shogun 2 felt more polished on day 1 though. I think that’s the problem. Rome has a bunch of ideas which haven’t necessarily been integrated gracefully, whereas Shogun was much more focussed.

      Some of the ideas such as only being able to raise an army under a general, and in turn only getting a limited number of those, change the way Total War works quite dramatically. Now, instead of manually building a garrison, different city building give you a set garrison.

      This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but even the minor provinces start off very strong and you will spend a number of turns recruiting 3 units and then clicking ‘End Turn’. By streamlining it they’ve reduced some of the options you had and it’s very noticeable at the start. You mention an early game lull after subjugating weak neighbours, I haven’t yet found any weak neighbours, so the lull is right there when you start.

      • michaelfeb16 says:

        Shogun 2 only felt polished because it didn’t try to do anything. It blows my mind how people simultaneously complain that the total war franchise isn’t “moving forward” while somehow claiming that the least innovative and least ambitious game is the only decent one made since Medieval 2.

        • Feste says:

          None of those things are mutually exclusive. ‘Pushing the design forward’ doesn’t prevent a game from being a mess; in contrast while Shogun 2 was very staid, it’s systems and design hung together pretty well to create a game that was relatively fun and gave a good period feel. In other words Shogun 2 was unambitious but a good game; Rome 2 tends towards the opposite.

          The problem is that after a decade of doing this CA still seem unsure as to how to develop their systems. The design of the game swings quite wildly around and sometimes with very little focus. Even Shogun 2 had some pretty blatant errors in the design, the way that food would globally grow your economy meant that actually building anything became a bad idea!

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      Yes, if you want to play Rome, it works well.

  10. frenz0rz says:

    I used to be a Total War devotee, but I must say since getting into Paradox games a few years back I can’t see myself ever returning if CA continue with their current formula.

    I recall hearing the same discussions on the TW Center forums back when Empire came out; the campaign map side of Total War simply cannot compare with the complexity, depth and plain interestingness of historical simulation games like EU3, probably due in large part to the fact that it’s only 50% of the game they’re developing. The more expansive and elaborate they try to make it, the more it all seems to fall apart.

    So why bother trying to create a grand strategy map in the same formula? I’m stunned that CA haven’t played to their strengths and at least attempted to take the series down a more compact, purely war-focused direction. Ditch the poorly-implemented nation management layer altogether and simply let us manuever, ambush, feint, march and fight.

    If you’re gonna make a game called Total War, why focus on anything else?

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Yes! My thoughts exactly.

      I have tried a few times to get into the Total War series, but it was really only the battles that I found interesting. I have a severe dislike to the strategic map.

      For my strategic needs I look towards the Civ series or the CK/EU games.

    • drewski says:

      Sounds like you want Total Battle, not Total War.

      The strategic campaign, gimped or not, is a massive, massive part of the reason the Total War series remains wildly popular.

    • fish99 says:

      I’ve often though they could just merge the campaign map and battle interface, and just have one interface where you do everything – fight, build, recruit etc. If you’re talking about actually getting rid of the campaign though, that’s what most people buy TW games for, so hell no. I wouldn’t buy a TW game ever again if they ditched the campaign.

    • Nate says:

      Well, they don’t do the battles very well either. Their rule system is a collection of kludges that give the illusion of strategy for the first half of a campaign– by the time a campaign is finished, a player ought to know how to game morale and missiles, and the battles stop being any fun.

      Probably since Medieval 2 (but it was already started then), the only thing CA’s games have had going for them is this illusion of generalship, and not fun, interesting games. Focusing their efforts isn’t going to help unless they revisit their core design. And if they revisit their core design, they might as well revisit the big map too.

      I fully expect CA games make twice as much as Paradox games do. There’s no reason (beyond the multiplayer niche, which complicates things) that a strategic game as good as CKII couldn’t be paired with a tactical battle game like TW’s– the two systems require barely any integration.

  11. Branthog says:

    I don’t understand how they keep getting away with this.

    • JonClaw says:

      Blind consumerism.

      • Bhazor says:

        They’re such hacks. Thats why there are so many superior high budget high concept rts tbs hybrids with great AI like… err…

        Talentless hacks the lot of them.

      • nearly says:

        the game has been out for, what, a day now? I’m all for the “no preorders” thing, mainly because I don’t buy new releases to start with, but there are a lot of people that were legitimately excited for this game and had every reason to be. that it fell flat and didn’t match those expectations (that is, wasn’t the one total war to rule them all) doesn’t mean it’s time to start shouting “blind consumerism strikes again!” from the rooftops. there isn’t a perfect game out there, and most have missteps. I imagine that a number of people will be quite content with this and I myself am still willing to pick up a copy at some point down the road.

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      ..maybe people enjoy the games? I know it might seem impossible to enjoy a game

    • Strabo says:

      With releasing a good, fun but flawed game?

    • gunny1993 says:

      Because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      Because they provide something that people want, but can’t get elswhere. And no, Paradox games aren’t an alternative. Not for me anyway.

  12. The Dark One says:

    You guys alluded to the length of the AI turns, but how bad is it, exactly? Is this a situation where the game is CPU-bound on older machines, or is it just really long and slow for everybody?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s taking a couple of minutes on an i5 by the middle of a campaign.

      • nimrod123 says:

        thats getting toward pride of nations bad.

      • Bluerps says:

        Oh my. Really? I don’t think I can play this, then. :/

        I can understand that the AI in a strategy game needs time to decide its move, and that it’s in general not trivial to implement a game AI that is both smart and fast. But this is just to much. It would drive me insanse very fast.

        • Werthead says:

          It’s down to the sheer mass of factions, since every little rebel group is now a separate faction (120, I believe). I’m actually surprised it remains a big problem in late-game (I’ve only got about 10 hours on the clock so far) as I’d have thought the number of factions would have been wittled down quite substantially by then.

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      The most worthy criticism of this game I’ve heard is the turn length. They are terrible. I browse the internet or read between turns.

    • rcwerder says:

      I am currently running an Phenom 2 1090T overclocked, and it actually takes about 7 seconds for a turn. I guess I am just lucky.

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      160 turns in, it’s taking about one and a half minutes with my FX6350. Hope it doesn’t increase too much.

  13. CountVlad says:

    I think I must be one of the lucky ones that hasn’t experienced any noticable bugs so-far. I never really got on with Shogun 2. It just felt a bit too small to me so the size of the map in Rome II is welcome.
    I’m enjoying the game but there are some things that don’t seem to make much sense to me on a design level and several features that are missing that were in Rome 1.

    For example, some of my generals have a huge retinue pool… but you can only select one to use at any one time. Personally I think the old retinue system used in Rome 1 was better where characters could have multiple people/items in their retunue at any one time and the player had no choice about who or what was in it.

    I think the senate system was better in Rome 1. The system in Rome 2 just doesn’t seem to communicate very well what its purpose is (I still haven’t figured it out) but maybe it makes more sense later in the game.

