Game Review: Rome 2 Total War
The Total War Series is developed by Creative Assembly, Sega, Activision, and EA. It is one of the most in depth turn based strategy games on the market and can immerse you into the Age of Rome like never before.
The game itself is built around two main aspects, It gives you a turn based strategy and empire building aspect, similar to the Civilization series. This is merely a comparison on empire building, the tools, techniques, graphics, and building options in Rome II is unique, even compared to previous Total War games. Total war has fixed cities and regions and offers less for city customization and academic development (tech tree). Although, earlier games in the Total War Series didn't have a tech tree, and is a new concept that is improving the game since its debut in Empire: Total War.
The second is, the battle map. This brings in a real time strategy (RTS) concept to the map. This is where you control your armies as your fighting in the forests and plains of Gaul, storming the beaches of Rhodos, or besieging the walls of Carthage. You can compare this to any other RTS game, like Age of Empires, but it doesn't do it justice. The tactics used make the battles much more complex than any other game of it's kind. For instance, Rather than having a handful of men representing your army, you can lead hundreds or even thousands of individual soldiers into battle.
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First, if you've played the original Rome: Total War, you'll want to know what's new.
-More historically accurate Factions. Some factions don't exist in Rome 2, because they weren't known as that in the time of Rome. Among the changes:
-Greek cities: Broken down into multiple city state factions, Epirus, Sparta, and Athens are playable with the Greek Cultures DLC
-Britons: Now known as the Iceni, one of a few Briton tribes found on the islands.
-Gauls: Now a collection of different tribes such as the Arverni and Halvetti. The Arverni are playable.
-Germanics: Again, a collection of smaller tribes based in the region of modern Germany. The Suebi are the playable faction.
-Nomadic Tribes: Available through the Nomadic Tribes Culture Pack DLC. This contains the Roxolani, the Massagetae, and the Royal Scythians.
-Plus several non-playable factions have changed to more historically accurate names and territories.
-Nearly all of the regions have been renamed to more historically accurate names, even Rome herself has changed to it's Latin name, Roma.
-New Region set up: Each Province is broken down into 2-4 individual regions, with one being the capital. The capital can support more buildings and is the only city in the region with walls.
-Tech Tree: You now have the option to discover new technologies to advance your people to greatness. These include techs that effect your economic and military development.
-New Diplomatic options: One of my favorite upgrades, the AI is far more intelligent than in the original game, which allows for a more reliable diplomatic function. It takes into account not just your strength vs theirs, but also economic power and other threats in the region (when forming alliances or confederations).
-New battle options: You can now place defensive measures, such as barriers, on the map during defensive battles and put artillery on the walls during defensive sieges.
-Better graphics: This is an obvious upgrade, it's a new game engine. One of the things I like is that they can be turned down to the level of the original for older systems.
There are currently 9 playable factions with the game itself and 8 more with DLC. There are also 3 new playable factions in the Caesar in Gaul campaign and 3 in the Hannibal at the Gates campaign.
Giving you 23 different playable factions, through 3 campaigns (not including the tutorial).
-There are many non playable factions in Rome 2, this has replaced the rebel factions from the previous version, making all regions on the map controlled by at least a lesser faction at the start of the game. This is a great benefit because it allows you to ally yourself to, trade with, or manipulate factions all over the map.
The central faction in the game, and the one most will start off with. It benefits from an advanced military, strong economy, and central location on the map. It is divided into 3 families: The Cornelia, the Junia, and the Julia, each with their own perks.
Located in northern Africa, this is one of the main contenders for Rome. It shares an opportune location near Rome. Their elite units are the Sacred Band, a group of Carthaginian citizens, and war elephants.
-Syracuse (Hannibal at the Gates DLC only)
Caught between the two great states is the Greek city of Syracuse. It's included here because of it's central location and strong historical ties to the Roman Republic. Similar to the other Greek states below. Syracuse forces consist of heavy hoplite and phalanx infantry.
A remnant of the empire that Alexander the Great built and died for. Only a fraction of it's former glory, this faction starts out with two cities in the northern reaches of Greece, Pella, the capital of Macedonia, and Pulpudiva, a minor city in Thracia. The faction derives it's power the same way Alexander did, through use of spear infantry and heavy cavalry.
It's a shame they didn't update the name but they did keep it a powerful faction to deal with. This faction has the benefit of starting with 6 cities, including one entire province. The strength of Egypt derives from it's hellenistic rulers and it's native people. This gives Egypt the strength of spear infantry, decent swords, and powerful chariots and elephants.
Similar to the other Successor states, Selucia's armies consist of heavy Phalanx and Cavalry. It's strong position extends from Asia Minor in the East to The Persian Gulf in the west. It's primary advantage comes from it's people, not it's arms though. Due to its multicultural population, It's effected less by the presence of foreign cultures, although it does not tolerate slavery as well as others.
The furthest eastern Successor Kingdom, Baktria was originally a satrapy (partially independent province) of the Selucid empire. It eventually gained it's independence to emerge as a force of it's own. Placed in the farthest reaches of the known world, it is a vital territory for trade and commerce. As such it gains a bonus for commerce and industry. Furthermore, it's unique infantry, a mix of eastern and Hellenistic heritage, stands well against other Hellenistic armies. Although, it does face the threat of nomadic tribes to the north.
