It's a shame that the promotional machinery of video games moves so rapidly these days, because it would have been Just Plain Charming had Sega been able to announce this Total War: Rome II campaign expansion two hundred and eighty-nine days ago.
Then again, it would have wildly inaccurate to do so because Wrath of Sparta is set about sixty years after some well-oiled Greeks with CGI torsos fought off thirty million Persians , and as we all know video games rarely play fast and loose with historical facts.
This time around The Creative Assembly are focusing on the Peloponnesian War, which - gags aside - is a really fascinating historical period. It pretty much marked the end of the golden age of Greece, seeing an increasingly greedy imperial Athens entering into full-scale war with Sparta and the other remaining independent Greek city-states. Greek military tactics shifted away from a somewhat ritualised form and toward full-scale war, leaving entire cities devastated. It was, in short, a horrible period of history, and is therefore perfect for a Total War game.
The expansion's campaign is set on a new map that spans all of Greece and parts of Asia Minor, and it's really rather lovely looking - as you'd expect for anything built around the Aegean Sea, eh? Supposedly there will be wonders dotted about the map, no doubt including the Colossus of Rhodes, the Temple of Artemis and... actually, I can't think of any others. Clearly all that time spent playing Civilization wasn't quite the same as reading history books after all. More importantly, we're also promised new tech and skill trees, new army and navy legacies, new buildings and, of course, new units.
The only thing I'm not quite sure of is why Wrath of Sparta is an expansion pack for Total War: Rome II, given that it concerns itself with a different historical period and a different empire in a different country. It's hard to argue with it as a piece of affordable DLC rather than a pricey new Total War game, though, and if you close one eye and squint a bit there are enough similarities between the Greek Hoplite Phalanx and the Roman Legion that it makes a kind of sense. Plus, the Romans always did secretly want to be the ancient Greeks. They even wrote "we're Greek, really" fan fiction.
Total War: Rome II - Wrath of Sparta will be released on December 17th, priced at £9.99.
There's a little more info to be found in this latest episode of the Total War Rally Point video series, including the suggestion that if you manage to unite Greece you can go off and duff up the Persians. Rally Point also has some titbits on the forthcoming Total War: Attila. And more jokes about The 300. Sorry!