    Family trees, marriage, etc. Almost all the relationships side of things seems to have been removed. Ok, those features are not essential for the game to work but it added some personality to the characters in the game. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by CKII. ;)

    I would say it’s a decent game overall but they seem to have exchanged a certain amount of personality for technology/graphics and ‘streamlining’.

  14. njolnin says:

    The discussion seemed to deal mostly on the strategic side of things, but there was very little talk about the actual battles. I understand why RPS would focus on the campaign, but for many players the battles are by far the most important part of the game, and there’s not really much of a verdict there at all.

    Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the series, but I’ve picked up a couple of titles on sale for dirt cheap, and the battles are the only thing that held my interest. The campaigns were always tedious, with tense battles spaced between a large amount of tedious mop-up operations. Similarly, managing the empire didn’t give me the variety, choices, or control that I like in a game like Civ.

    So, assuming I’m not interested in the campaign at all, how entertaining are the battles in the game?

    • Feste says:

      The biggest change is I think the true LOS, which does have some interesting effects. In a siege, the computer managed to blindside me and sneak a unit up to my other gate and burn it down. That might be because I’m an idiot though.

      There’s also a Realism Mode, which removes the minimap and chains your camera close your units. Haven’t tried it, but it’s a nice touch.

      Beyond that it seems similar to the other battles in the other games. There seems an awful lot of cool down abilities, which I’m not a fan of, but there are some toggle modes. It does feel better I have to say, but it’d be difficult to pin it down.

  15. Casimir Effect says:

    I’m a TW fan and loved the original Rome so I’ll probably pick this up at some point. The main thing for me will be waiting until enough patches have rolled out such that I only have to content with the mechanical failings of the game. And those I reckon will be very subjective, as Creative Assembly were always going to be on a bit of a hiding-to-nothing with Rome 2. The first was just so good, and has aged so well. It’s a game that couldn’t be followed, especially as the series fans tend to be pretty harsh critics (which is great to a certain extent, and something other games really need). So some persons crushing disappointment could just end up as a none-thing for another person. But, to return to my first point, all flaws are amplified when the game is buggy.

    To follow on from that, and because it takes such a beating, I’d like to point out that Empire in its current state is fantastic and well worth playing. It’s nicely different from all other TW games and the scope is wonderful. Napoleon is also an excellent game and adds some wonderful new mechanics, but Empire is where your hundreds of hours will lie.

  16. zal says:

    I’ve only played 12 turns so far, and I will say I like it a little less than shogun 2 (but the shogun ones have always been my favorite). But not for any of the reasons listed.. I felt that to accomdate the large size it suffered visually a little, and they took a couple steps back in the battle interface, hard grouping a force in formation doesn’t keep that formation for instance, making it harder to wrangle large forces.

    In terms of the starting boredom factor, I started in Parthia (edge of the map so I assumed it would be dull and safe start to get a feel?) and in those 12 turns I’ve experienced
    Food shortages, (and moving my armies into allied territories to forage just to keep them from deserting)
    Desertion (because I had to move them back to defend a city)
    Plague,
    Ally picking a fight with another faction and dragging me in
    Ally doing it again
    Me forced marching my army to grab a city out from under my ally, only to have a different power take it from both.
    Me forced marching my army back to intercept another army.
    Doubling my army with hired mercenaries and Taking a City
    My ally taking a city, and then promptly losing it to rebellion because it had to march ITS army back to defend ITS city.
    Me taking City from rebels (sucks to be my ally, I’ve now taken the spoils of his wars and lived off his land)
    and a mixture of poisoning/arson and general spy trickery.

    All this from a one province land locked nation. I definitely agree it doesn’t have the awesome shine of Shogun 2, but I’m definitely not lacking in things to do at the start.

    EDIT: my territories at turn 11 were 3 non adjacent provinces only one of which contained a walled city. and none of which were in the same Region. but its coming together slowly. Forced march is my friend.

    • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

      “hard grouping a force in formation doesn’t keep that formation for instance, making it harder to wrangle large forces.”

      CTRL + G

      • zal says:

        You are my pal, no idea how I missed that… especially since G and CTRL-G are THE FIRST 2 ITEMS ON THE KEY BINDS LIST. I’m chalking it up to over-enthusiasm.

  17. NetsukeMonkey says:

    I know it’s silly but I’ve been hoping to fall in love with this game in the same way I did with Rome 1. But both this and the WIT has shown me it’s not to be. Alea iacta est

    • drewski says:

      I think the silly thing is deciding you’re not going to fall in love with it before you meet it.

      RPS – pre-emptively ruining gaming relationships :-(

  18. UncleLou says:

    Great, if disappointing, dialogue. I think you hit the nail on the head though when you discussed how the whole campaign is always more a distraction, because TW always only really pretends to be grand strategy, while you never have the freedom of games like Civ or EU. You’re more or less going through the motions. That said, you may also be right that it’s just fatigue with the formula – maybe it’s not really a problem of Rome 2 as such.

    I wonder how a Total War game with a completely linear campaign, but with meticulously set up “historical” battles would feel.

    All that said, I bought the game, and I am sure it will entertain me like TW always does*, but I am already at the.point where I am not expecting great surprises. Which is disappointing in itself, I guess.

    *with the exception of Shogun, funnily enough, which I barely played

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yes, I’d be happy with less agency on the diplomacy and economy front, because these are things that Creative have chosen not to invest in compared to Paradox. Then again, Norbsoft have hit the battle sim thing out of the park. So I’m not sure where that leaves Total War for me any more. Perhaps a mid-way between hardcore and casual? Certainly I’ve had a lot of fun in Total War games in the past. I was prepared to love this, and frankly it sounds like something that would have scored in the nineties ten years ago, but times change and it sounds like this hasn’t. Ah well. I don’t have so much time for huge strategy game anyway, I suppose.

      • drewski says:

        I think that mid-way has *always* been CA’s target market, hence their desire for “Hollywood history” over realism, to the ongoing chagrin of the grognards.

        • Gap Gen says:

          Right, and I think it’s fair to say that my tastes have evolved, and I have less time to burn on long-form strategy games. I would like it if the series took AI as seriously as graphics, but then I’m happy playing more niche games that provide that.

    • Infinitron says:

      “I wonder how a Total War game with a completely linear campaign, but with meticulously set up “historical” battles would feel.”

      They did that with Alexander. It was pretty good.

  19. Baldanders says:

    Can’t say all this is unexpected.
    Hopefully Europa Barbarorum II will come out sooner or later and we’ll have a proper RTW sequel.

  20. Binho says:

    Was one of the few games I was looking forward to this year. That said, can’t say I’ve been waiting with baited breath. I’m sad at the reviews, but I’m not exactly surprised I guess. Glad I didn’t pre-order!

    Probably will end up getting it on a Christmas sale. Still have Shogun II to play. Bought it a year ago on sale, but never really felt the urge to play it.