Famed for the 300 that stood at Thermopylae, Sparta is located in the southern Greek province of hellas. It is only a minor city but supports an advanced warrior culture centered around it's hoplites. Spartan soldiers are more efficient in battle but it's economy suffers from its militaristic nature.
The city of Athenai is located in Hellas, north east of Sparta. It's people have provided support against the Persians, Spartans, and Macedonians. Now they stand independent once more and following the defeat of the Persian armies at the oars of their ships, they provide among the best navies in Rome 2. Their free thinking culture also provides scientific benefits.
Pyrrhus of Epirus was the Greek general that gave us the term Pyrrhic victory. It means to win the battle but take such losses that you can no longer win the war. These Greeks had fled from southern Italy and returned to their homes in Larissa and Apollonia on the western shores of the province of Macedon. They receive benefits to the effects from their generals.
The Northern Tribes
The Rome 2 equivalent of the Britons. These people are located on the British Isles and start off with the city Camulodunon, the capital of Britannia. They are woad warriors of the north and are strong fighters, they get unique units, such as scythed chariots.
This Germanic tribe is based around Lupfurdum in the northern Germanic province of Suebia. From their provincial capital, they are nearly centered in the barbaric lands of the north. Their elite troops include night hunters and berserkers.
The reinvented Gauls. The Arverni are located in central Gaul (France) and are fierce in battle. They are centered around the small city of Nemossos in the province Aquitania. Their greatest warriors are cavalry, which is due to natural ability and can be improved with the worship of the godess Epona.
-The Boii (Caesar in Gaul DLC only)
This tribe is the North-Eastern most Celtic Tribe. Located between Germanic Tribes, Sarmatians, Dacians, and with only the tribes occupying Noreia to the south sharing their culture. Their main advantages are a tribute to their agricultural lifestye (mainly livestock) and their warlike, expeditious culture. The latter gives them added moral in enemy territory.
-The Galatia (Caesar in Gaul DLC only)
This is the furthest settlement of Celtic Tribes known. These men and women left their homeland to embark on a journey to Asia Minor. Their location in the middle of the Anatolian Peninsula surrounds them by heavy hitters, such as the Selucids, Armenians, Pontus, and the Greek States. The last of those, the Hellenistic Greeks, share a cultural affinity with the Galatian Tribe. This allows for better diplomacy options, Furthermore their warlike, barbarian culture allows for larger gains in the rich provinces near their home.
This is among the furthest north of the Gauls, although they share heritage with Germanic tribes as well. Situated on the southern edge of the North Sea, in what is now known as Belgium. These people are fierce warriors and are noted in history as nearly defeating Julius Caesar and his legions. They fought till a mere 500 men out of 60,000 were left standing, Giving them the reputation similar to Spartans, of the north. They receive a moral boost in friendly territory, get an advantage while ambushing, but where their military thrives, their economy sufferers. A lack of Commerce and Industry profits stifles their income.
-Arevaci (Hannibal at the Gates DLC only)
The Arevaci start with a single city in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula. Their Capital of Numantia gives them a great strategic advantage to take the Provinces of Iberia, or be conquered by their rivals. They do have a great advantage in their proud horse culture but their disadvantages outweigh this. Their hatred for rival cultures will drive public order down, only Iberians should be in Iberia.
-Lusitani (Hannibal at the Gates DLC only)
A fierce minor confederation located in modern day Portugal. Their armies are filled with some of the most savage of warriors, who (while believing in honorable death) fight till the end. Their main drawback is also this savage nature, as other cultures may not be willing to engage in diplomacy with these formidable barbarians.
Centered around the minor city of Nisa, in the Parthia Province. Located near the eastern edge of the map, this upstart nation is powered by the hooves of their cavalry. Following traditions of their region, Parthians field strong horse archers and cavalry units
This Kingdom is located on the northern shores of Anatolia (Modern Day Turkey) and control the minor cities of Sinope and Amaseia, in the Bithynia et Pontus province. This is ruled by a reformed Persian dynasty. It's pikemen and scythed chariots form the backbone of it's armies.
The campaign map is the overall strategy of the game. This is where you move your armies, spies, champions, and dignitaries around the map. You also update your cities, select technologies, enter the wiki, diplomacy, and faction screens.
I'll go more in depth with this later but you will get a hang of the movement controls after playing the prologue campaign.
The more advanced stuff comes in as you visit each additional screens and menus.
If you click on a city you will see:
-Province Edicts: This menu gives you the option of initiating a edict after controlling an entire province. Depending on your faction and decision, it can have a variety of effects.
-Raise Army: Gives you the option to hire a new general from a group of 3-4 options. Choosing a general should be based on attributes, shown in the bottom left of the screen, and political effect.
-Recruit Agent: Gives you the chance to hire a spy, champion, or dignitary to due your bidding on the map.
-Faction: Gives a variety of details on your faction and people, including political standing, objectives, and overall summary.
