April 28, 2013
Total War: Rome 2 – Tactics Of Teutoburg Forest
It’s simply glorious. Even with game play that is far from the competition process, the visuals of Teutoburg look stunning. Those visuals come at the cost of years of development since the release of Shogun 2, and subsequently a newer graphics engine. Teutoburg was modeled after the historical battle of the same name which took place in the year 9 A.D. with the Roman Legion surrounded on nearly all fronts in the deep dense Teutoburg Forest.
We are controlling the Roman Legion. Some of these soldiers are decorated with golden and red armor pieces, while others have masks designed to resemble tigers and lions. As poetic as this seems, each soldier is about as courageous as the next, which isn’t saying much, given their current predicament. That predicament quickly evolves into a catastrophe as we understand that this Roman Legion is not only leading an army of men through a passage way in this forest, but they are also placed perfectly in the center of an ambush.
You’d have never seen it, lest Creative Assembly pointed it out.
From the very beginning we can already see groups of soldiers decorated in vicious green paint hiding quietly behind trees and large rocks. They are as silent as the wind on the tress leaves, and most of them could be spotted without looking too hard at the screen. Before we know it, these forces roll out dung heaps of flaming balls at our troops.
The tactics of units are about as fluid and smooth as they’ve ever been, with each individual moving into their own direction with no lag or choppy motion. In Shogun 2 players were plagued with very blocky and awkward melee battles that often left them disappointed. The game looks like an HD remake of the original Rome Total War design placed on top of it.
Ultimately, the purpose of this demo is to showcase the genius and fluidity of the game’s strategy elements, a concern that most players will worry about when Rome 2 releases later this year. I myself have wondered about exactly how the game will be much of an improvement on Shogun 2, which has already allowed me to play 20,000 man custom battles. Ideally speaking, I need a game that will do a little more than allow me to craft my own battles. Will the game challenge me without cheating?
I’d like to imagine that Creative Assembly will avoid cheating AI this time around, but sadly, this was not elaborated on in the demo.
The user interface is simply beautiful; even with elements of the display that are very behind compared to its predecessors, just seeing the colors and design of a Roman display will send jitters down your spine. This display will only get better and more refined as time goes by, but what’s most impressive about troop and player interaction revolves around two very noticeable additions to the game.
The first addition is a close-up camera view that allows the player to lock their camera position onto a single unit of troops as they charge or even stand still on the battlefield. This camera feature will allow you to immerse yourself in the combat of a Total War game the way you’d never have been able to do. This camera remains steady and has a minimal amount of vibration, also allowing you to pan left and right on a fixed position for full 360 degree viewing.
The second addition is with the tactical view of the map camera, which will give you an eagle eye perspective of the battle from at least 200 feet in the air. Before this, players needed to rely on mods to see an army from a high distance, and even then, the mod was never an eagle eye. This view allows a much better opportunity and array of options for players to plan out their movements with ambushes such as this. With that being said, I can move on to the units.
In shorter terms, more specifically than calling them incredible, they move faster with a greater sense of purpose on the battlefield. I had a serious issue with archers in Shogun 2 stopping in the middle of a battle for god knows what only to be thrashed by No-Dachi Samurai. The AI in Rome 2 seems to be much quicker and more refined to keep the depth of the battlefield going off without a hitch. Of course, this is also apparent with the archers, who have much quicker reflexes and release times between drawing an arrow and firing at a squad.
The creators of the game moved on towards the middle of the video with some specifics on the mechanics of the games strategy elements. Although, in all honesty, this entire demo felt scripted, being that it was a historical battle from the game. If anything, this simply proves that Creative Assembly spent a good amount of time setting the locations and motives of each squad for a specific purpose that the player must adhere to. This is the purpose of a historical battle.
Such was apparent when I got towards the end of the video to watch the final moments of the fight. Ultimately, the player has already lost a large chunk of his army at this point due to at least six different ambushes from German soldiers. The final presentation is a full sprint of three squads of infantry to break enemy lines and make a run for the border of the map.
Despite my disappointment at the demo’s lack of an explanation on the campaign elements, I think that many fans will take a lot of comfort in innovations introduced into the game. Apart from much better AI, and they are much better, Rome 2 looks to build upon its predecessors UI elements with better display features to help players both strategize and immerse themselves in the game.
You’re doing good, Creative Assembly!
Image Credit: Creative Assembly