September 13, 2013
Total War: Rome 2 Review
Mastering real-time strategy games is no small feat. Often times we’re given far too much privilege and not enough restriction in the way we approach strategy. Supreme Commander allows you to control thousands of individual, yet it doesn’t shed much light on the conditions of worldly economy in that era. Halo Wars does a great job of reviving the franchise into a new category of games, yet it doesn’t give us any more than the footnote of more senseless killing. Even worse, most of the games that you find dealing with strategy and war allow you to finish the campaign far too fast. To really understand the struggles and hardships of a nation’s rise to power, you have to understand why the nation needs to expand. The first three hours of playtime on the campaign gave me quite the lesson on this matter.
Much has changed since we last saw The Creative Assembly’s last installment Shogun 2 hit PC, and because of that, I had to learn Total War all over again. This wasn’t as painful as you might think since the UI of the game is far more helpful in understanding why you probably got your ass kicked in Shogun 2. Instead, I found myself relearning things that I didn’t spend enough time studying in previous entries.
For example, each faction in the game has a culture and a set of customs for their nation to abide by. These cultures naturally conflict with numerous factions from around the word. Because of that, a nation’s culture ties directly to the diplomacy of maintaining your faction. This also means that making friends and enemies in Rome 2 now feels a lot more immersive. Unfortunately, this also means that the game now feels far easier than it should be. Bumping the difficulty up a few notches isn’t helping either, since the game is suffering some serious AI issues at the current moment.
The culture of your nation is based mostly on your regional location on the map-between the Hellenistic, Barbarian, Eastern, and Roman factions; you’ll be able to battle it out with 117 factions, including the Celtic Confederation, Sparta, and even Athens. Each of these factions feels different from the others, which should help to cope with the game’s low playable faction count (Only 12, for now).
Playing from the Roman perspective, I understood a lot about regional advantages and economic victories. What counts as a victory to most players is virtually a complete military domination over the other factions. In Rome 2, this just isn’t possible, and it’s probably because of the economy. Most will tell you that the Total War series has a reputation of giving players a challenge in maintaining a nation, and Rome 2 is no exception.
Because of this slick new interface, I now understand all the things about economy that I never could comprehend with Shogun 2. The map has been split up into settlements and regions with clusters of provinces connecting to a central economic capital, so to speak. This means that while the management of these areas is simpler, they haven’t completely lost their worth. Instead, the bigger picture here is to conquer the provinces that make up a settlement so that you can maximize the economic and military benefits of their resources.
More on this review in the future!
Image Credit: Sega