    Maybe after Empire, I’m Total Warred out.

  21. L3TUC3 says:

    I haven’t gotten too far into it but thus far the technical side has me disappointed.

    CA in all their gracefulness implemented an auto-detect system that for me sets graphics to their maximum settings (extreme) and an automatic settings downgrader if you somehow don’t match settings criteria in the game proper reverting the settings.

    In short, the settings menu happily tells me I have the ability to run the game in all it’s glory, yet then resets the textures to low upon loading into a campaign.

    I can sort of understand why this is the case, but not how it’s a good idea.

  22. Zenicetus says:

    For anyone on the fence who is a fan of the previous TW games and is holding off because of the negativity here…. I’d say… keep reading, and keep an open mind.

    I’m not far into the game yet, just fooling around with combat and a quick look at a campaign, but it’s not that bad, at least not from what you’d think in some of the posts here. It’s not a quantum leap forward in the TW series for sure, and maybe that’s what some people were expecting?

    So far, it feels like more of the same thing we’ve seen in earlier games, with a few nips and tucks in the campaign design, and a few additions on the battle map.

    There are some interesting ideas that might be actual improvements, like being able to group units and put them under temporary AI control while you’re doing something else with the main army. That has potential for reducing the micro during battles, at least for holding a defensive position. The line-of-sight hiding is potentially useful (if the AI knows how to use it). So far, at least in the battles, I haven’t seen anything to scream and holler about.

    You want a modern update of Rome: TW, which people have been asking about for years? Well, here it is, warts and all. For me, that might be enough. Especially as the game matures over the next couple of years.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      “like being able to group units and put them under temporary AI control while you’re doing something else with the main army.”

      That’s not new at all. I even remember such a feature from the original Rome (I think).

      • Grygus says:

        No. You’re remembering allowing the AI to run a reinforcement stack. He’s talking about highlighting some guys in the stack you’re controlling, and letting the AI run them. Completely new to the series.

  23. Diving Duck says:

    The $80US they wanted to charge me on Steam put me off this right away. After reading this I am glad it did – thanks for the save ‘unfair regional pricing regime’! :o)

    Edit: It seems to have dropped to $60US overnight. Still too pricey for muggins here though.
    Edit2: Back to $80US again

  24. sinister agent says:

    The strategy map would be better served as an ancillary to combat rather than an attempt to Civilize the series.

    This was my biggest problem with Empire (aside from the abysmal AI that embarassed itself on my very first fight), and the reason I let it sit around for ages before finally playing it properly. There’s just too much bloody fiddling about on the map. Just getting to a single battle meant faffing around and tutorialising for what seemed like far too long.

    I like the original Medieval precisely because its campaign map was so much simpler – put your units where you want them, each can cross one province or use ships to land on any accessible coast. If I wanted to dick around with maneouvres and special units and researchers on the world map, I’d be playing EU3 or [insert basically any civ-like here]. I doubt I’ll bother with this one, as I’ve already got Rome if I want to lob spears at some goths.

    It does look gorgeous, though.

  25. cjlr says:

    Europa Barbarorum. Europa Barbarorum 2.

    Unmentioned in the above comments. For shame, and such.

  26. miyadaman says:

    I’m confused about what you guys are saying with the modding. The Total War games have always been among the heaviest, and best modded games in existence. To say it’s “not proven” seems like a fib.

    Medieval 2 – One of the most beloved modded games out there. Tons of people still play this game simply because the mods for it are so amazing.

    Empire & Shogun 2 – Darthmod. ‘Nuff said. A mod so good it has featured articles written about it in tech magazines. If that’s not your style there are about 4-5 Super Mods for each game that have each been recognized for their technical merit.

    Rome – Europa Barbarorum. If these guys make this mod for Rome 2, CA could charge double for the game and it would still be worth it. This is, simply put, the mod to end all mods. It’s been called by more than some as the best mod ever. For any game. Period. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are numerous accounts of people going back to this for the original game as a “better” substitute of the new game. The only problem with this one is its stability if you have Rome through Steam (as I do).

    Basically, Total War has always had a love affair with modders, with some of the greatest mods / modders ever coming from these games. With this title already having CA’s backing of being easily moddable I would say the future looks bright.

    As for the actual game, in the 4 hours I put in last night it’s been fine to me. A lot of reviewer’s gripes are more about idiocity than the game. I read one review that said unhappiness is shown only on a province level so you have little information about strategic choices. Even after a few hours I know that’s a complete lie. Unhappiness can easily be found in the info bar of every city you have. IGN’s early video “review in progress” had a guy griping about more bugs because he couldn’t end his army’s move in the control zone of a hostile city. This has been the case of every single Total War game for the last 12 years! It helps if people who actually know what they are talking about review a game.

    • nimrod123 says:

      since the warscape engine came in, modding total war has been more like hacking.

      you have to decrypt the tables, get threatned with bans for talking about some of the more sensitive stuff, can’t change the map, can barely change the units.

      basicly all you can do are cheat mods, skin changes, and rebalancing

      • miyadaman says:

        I’m not a modder so I’ll have to take your word on it. What I do know is that Darthmod for Shogun 2 took that game from “pretty good” to “very good”. Although I do remember the message boards being filled with requests and him basically saying “I can’t do that. The code won’t let me.”

    • jonahcutter says:

      The Europa Barbarorum guys have pretty much put the kibosh on any idea of doing a version of their mod for Rome 2. EB2 itself is still being put together for Medieval 2, and I think they’ve stated that there is no way they could mod the newer engine to be able to create the experience they want.

      EB is an incredible piece of work. Arguably one of the highest points achieved in gaming. Hopefully EB2 matches up.

  27. chabuhi says:

    I am a terrible, terrible person. Weak. Like a thieving macaque monkey, I am unable to resist shiny things. I had vowed not to pre-purchase another game, yet in the eleventh hour I lost my constitution and pushed the purchase for myself button. I wish now that I had known this article was dropping today. I have not yet launched he game, and now I’m not sure if I’ll bother.

    Edit: Well, maybe all is not lost. I started my comment about 3 hours ago, so did not see 15 miyadaman’s comment until now. I remain cautiously optimistic.

  28. Sigh says:

    Question:

    I have this installed on my PC right now. Should I delete it (to wait for patches/mods) and go play Shogun 2 or Napoleon instead? I own those as well, but never got around to playing them. I feel like I should start with a high point in the series and see if this game develops into something more interesting. Thoughts?

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      Just play the game. For all the complaints it isn’t a bad game. The complaints can all be summarized as “they keep doing X, Y, and Z that the fans like and always sells, but I want them to do A, B, and C!!”

  29. farrier says:

    Maybe I’m not quite right in the head, but Adam’s WIT actually SOLD this game for me. I was certainly not confused at all about the verdict he was giving, but the main points I took from it were that Rome II

    - was massive and even bloated in scope
    - sagging under the weight of its detail
    - a bit complex and overwhelming to take in
    - barely changed in terms of strategic and tactical depth (or “depth”) from Shogun 2
    - set in Roman Empire times (well, this one I figured out myself)

    Uhh — take my money?

