When Empire Divided, Total War's latest expansion, trundled into our garage, Fraser was the mechanic on duty. He walked around the chariot, kicked the wheels, took the pencil from behind his ear and made a few notes. "It's not in bad nick," he said, after some deliberation, "but it's no Warhammer."
You should read the rest of his review if you're considering buying this new expansion for Rome II. It's out now, gives the game a brand new grand campaign and loads of other gubbins, and might scratch that historic itch. But it also highlights one of the issues of a post-Warhammer world; namely, that loads of people with various pointy or clubby things don't quite match up to dragons, dinosaurs and man-eating trolls.
I haven't even caught up with Warhammer II yet and even though I prefer history to fantasy in my strategy games, I'm much more likely to go and play with the ratpack than the Romans and their many enemies. I'm more interested in the British standalone saga that's in the works than I am in another return to Rome, and I'm keen to see where Creative Assembly cast their historical eye next. But, for now, I think I'll follow Fraser's advice and kill some elves.
That said, if you are hungry for Total War and a return to reality seems like a good idea, there are plenty of positives, not least that some of the upgrades will be applied to existing copies of Rome II even if you don't buy the expansion:
"Look, we all know that Creative Assembly should pinch some ideas from Paradox when it comes to creating a compelling politics and intrigue system, or better yet, collaborate on something, but since that’s probably never going to happen, Empire Divided provides a solid, if simple, alternative. And it’s not broken this time. It’s worth noting that the Power and Politics update is a free and separate patch that you won’t need any expansions to play."
Empire Divided requires a copy of Total War: Rome II and is £11.99 via Steam.