If you click on an army:
Recruit Soldiers: This is pretty obvious in it's function, you click on the troops you wish to train, you can train up to 3 units per turn.
Hire Mercenaries: This is where you can hire mercenaries that are available in the local province. These units are good for a tight bind but can do a lot of damage to your finances.
The rest to come...
In Rome 2 there are 19 wonders of the world that include the original world wonders plus various natural and man made wonders from around the map. Each has it's own effect, which can only be viewed once you control the region. I'll fill this in as I capture more wonders.
I've set up links to Wikipedia pages about each individual monument in case you're not sure what it is.
The Six of the Seven Wonders of the World
-Olympia: Sparta, Hellas
-Provides +3 wealth from culture buildings(Factionwide), Bread and games edict: +6 public order(Factionwide)
-Colossus of Rhodes: Rhodos, Asia
-Provides +2% wealth from trade(Factionwide), +1 ship recruitment slot(Factionwide)
-Mausoleum of Mausolus: Ephesus, Asia
-Pharos of Alexandria: Alexandria, Aegyptus
-Provides +20 Line of sight(All fleets), +5% wealth from maritime commerce buildings(Factionwide)
-Necropolis of Giza: Memphis, Aegyptus
-Provides -3% construction costs(Factionwide), +2% wealth from culture buildings(Factionwide)
-Babylon: Seleucia, Mesopotamia
-Provides +3% civil research rate (factionwide); +2 growth per turn (factionwide)
-Stonehenge: Iska, Britannia
-Provides +3% Civil research rate(Factionwide),-20% public order penalties due to local presence of foreign cultures(Factionwide)
-Pillars of Hercules: Gadira, Baetica
-Mount Etna: Syracuse, Magna Graecia
-Provides +3% armor for all units(all armies and ships), +2% wealth from agriculture and livestock buildings(Factionwide)
-Sanctuary of the Great Gods: Pulpudeva, Thracia
-Provides +2 Growth per turn(Factionwide), Spreads owning factions culture: +3 Influence(Factionwide)
-Bam Citadel: Bam, Carmania
-Provides 10% attritional losses when under siege (all armies), +2 siege hold-out time (all armies)
-Mount Behistun: Ekbatana, Media Magna
-Provides +3% military research rate (factionwide), -20% resistance to foreign occupation (factionwide)
-Mount Damavand: Zadrakarta, Parthia
-Provides +2 public order (factionwide), +5% missile attack range for all archers(all armies and fleets)
-Necropolis of Rostam: Persepolis, Persis
-Provides +3% morale for all units (all armies), -3% land recruitment cost (all armies)
-Oracle of Amun: Ammonium, Libya
-Provides +2 public order per turn(Factionwide), -20% resistance to foreign occupation(Factionwide)
-Mount Vesuvius: Neapois, Italia
-Provides +3% morale for all units(All armies and fleets), +2% wealth from agriculture and livestock buildings(Factionwide)
-Karnag: Namnetum, Celtica
-Provides +3% military research rate(Factionwide), +2 Growth per turn(Factionwide)
-Mount Argaeus: Mazaca, Galatia et Cappadocia
-Mount Olympus: Larissa, Macedonia
-Provides -20% public order penalties due to local presence of foreign cultures (Factionwide), Bread and games edict: +5% Wealth generated by Cultural Buildings(Factionwide)
Honestly the most entertaining piece of the game. This is where you go to settle the score with your rivals, take your next city, or defend your own.
Each individual unit from your army on the campaign map now represents dozens to hundreds of soldiers in unit formation. On the battle map, you'll get the chance, most times, to place your soldiers on the field in the location (within the yellow ring) and formation of your choosing. Once you've chosen your positioning, you may want to put down defensive measures if you can. These include fire balls, brimstone pits, and barriers. After you're all set, you can press start battle.
During the battle you can use tactics however you wish. My only advice is use common sense:
Keep cavalry away from spears and ranged weapons away from cavalry.
Controlling the strategic ground can give you the advantage. This is mainly the high ground but also includes positions to hide your troops or manmade/natural formations that you can use to protect your flank.
Try to outflank your enemy. A great example of this was done by Alexander the Great. He would use his phalanx to hold his enemy in place and then wheel his heavy cavalry around. The Phalanx became the anvil and the cavalry was the hammer.
Hold troops in reserve. Unless you have a limited number of men, keep some of your best troops in the center of your formation to the rear. If you see part of your line failing, send them in the reinforce it.
Everything else, I leave up to you.
The graphics engine is a moderate improvement over Rome Total War. It does provide more options on increasing/decreasing details and gives more accurate skins to the individual soldiers.
The biggest improvement are the cities, their unique in their own way and historically important cities, like Carthage or Rome have their own layout. This is adds a new level of gameplay because you can't get into a rut after invading the same city layout over and over again.
There is new DLC added to Rome total war including Caesar in Gaul, Hannibal at the Gates, and Emperor Edition. These three expansions change gameplay slightly but add new factions and scenarios. Because of these changes, I'll be adding a new hub to cover each of the DLCs and their changes in time.
Keep an eye here, I'll add my reviews link here when I post the hub.