    Maybe part of what helped me was that I pretty much ignored all media about the game until yesterday, when I started watching gameplay videos from reviewers on youtube (DiplexHeated). I was just hoping for a bigger Shogun 2 set around Rome, and so far, I’ve got it. Maybe also it’s helped that I haven’t had any of the bugs/glitches/issues that people are screaming about on the Steam forum.

    And maybe I completely misinterpreted those bits I gleaned from Adam’s WIT.

    Regardless, I’m ecstatic. I love innovation and steps “forward” in games and sequels, but for TW, I just didn’t expect it. And maybe that’s being jaded, but I really don’t expect that sort of thing from large producers anymore. They gave me more-more-MORE of the same and fortunately that happened to be what I was looking for.

    For a lot of people, hopefully a year from now (or, more hopefully, less than that) patches and an expansion will steer it more toward the game they were expecting.

    • michaelfeb16 says:

      You’re not alone. I was going to hold off on Rome 2 until a sale, but I read his WIT and came to the same conclusion you seem to have reached.

      I preordered, preloaded, and got up at 3AM to play it when it unlocked because of his WIT.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yes, this is a fair point. Even though the tone of the article is a bit bleak, it basically says that it’s very like other Total War releases. If you’re happy with that, then you’re absolutely not wrong to buy it.

    • Volcanu says:

      I think its all a question of expectations going in.

      Sounds like yours were pretty modest. But I can understand people getting a sense of ennui because the formula feels so familiar. Thats been the case for most TW games since Rome really.

      I love the TW series but have often found if you’ve recently played through a campaign on one game in the series I’m a bit ‘Total Warred’ out and am in no hurry to paly the next in the series (although I inevitably get around to it at some point).

      For me, the basic set up of the TW series is something Im pretty happy with, its always been more about how its implemented. Which is where the series can be a little dissapointing. AI (as many have said) is always the weak spot. I want to face existential threats to my empire through a cunning and vicious AI and not through cheap artificial drags like ever increasing disorder, ‘realm divide’, being attacked by (much weaker) allies at arbitrary points and so on. I get that these are mechanics designed to stop you reaching critical mass and steamrolling the map but I find them somewhat immersion breaking.

      Anyone got any experience as to whether this aspect of the game has improved?

      Basically, I’ve never had that ‘Hannibal’ moment in ANY Total War where a massive army has brought the fight to my heartlands and forced me to fight a desperate, high stakes battle. Its almost always an annoyance whereby the computer throws armies piecemeal at random fortifications, even on the harder difficulty levels…from some comments I’ve read elsewhere this problem seems to have become worse rather than better?

  30. sventoby says:

    Online is a huge letdown too. Why do they hate giving me options so I can play it the way I want?

  31. michaelfeb16 says:

    I can’t help but thinking “you just aren’t their audience” every time I see RPS write about Total War.

    Everyone that I know personally and everyone I play games with online thought that Empire was the best TW game yet. They seem to be thrilled that Rome 2 has some ambition again. Shogun 2 was a disappointment and didn’t see much playtime.

    Sure, this is all anecdotal, but it seems to speak to some of the confusion you appear to have about the series. You seem perplexed that it sells so well even going so far as to use some reaching comparison to being “too big to fail”. But the issue is much simpler than that – you don’t want what the series is. The series is what the audience wants – you just aren’t in that audience.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      As someone who’s been reading this site for a number of years, I do find it absolutely essential to get a feel for the writers’ preferences, and to always take into account how they may differ with your own when reading their coverage.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      Nonsense.
      First of all, why is anyone who doesn’t agree that this game is splendid “not their audience”? Rome (1) is still without doubt the most loved game of the series, are these people “not their audience”? I personally know not a single person who liked Empire (and they’re all huge TW fans), are they somehow “not their audience?

      Tastes differ, and while you are of course allowed to enjoy this game, that does not mean you or your opinion are somehow worth more, being part of some “real audience”. Whatever you may think, I’m sure a huge number of people (all fans of TW) will agree with what is said above and in the WIT: that it’s a great game, but lacking in a few aspects.

      • drewski says:

        I’m sorry, but that Rome is the “most popular” is very much “in” doubt.

        I bet I could poll 100 Total War fans and wouldn’t get close to a 50% majority favourite for any of the games. Judging by this reply thread, we’ve got one anecdotal group who love Empire, one anecdotal group who love Shogun 2, and I’ll add my anecdotal group who think the series peaked with Medieval 2.

    • gunny1993 says:

      That’S funny, everyone i play with says Empire was good but shogun 2 was far better. (Proably because we’re not a fan of guns)

      • Gap Gen says:

        Guns work fine with the Total War battle setup (play Scourge of War: Gettysburg). And I enjoyed Empire fine. The problem was that the campaign map didn’t really capture the sense of the period, with grand alliances and European nations exploding into the world, fighting tooth and nail over foreign colonies and fields in Belgium. Like the Verdict says, Total War works best when there are clear enemies and your job is just to go kerb-stomp them. It doesn’t have the subtlety or grace to capture world politics and diplomacy, and when it picks a time period where that was important it generally fails, whether or not the basic formula is compelling in of itself.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I *think* it was Jim who gave Rome 1 95% in PC Gamer whenever that came out (2005?). So I wouldn’t say that RPS is particularly at odds with people on previous TW games here.

      EDIT: Oh, and he gave Empire 94%: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/209544/reviews/empire-total-war-review/

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        I also argued to put Medieval 1 at number one in the PC Gamer Top 100 of that year. So yeah, I am a fan. Hence the OPENING LINE OF THIS ARTICLE being “i am usually a Total War apologist”.

        • C0llic says:

          Medieval 1 remains my favourite total war game. I desperately want them to strip all of this civ light complication and return to that.

          It had so many great things. The perfect mood set by the campaign map that made you feel like a king moving peices around on a scale model of europe, faction re emergences, minor civil wars, the capturing and ransoming of prisoners.

          Rome just about managed to handle the extra compexitiy of the campaign map, but it lost quite a lot in terms of the feel it evoked. It’s been downhill since then, with shogun II being the only step in the right direction.

          I miss the old total war games.

        • Bhazor says:

          “Hence the OPENING LINE OF THIS ARTICLE being “i am usually a Total War apologist”

          Which is one of the most pessimistic and critical opening lines I’ve read in a while. To me it reads as

          “Now I know the Total War series is rubbish but some of have argued it isn’t quite the worst thing but even I can’t defend this crap”.

          Then spending the rest of the review complaining about the whole point of the Total War series (the campaign map) really makes it sound like you hate the whole concept.

