August 31, 2013
Rome II: Total War Proves Strategy Games Live On
Throughout the 1990’s and into the new millennium, strategy games were one of the most popular genres in computer games. However, as the PC gave way to the consoles, the action games pushed strategy aside.
Back at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) (then held in Atlanta), there were more than 20 real-time strategy games that were introduced. At the 2013 E3 there were hardly any, with Electronic Arts’ update to Command & Conquer about the only thing coming close.
However, other strategy games, including the turn-based epic Civilization V from developer Firaxis and publisher Take 2 Interactive suggest that the genre still has legs.
The bigger proof may be The Creative Assembly’s upcoming Rome II: Total War, the latest in the Total War series. Rome wasn’t build in a day and this game could be one that could fill many nights, days and eat up all the free time a strategy fan might have.
The game, which will be published by Sega, will arrive on the PC in September.
While I have yet to actually play through a full game, I did have a chance to get some hands on time at E3, and spoke with the game’s developers earlier this summer. My preview interview appeared on ArmchairGeneral.com.
So, the obvious question is, what makes this game better? In a word… everything.
The Total War series, which made its debut more than a dozen years ago when it was first focused on Japanese medieval warfare, has had an interesting history. The series has been published by Electronic Arts (EA), Activision and, most recently, Sega.
It has covered the aforementioned Japan, Rome, the Middle Ages and even the 18th century and early 19th century. So, in addition to having history with publishers, the series has had a lot of history as well.
The series has always been good at combining massive real time battles with a turn-based strategy level empire building game. This has allowed for a best of both worlds type of experience.
If you’re a master strategist, an Octavian Caesar as it were, then you can plot, plan and conspire in grand strategic fashion. If you find yourself more of a Pompeii the Great or an Agrippa, then jump into the real time battles and see if you can win the day and drive the enemy from the field.
Getting back to what we can expect from this one? As noted in my preview, I’m looking forward to the combined land and sea battles, but more than that, Rome II: Total War increases the political intrigue. This isn’t just a war game, but rather promises to create the scheming that existed in the late Roman Republic.
Most people remember Julius Caesar (grand uncle to the aforementioned Octavian) for his conquest, but let’s not forget he was assassinated on the steps of the Roman Senate because Octavian neither forgot nor forgave. The key plotters met their demise on the battlefield and elsewhere.
No, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took years for Octavian, and later Augustus, to consolidate power and transform the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. This upcoming game welcomes that ambition, but it also suggests that game developers and publishers should realize there is a market for strategy games.
Yes, there were 20+ RTS games at E3 in 1997 and most weren’t memorable. In fact, I’m hard pressed to remember few besides the epic Age of Empires, a game that eventually spawned two excellent sequels and numerous add-ons throughout the series.
Perhaps if game developers and publishers considered this fact, we’d have some games giving Rome II: Total War competition in the strategy genre. This one would still likely win, but wouldn’t it be more fun with some competition?
Image Credit: Creative Assembly / Sega