The strategy genre is a genre that has seen a lot of growth this year, and now Creative Assembly’s highly anticipated Total War: Rome II has been released into the mix. The Total War games are known for having a more realistic feel to them, with each individual “unit” consisting of an entire brigade. The Total War games have a more historic setting than most other RTSes, giving them a unique and specialized niche. This subjects the Total War series of games to a much higher level of scrutiny. With Rome Total War being one of the most critically acclaimed titles in the series, Total War: Rome II has a lot of hype to live up to. Does Creative Assembly reach expectations, or is Total War: Rome II another disappointment in the genre?
Aesthetics is the category that Total War: Rome II excels in. The audio is quite high quality, with enough variety when selecting and moving units to not be annoying. Visually, Rome II is also quite appealing. The level of detail is surprisingly high, given the huge amount of character models per unit. Unfortunately, Rome II does not escape this category without any negative marks. Rome II suffers from one of the most crippling issues possible: horrible optimization. Most games with optimization issues tend to show only on mid to lower end machines. Rome II’s issues show on all ranges of PCs. The game is performs poorly on all but top of the line machines, with the game being borderline unplayable on mid and lower end machines. In response to these issues, Creative Assembly released a patch just days after release. This patch alleviated some of the issues, but did not solve the problem. This is a huge problem, especially in a game with a huge number of units on the screen.
The gameplay in Total War: Rome II is split into two different elements: a Turn Based Strategy element and a Real Time Strategy element. With the unit building taking place off the of the battlefield, the Turn Based Strategy segment replaces much of the macro-management of the genre. When picking a game that has enormous battles with several different layers of strategy, the prospect of having another area to develop strategies seems like a great idea. However Rome II’s Turn Based section does not play out like a great idea. It plays a lot like the classic Turn Based Strategy series Civilization, though very watered down. Overall, these sections feel as though they’re there to break up the real game.
At it’s core, Rome II’s RTS gameplay is very deep and complex. With many different formations and angles from which to attack from, there are a lot of different ways a single engagement can play out based on the player’s strategy and tactics. This makes each battle a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the same holds true for the AI; and the AI is not particularly advanced. Even on the hardest difficulty, seasoned RTS players will breeze through the game without much trouble. This is another strike against Rome II as RTS players love being challenged.
With several different campaigns to choose from, a skirmish mode and a multiplayer mode there is a lot of content to be had in Total War: Rome II. Creative Assembly has also already released DLC adding several new factions to choose from with more in development already. For those who can run the game well, and don’t mind the lack of difficulty; Rome II will have a long lifespan.
Aesthetically, Total War: Rome II hits the mark. The visuals and audio are both very high caliber. Rome II does suffer from huge optimization issues, making the overall experience much less enjoyable. The real time strategy aspect of Rome II is quite enjoyable and incredibly in-depth. Unfortunately, the turn based strategy feels very slow and at the end of the day, isn’t very enjoyable. For those who can get past these issues, there is a lot of fun to be had with more in development. All in all, Total War: Rome II is a relatively good game with huge issues weighing it down. The success of Total War: Rome II is all up to how Creative Assembly support the title moving forward.