          • Volcanu says:

            I think thats over egging the pudding a bit. That opening line reads (to me) like “well being a fan of the series I am normally the one who defends it’s shortcomings, but honestly I’m fed up that they havent been addressed and ultimately I didnt feel the magic this time”. It was more of a ‘meh’, than withering criticism.

            Secondly I dont recall Jim actually spending all that much time discussing the campaign map. What I took away from the discussion above, was more a sense of disapointment (which seems fairly consistent across most other reviews) that it ultimately doesnt quite live up to the promise of a more engaging campaign experience. It really doesnt come across that the RPS guys hate the whole concept, more that in their view, CA have played it safe again when the series could do with a shake up to make it feel fresh again.

            Ultimately it seems clear that if you like the TW concept you’ll enjoy it, but wont really feel like you’re experiencing anything that represents radical improvement.

        • Feste says:

          Wot C0llic said. Medieval 1 was the Total War game that I loved unconditionally. I still remember some specific and vast scraps that I had with the AI. In my memory it’s grown to be CK2 with battles, I’m sure that the dynasty dynamics were more involved than they are now. Could be wrong though.

          Bringing back the Risk-style movement could really make everything better. It’d speed the game up and leave you to conentrate on the battles. Some of the strategic movement might be lost, but I still remember having to be very careful about where I’d put armies.

          All of which amounts to: ‘God, I’m old’.

  32. Grape Flavor says:

    I’m finding the criticism of this game to be frustratingly vague. There seems to be some sort of consensus that Rome II is a disappointment, but not a lot of elaboration on precisely what is wrong with the game, beyond general terms like “a bit bloated”, “rough around the edges”, “doesn’t really move the series forward”, etc.

    I’ve read several lukewarm reviews of this sort by now, and the most concrete criticism I’ve been able to pull out of them is that this game seems to be saddled with some appallingly long end-of-turn times. That’s a start, I guess, but not enough to give me a good picture of the game design itself, which I’m more interested in than the technical hiccups.

    This is just a theory, but it kind of smells to me like Rome II is suffering from a case of formula fatigue with the reviewers. Perhaps it’s the same game design as before, executed with roughly the same level of competency, but repetition has made the formula less impressive over time?

    That would be great news, because I have only a passing familiarity with the Total War series and this would not affect me in the same manner.

    • Gap Gen says:

      One thing I might caution is that Total War games have historically been quite broken on release, and this appears to be no exception. They’re eventually fixed up to a decent standard, but if you don’t fancy hacking through bugs you could do worse than play Shogun 2 now and then get this once it’s patched up. Certainly reviews used to overlook (or somehow miss) bugs in the series (the AI’s inability to launch invasions across water was a big one in many of them), and this seems to be less the case now.

      But yes, I wonder if it’s simply that Total War hasn’t moved on enough to keep reviewers entertained. Certainly I used to love Total War games but have played very little Shogun 2, and never got Napoleon. Another possibility is that with Paradox going from strength to strength the lacklustre AI in the campaign makes it look shallower than before. It’s worth noting that marking down a game for being behind the times is completely fair, and happens all the time. Several older shooters that scored highly years ago would be marked down now for missing innovations made in the intervening years, for example.

    • Werthead says:

      Criticisms I have right now:

      1) Sometimes the minimap will vanish for no discernible reason (when you expand it again, it’s just blank). This appears to be a small bug with the game switching on the bit of the ‘restricted UI’ mode which hides the minimap. This is fairly minor and should be fixed pretty quickly.

      2) The game seems to adjust its graphics settings on the fly even if you manually set them. Whilst this makes the game run quite fast, it’s also pretty conservative. When the game looks half as good as SHOGUN 2 (which ran perfectly fine with everything on the highest settings for me) even when you’re fighting on a field with three units on each side, something’s gone wrong somewhere. Presumably there’s a way of switching it off and doing it manually properly, but I haven’t delved too deeply into the settings menu yet.

      3) In terms of gameplay, the ‘legion’ system may be the biggest change to gameplay into the entire history of TOTAL WAR, which makes it baffling why more reviewers aren’t mentioning it as anything more than an incidental detail. Basically, you don’t have tons of individual units to command any more, you have legions. You can recruit new legions by hiring a new general and he then adds more troops to his legion. You build troops from the legion in the field, not the city (though the city’s buildings do determine what units are available) and your legion cannot be split, except to swap units with another legion. Your number of legions is determined by how big your empire is (I don’t know the ratio, but I think offhand it’s that you can reruit one new legion for every province – four regions – you conquer).

      This has a huge impact on conquering cities, pacifying them and guarding them. Unless you commit the entire legion to defending a city, you can’t use military units as city guards. Instead, each city can auto-generate its own militia to defend the walls against an enemy attack. You can affect this with different buildings, but you have no control over it. This is – somewhat – historically accurate, as legions were armies for fighting Rome’s enemies in the field, not glorified police forces (and Caesar was opposed in part for bringing a Roman legion across the Rubicon and into Rome itself, a clear violation of the Republic’s law and tradition). However, it causes problems because the same issue of newly-conquered regions being prone to unrest and rebellion is still there. So either your legions spend absolutely ages in one place until unrest falls and they can move on (hence some of the complaints about there not being much to do), or you spend a fortune on rapidly upgrading cities with culture and religious buildings.

      Given that the previous TOTAL WAR games allowed you to blitzkrieg through enemy territories with powerful armies and use cheap troops as police forces to pacify the new cities, it is rather bizarre that the new game – a sequel – forces you to go slower. It might be more realistic, but this isn’t a historically realistic series, as CA themselves admit.

      I don’t know how the non-Roman factions handle armies. If it’s traditional and not the legion system, that removes the most problematic aspect of the game for me.

      4) Diplomacy is totally screwed. Tiny little one-region nations will refuse to trade with you for no reason and factions you are totally annihilating will not seek peace. There’s also the ‘Realm Divide’ thing from SHOGUN II where everyone bum-rushes you the second you get too powerful. Whilst idiotic and unenjoyable in SHOGUN it at least made sense (the clans responding to the Shogun’s command). In ROME II it doesn’t, unless you want to believe barbarians on the Scottish border are capable of masterminding a conspiracy with people in Babylonia and executing simultaneous attacks on your empire with precision timing.

      All of that said, I’m actually quite enjoying the game. I’ve put hundreds of hours into MEDIEVAL I and II and ROME, and have enjoyed SHOGUN II (I bypassed EMPIRE due to the poor reviews, but I do have it and will get around to it at some point) though not to the same extent. ROME II, even in its bugged release date (it’s about as bugged as ROME I, nowhere near as bad as MEDIEVAL II and worse than SHOGUN II on release) is still a lot of fun despite the problems. The attention to detail is incredible, the naval battles are quite a lot better than they have been (if the naval invasion stuff has been a mite oversold) and the illusion the game presents of giving you a huge world to conquer is still intact.

      It’s fun, warts and all. Just please don’t pay £45 for it and waiting for the bugs to be ironed out is certainly worthwhile.

