Rome II Total War: Early Thoughts

I’m not sure how many of my followers are British, and those that are might not remember a television show called Time Commanders, which aired from 2003-2005. It was on the BBC, and contestants were generals in historical battles as they controlled an army. The game the show used was Rome Total War.

This game show didn’t spark, but reinforced my love for Roman/Medieval history, and I just had to have this game. When I got it, it blew my mind, I must have played the campaign for two days straight with no sleep.

It was simple, it was fun. It had a complexity I hasn’t encountered before, but the more you played it, the more simple it was. There were a lot of options, but it was still simple. The game and campaign mast were vast and three dimensional, but the game ran smoothly. Troops were easily identifiable, and the buildings were clear to make.

I think the simplicity was what made it so fun. I then moved on to Medieval II Total War, which was fun, but not as fun. It was still simple, but they tried to make it more complicated and the game suffered. The Mods ended up more fun than the game.

I skipped Shogun II Total War due to a lack of funds, but my friend told me it changed a lot from Medieval II. I didn’t think much of it.

I then played Empire Total War, and wow, was I disappointed.  I understand that in the gaming community, bigger is better. Bigger world, better graphics. In theory, excellent. More options, more complicated, more strategy. I’m fine with more strategy, but the complicated campaign was just boring. Also, they don’t seem to take into account the fact that 90%+ of people who want the game don’t have state of the art, top of the range computers.

So, I pre-ordered Rome II Total War, it came, I installed (eventually, I always encounter issues with Steam). The game isn’t compatible with Mac, so I had to install it on my laptop, which is 2-3 years old. It’s got an i5 processor with 8GB RAM, but it still struggles to run it. The graphic settings had it on low quality, and I couldn’t play it like that. It was lagging already, but the writing was blurry, so I changed the screen dimensions and graphics from low to medium. Better, but a bit laggy still.

They’ve made it more complicated, which I don’t like. I played about three hours and did about thirty game turns. I’d gotten bored, and decided to take a break. Whoever’s idea it was to make the AI go through the seemingly infinite number of factions needs a clip to the lughole. It takes about 2-3 minutes to process each turn. All momentum and excitement built up in the turn is just destroyed in the wait for your next go.

But, there are things I’ve enjoyed.

The battles are fantastic. My game runs them eventually, and they are wonderful, beautiful even. Although I don’t like the new troop selection panel, the graphics, the realism, the scenery, everything is just excellent.

Also, I like the look of the campaign map. The textures and scenery are good, but I’m not sure if they make up for the laggy movement.

I love the little issues your faction can have. For example, one of my family members’ wives was kidnapped. I had the choice of pay ransom, do nothing, send troops. I chose pay ransom. But, next turn, I got a message saying she was a talented warrior and killed the captors herself, and made her way home. Another example is that a family member had pulled a mystical sword from a stone. I had the choice of worship him, kill him or do nothing. I did nothing. Next turn, I got a message saying he was a fraud and people murdered him for it. These just made me smile and gave a new dimension.

Plus, I like how you can upgrade generals. It is about the simplest thing you can do!

Also, I like the thought of technologies, but it just feels like a more complicated Sid Meier’s Civilisation V (which happens to be extremely fun and interesting due to its simplicity).

After a few attempts, I got used to the new campaign battles and how you position your reinforcements, but it was weird. Made unnecessarily complicated.

Overall, I’ve been left a bit disappointed, Rome II Total War just doesn’t fill me with the excitement and wonder Rome Total War did. For me, simplicity and speed of gameplay make for a more fun game than all the graphics and options in the world which make for slower gameplay.

When I’ve played the game a bit more, I will update my thoughts. Hopefully I will feel better about it soon…

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