  33. xfrog says:

    Grape Flavor I agree with you , it is suffering from formula fatigue but that is to be expected. I do not think anyone would want a different experience than before, it is Rome II after all. We wanted the same old formula!
    I own the game, it is definitely not bad, but to me it is not that good either. They have added the tactical map, which I liked it but they changed the camera and I was forced to use it cause I could not see my troops, although they were just 4 units, not dealing with a huge battle there, just a fight in the woods. But not a big deal there. That is the main problem of why people say it is not that good, and they do not state things they made them feel that way, making those who haven’t played the game be puzzled of whether it is good or not. It has many not big deals in it. But if you sum up all those not big deals, it is getting a bit tiresome, different and not a worthy successor overall. Plus it has some major deals like the long times it takes between turns.
    For me, it has better graphics than Rome I, they added the tactical map and the ability to merge naval with land battles and sieges. And everything else looks worse. Terrible UI, it subtracts from the immersion, it does not give you info or connect you with the characters and units and the happenings in the map. No family tree like before. Even the transformation to a horse when troops move in the campaign map is silly. Lots of factions, bigger map but actually every area feels smaller and less tactical than before. In battle I do not control my forces, i control ants, that run fast, do not seem to get tired and the unit size is small. It does not have multiplayer like shogun 2 not even the drop in battles and multiplayer is very limited in general.
    I have more to say but I am not a reviewer, so that is my opinion as better I can state it.

  34. gunny1993 says:

    Wasn’t the writer of the WIT yesterday saying the campaign map was the best part and the battles lackluster?

  35. greg_ritter says:

    It’s the first time when I completely and utterly disagree with RPS crew in their verdict.
    The only problem I agree with is the length of AI turns.
    On all the other fronts I love this game. Sure, it will wear off, but I love it to bits for now. I love the new region system, I absolutely adore overall style of pictograms, I like the world map and I absolutely agree with making those “corridors’. Armies can’t march through everything, you know.
    Also, I thought Shogun 2 was worse, at least on release day. Although Fall of Samurai was awesome.

  36. fredc says:

    Although admittedly I’m still working through the prologue, I would just point out that not everyone hated Empire. It’s one of my favourites overall. So if the rest of Rome II is like Empire, I suspect I and a lot of other people will enjoy it.

    While the Shogun II FotS tactical battles are the best looking and most enjoyable of any TW I’ve experienced to date, on a strategic level the AI dogpile in Shogun 2 was both unfun and ahistorical, to the extent that the game was only un-ruined for me by modding to eliminate the dogpile. The only issue I had with Empire was figuring out how to eliminate the trademark CA CtDs and savegame corruption, which took about two years.

  37. Diamond Armand says:

    After playing about 15 hours of Rome 2 so far I have a much better opinion of the game than RPS. I’ve not encountered a single bug or crash. My specs just barely meet the game’s minimum requirements and so as expected I can just barely run it on lowest settings, with considerable lag. That’s the only real problem I’ve had, and that’s not the game’s fault. The time between turns is generally between a minute and 3 minutes (that’s without following AI, with no AI interactions with my faction) which is a bit jarring, but not game-breaking. Besides, some of that wait is probably due to my struggling processor anyway.

    Even on the lowest settings the strategy map is awesome and the dozens of tribes and kingdoms really add variety compared to R:TW’s rebels. My first thought looking at the map was that it looked more like Roma Surrectum than vanilla R:TW. I love it.

    On the lowest graphics settings the battles honestly don’t look that improved from Rome 1 or Medieval 2, but even with my low, low fps they run smoothly and are still fairly impressive to look at. Battles are much faster than in the first Rome, with less extended melees. At first I didn’t like this as it seemed to remove some of the tactical complexity (having less time to manoeuvre reserves) but once I adapted to the speed it’s actually great. Battles are much more decisive and dramatic.

    I’m really enjoying the game, despite my technological impairment. It really does immerse you in the classical world, and the improved empire-style diplomacy really seems to work well. I definitely don’t share Jim and Adam’s disappointment. It’s a good game (if you can put up with slow turn times) and it’ll hopefully just get better and better with DLC and mods.

  38. xfstef says:

    Adam: He’s Dead, Jim !

  39. frightlever says:

    Well, happy enough to wait for the GOTY edition of this. I still have plenty of life left in Shogun 2.

    Empire was my least favourite TW game and I still managed to put about forty hours into it. Hope the franchise gives itself a boot up the ass, something like the Egosoft guys are doing with the X franchise.

    Even the talk of bottle-necks is a retrograde step right back to when the map was Risk-like.

  40. Kong says:

    Having read a lot about this, I opened Steam, looked at the price tag and reconsidered.
    I own every TW game and love the formula.
    But…
    Got Napoleon on sale this year, after the first battle I quit. Cannons firing into the next hillside. Darthmod fixed that. CA did not bother to fix it. That is my dealbreaker today.

    Why do I bother to write this as the 100 and xth comment? Wo cares? Did I play through the Empire campaign despite the huge flaws? Yes. Will I buy Rome 2? Eventually.
    The first time I hesitate to buy a new TW game. I hope this will hurt CA, magically. I haunt the dev’s in their sleep. “fix Empire, fix Empire”
    That does not work, the bastards seem to have quit dreaming

  41. H-Hour says:

    “I can’t think of a strategy game that provides that sort of access, and I am not certain there is one.”

    Huh, no one in the comments mentioned Battle for Wesnoth? Even the mainline content that ships with the game is essentially just packages of what was once mod content. It’s LUA and WML scripting languages have achieved such maturity that I would say it’s transcended itself as a “game” and is now better understood as a gaming platform.

  42. Cytrom says:

    I find find it a bit baffling that a lot of people are complaining how total war’s grand strategy is inferior to paradox games and other complex grand strategy games, and such titles… yet it is total war’s simplified grand strategy element is specifically why i (and I presume a lot of other total war fans) like total war games as opposed to those excel spreadsheet management style strategy “games”. In fact total war is pretty much the only kind of strategy game I like… plus i liked warscraft 3 too, but that’s been like more than 10 years ago and nothing comparable came out since, and warcraft itself is dead thanks to wow.

    I don’t play total war games to plot complex schemes and have intricate diplomacy and world simulation.. i play total war because i wanna be the puppet master of an agressive empire and fight epic battles that are unlike any strategy games out there, where real life tactics work pretty well too.

    I think the main issue here is people’s expectations, and bugs are a non issue since they will be fixed anyways or are irrelevant to whether a game is fun or not (see stalker, obsidian games, bethesda games, etc)

  43. Werthead says:

    “I do feel, actually, that CA need to make an extra special effort to create a Total War game which is radically open to modding. Then they’ll end up with the strategy equivalent of DayZ. Can you imagine?”

    Erm, yes, because that already happened with ROME and MEDIEVAL II. Some of the mods for those games are amazing (THIRD AGE: TOTAL WAR is simply the best LORD OF THE RINGS computer game ever made, which is crazy). After that, CA backed away from modding with spectacular speed. They’ve bleated recently that, “SHOGUN 2 was the most moddable TW game ever” which was a flat-out lie. It may have been the most ‘MODDED’ by their bizarre metric (i.e. there are 50,000 mods for it because they count every minor balance-tweak as a different mod), but there was nothing on the scale of THIRD AGE, WESTEROS or CALL OF WARHAMMER for it because, by their own admission, CA have locked a lot of things from the easily-modifiable .ini files away in hardcoded, inaccessible files.

    “it’s a combined fear of opening the game up to exploitation, and the feeling that releasing the tools means polishing them for end users.”

    The scale of CA’s retreat from modding makes me wonder if legal action was involved: did New Line and Warner Brothers ring up threatening to kick arse over them allowing mods like THIRD AGE to be made, and they agreed to make their future games unmoddable in comparison? Seems unlikely but it’s the only explanation I can think of for why they’ve made the more recent games so hostile to modding. The technical arguments are unconvincing, since the AI in the more recent games has been as problematic (if not moreso) as that in the earlier, more moddable ones, so nothing seems to have been gained by moving away from modifiable files.

  44. miyadaman says:

    I’ve put in a good 6 hours. Not nearly enough to run it through its chops, but I feel I have a small taste of things.

    I can start off by saying I am almost positive that the game bottlenecks with processors. It also seems to love NVidia cards and hate everything else. I’ve noticed most people with lag have i5 processors. I have an i7 (and not even a great one) running it on Ultra settings. I have experienced 0 lag. Ever. I have a decent (but quickly becoming shoddy, sadly) NVidia card. So, as far as laggy this is entirely machine-by-machine case.

    The rest of it – yeah, so it’s a Total War game and the AI does some really stupid things. However, they also do some things I haven’t seen too much in other Total War games before modders get their mits in. In my Sparta campaign I was just blindsided from behind by an enemy faction. I never once saw it coming. They took my city, and now I have to double back with an army to retake the city. Usually vanilla AI is restricted to meeting you head on.

    There are numerous tweaks and reworkings to the interface. Some of these I like, others I don’t. It has made me realize how superior Shogun 2′s interface is. However, it’s an interface. It’s one of those things you get used to after a while and you forget why you hated it. Yeah, it’s not how I would make the game look but I’ll live.

    One person mentioned how you can’t build custom garrisons. That’s not entirely true. One big difference is that in this game EVERY army requires a general. So, to have a garrison you simply need to hire a general. Another difference is that they don’t happen via events, but instead you have a stockpile of politicians you can promote up to field commanders.

    I can already tell a big part of the game in terms of hindering your progress is going to be managing your cities’ happiness. Rebellions, food shortages, revolts, etc. are probably going to be your biggest enemies moving forward. Unlike in previous games where you either a) got big enough you were unstoppable and it was ‘game over’ 50% of the way through, or b) hit a stupid mechanic forcing you to forget 50% of the game (looking at you, Realm Divide) in order to hinder your God Mode, Rome 2 seems to want to hinder you by making your empire harder to control as it gets bigger.

    This makes a lot of the city management a bit more important than other games. At least on par with Empire, probably more so. Much, much more so than Shogun 2. Unfortunately they neutered this by making everything province-related instead of city related. Fortunately, there are probably more provinces in the game than there were cities in Empire. There’s a lot of this going on with the game. They make one change you don’t like and counter it with a change you do. I wonder if, with time, I’ll come to appreciate the changes they did make.

    I’ve waited several years for them to get around to making rebellions and empire issues the main hindrance to your progress. I’m pretty happy with that one.

    I would suggest to everyone reading these reviews or suggestions to hold off and to go find some of the reviews giving the game ’10′s and ’9.5′s. There’s a reason – underneath the bugs, glitches, and wonky interface problems lies a great game. It’s not a direct sequel and if you’re looking for that you will be disappointed. They changed many things. However, I think they did better job at presenting the feel of the ancient world. The world is huge, factions feel different (why are people complaining about unit differences AGAIN?), war is ostensibly one of several options to attack a problem, and you feel vulnerable.

    The battles are as you remember all Total War battles to be. Except this time I think they have the potential to be the best of the series. The number of special moves your troops get really helps immerse you. Do you want to take your hoplites and charge? You get a few options for this. Want to shell up and make them come to you? You get a few options here. Want to entice them to attack your flank, then spring a trap? You can do that, too. And with the new line of sight feature you can actually spring a real trap on them.

    The AI has problems in the battles at times. Patches should fix this.

    The game needs a demo. It needs a few patches followed by a demo.

    The main thing to think is that the underlying game is really good, possibly great. Possibly like 9.5 on anyone’s scale kind of great. The problems are all on the technical side. There’s very little design problems going on. Which means they should all be fixable with a few good patches. It might be worth holding off, or it might be worth jumping on board. I think it’s definitely a bad idea to overlook this one, though.

    As far as the turn waiting, I turned off “show enemy movement”. It helped a little. You shouldn’t have to, but at this time it’s a must. I can see this becoming a problem as my game world gets bigger. Right now it probably takes about 20-25 seconds each turn.

    Again, I’m only 6 hours in. Take that how you want to.

    • Volcanu says:

      Some really helpful stuff in your post thanks, in particular I have been wondering about the campaign AI – sounds like a mixed bag then?

      One thing I dont like the sound of is the increased focus on rebellious cities that you mentioned. Tbh, that always felt like something of a forced mechanic in the previous games (Rome 1 espec and Medieval 2 to a lesser extent). I get the reasons for it- trying to make the latter game something other than a procession – but it always felt quite arbitrary and rather counter to historical reality. It has always been somewhat ridiculous how without a huge garrison, large cities would almost certainly rebel, even if you had a massive army relatively nearby. For the majority of the period covered by the ‘Rome’ games, the legions served as an offensive arm or a mobile reserve and not garrison troops. Clearly there were revolts at various points, but for the most part the threat of the ruthless suppression that would follow kept most cities in line, rather than ‘oh look I’ve got a Centurion sleeping on my kitchen table’.

      If revolts were expanded to centre around a region or couple of cities acting in unison, perhaps around a political faction they would be more compelling to deal with. In other words, less of them but more serious when they do occur. I always found the ‘go deal with stationary full-stack army in Alexandria’, recapture city, regarrison mechanic just felt like a chore.

      Is this handled any differently now?

    • Werthead says:

      “One person mentioned how you can’t build custom garrisons. That’s not entirely true. One big difference is that in this game EVERY army requires a general. So, to have a garrison you simply need to hire a general. Another difference is that they don’t happen via events, but instead you have a stockpile of politicians you can promote up to field commanders.”

      You can do this, but you have a finite amount of legions and field commanders you can have at the same time. It certainly does not map 1:1, so you can’t have every city garrisoned with an actual army and a general at once. A fair number of your cities you do have to leave ungarrisoned.

      For a TOTAL WAR game this feels really weird, even though the new automatic militia-raising mechanic is meant to handle it and it does seem to work by forcing you to actually put thought into protecting vulnerable cities rather than just filling them up with 20 basic and cheap spearmen each, but it does limit your command options and choices. For Rome it’s also dangerous because the enemy does mount seaborne invasions, and Italy’s peninsulaness renders it quite vulnerable to such things.

      • Bhazor says:

        Which is exactly what happened at the time.
        Rome was left completely undefended time and time again during the Republic era. Ceasar, Sulla, Marius, Pompey all marched into Rome unopposed with Rome’s armies either abroad or defeated. After Cannae Hannibal could have marched straight to Rome with the nearest Roman force hundreds of miles away in Spain. When the Visigoths besieged Rome there was nothing but retired veterans, personal body guards and citizen militia’s to hold them off.

        Rome “conquered the world in self defence” because of how hard the peninsula of Italy was to defend.

      • Feste says:

        I mentioned the garison thingy. It’s not so much a criticism as an example of the game departs from the formula in some massive ways. It’s really weird.

        I do notice that some of the generals have economic bonuses, so I wonder if the idea is to split your forces into armies on the offensive and some on the defence?

        The buildings seem pretty generous with the garrisons, certainly the buildings which unlock units. Even the economic ones often seem to add a mob or two. So even early on I’m encountering cities with a thousand odd defenders. Mostly mobs and slingers, but still enough to repel a half-hearted invasion.

        • Werthead says:

          It’s an awkward one because the goal – freeing up your offensive armies to actually go on the offensive rather than babysitting newly-conquered provinces until they stop rebelling (and in ROME II this pacifying seems to happen much more quickly than before) – is laudable. However, it feels like the game is giving you less control and less options, which I think is a step backwards.

          • Feste says:

            Exactly! Especially considering that at the moment I have three Armies, two of which are protecting my cities from invasion.

  45. mtomto says:

    I was disappointed with Rome II. I can’t put a finger on it, but I guess it’s the sum of all the little things that annoyed me.

    1. The turn times litterately made me exit the game at one point.
    2. The UI seems a bit clunky. And the artwork for the UI was also subpar. A mix of modern/glass and 2-color images seems weird.
    3. I had better FPS during battle, than in the campaign map (wtf lol?)
    4. The 3 agent types seems bloated – 2 could have been enough.

    The combination of slow turntimes and bad FPS on the campaign map is just a gamekiller for me. And my computer isn’t exactly shitty *shrug*. A few patches might help :)

    • Strangerator says:

      This pretty much sums up why I’ll be buying this likely next year, during a steam sale for 15 ish dollars. The massive turn times are a huge problem for game flow, and can totally wreck an experience. Master of Orion 3 I recall being a particularly horrid offender, though that game stank for many other reasons as well.

      I think CA have provided an excellent foundation for a game, but it is going to take some patching and some modding to get it into a state where it feels just right.

      Thankfully my gaming backlog should last me 2+ years or so, and with kickstarter games starting to be completed (Wasteland 2??) that playlist is going to get even longer. Just starting Fallout New Vegas for the first time, with some modest mods applied, and having a blast. I doubt I’ll ever pay a full 60 bucks for a game ever again… unless it is an absolute day 1 must-have. Rome 2 could have been that game, but I’m glad I waited for reviews.

  46. JimDiGritz says:

    Can anyone out there cobble together a mod which kicks off an instance of a TW battle when armies engage in CK2?

    Not much to ask, is it?

    By end of play today would be great, mkay?

    • Nate says:

      Exactly— with sufficient investment, Paradox could blow CA out of the water. While CKII isn’t perfectly designed, it is so much better (with presumably such a smaller budget) than CA’s world map– with Paradox’s success, maybe they have the budget to consider a tactical element for their games (in which the battles have always been the weak link).

      • Werthead says:

        I don’t think it’s economically worthwhile for them to do it. The TOTAL WAR games are designed to be 50-50 between the two, whilst Paradox’s games often allow you to win without ever firing an arrow through diplomacy, dyanastic expansion etc. In Paradox games I often feel like war is something you should be avoiding, and the way those games work is more realistic. In MEDIEVAL II England can militarily conquer the entirety of Europe, North Africa, the Middle-East and the Americas. In real history this was completely impossible, and so it is in Paradox’s games as the same economic and demographic issues that prevented that are reflected in them.

        Or, more to the point, in a Paradox game you’ll see far less battles than in a TW game, and quite possibly none at all. So unless they make a war-focused game, it’s not economical to do it.

  47. sonson says:

    Just dropped by to say that there are two new victory conditions, economic and cultural, which is a total first. I’m baffled that that has warranted virtually no mention. There’s really quite a but of new stuff. I don’t understand people talking about getting bored turn by turn when there’s a lot more to do and three distinct paths to take to win. I’m increasingly of the mind that a lot of people are playing it as a traditional TW rather than what it is, and that’s why there’s a disconnect.

    • Feste says:

      I spotted those, but I’ve not investigated the ultimate aims as I’m still mired in the early game. I do like the mini-objectives, they give you a little structure to aim for. I think I’d be more enthusiastic about the changes if the game ran better. It chugs on my machine and being able to go down stairs to make a cuppa during the AI turn is a little much.

      Certainly for me I think you nailed it, at the moment it’s a feeling of disconnect rather than dislike. A lot has changed and I’m still digesting my opinion on it. It’s not necessarily bad (other than some specific technical problems), but it’s different enough that it’s hard to judge.

  48. tehsorrow says:

    I’m loving this game so far technical issues aside and Empire was my favourite Total War since Rome 1. So I guess I’m a freak? It’s a bummer that some of you guys aren’t having fun though. The way it’s reviewing hardly seems to paint it as the trainwreck presented here though

  49. guygodbois00 says:

    “Or perhaps an old friend, who talks a good talk, but has become portly and eccentrically attired. You have heard his stories many times, and the embellishments over time make their more lurid, even if the basic story remains the same. God, I love metaphors. Being a writer is awesome.” And you, gentlemen, are both awesome writers. Unfortunately, I am not, but I would use this opportunity to invite other members to further develop (Word)Smith’s most excellent metaphor. I’m especially hoping to read Lord Smingleigh’s opinion on this. Also, I’m afraid I am that portly and eccentrically attired old friend, to my poor compatriots, at least.

  50. mariandavid says:

    Interesting: The very first time that I have totally disagreed with a Wot I think (except for the obvious reference to patching). Not only disagree, but left baffled as if the reviewers and I were playing a totally different game. All that I can imagine is that I approach the game with a different purpose to them – as an enjoyable evocation of an interesting past that is not deluged with data as in Paradox or one which simplifies battles as does AGEOD. I though it to be satisfactory at the least, and with suitable patching and modding, comparable to the best of its predecessors.

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