by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
The interface is well laid out too, making decision easy to make. There were a few improvements made after the game was patched, such as the notification that a research into a new technology had been completed that enhanced the interface a tad more. But as it stood, all the required information was only a mouse click or two away, and tooltips displayed important details. The team at Creative Assembly have definitely made a concerted effort to make the game less unwieldy than earlier games. The civic section on the campaign map is simple to use, as is the battle mode. The difficulty only comes when deciding on the multitude of action you can take. For example, selecting which technology to research on the campaign screen or which formation to select when attacking an enemy.
From a visual standpoint, Total War: Rome 2 is amazing. Right from the opening cinematic, it is clear to see that the developers have placed a lot of effort into getting every visual detail right. Once in game, and on the campaign map, the cities and landscapes look lovely. The mountains and forests are clearly displayed, making it simple to determine strategic areas, such as choke points through the mountains. Armies move around the map with ease and it is simple to determine one faction from the next. Each of the factions has a different look and feel about them, firstly evident by the flags they hold, but then on closer inspection they contain some individualised style.
Once in battle, the visual effects come out in style. The terrain and the besieged city (if there is one) look amazing. The weather effects also add a sense of realism to the battles, with lightning and rain, fog, or simply sun glare coming off the Mediterranean Sea or other bodies of water. Not only does this look great, but it plays a part in the battle. Fog, for instance, makes it more difficult to see where the enemy is.
Units and armies are easily recognisable (once you've learned what each looks like), both with their display flag and when you zoom in closer to get a closer look at the action you can distinguish between the units from the weapons they are wielding or from the armour they are wearing. It can become a bit of a jumble when there is a huge melee filled with hundreds of warring soldiers, but that is to be expected. Once the melee is over, bodies litter the ground, displaying the brutality of war.
Audio too does a wonderful job of getting you into the game. The sounds of marching, the pounding of horses hooves as they charge towards the rear of an unsuspecting foe, the cheers as the last of the enemy flees from battle all give the game an authentic feel. The music of the horns, trumpets and battle drums just give it that extra gladiatorial feel. All of the advisers are fully voiced, as are the units in both the campaign map and the battle scenarios, meaning that you donít have to take your eyes off the battle in order to heed their advice.
I deliberately spent some extra time to review Total War: Rome 2. Not because I wanted to get further into a particular campaign, but to experience the game without the horrendous crashes that the game displayed on initial release. In those first couple of days, there could be no way that I could recommend the game despite it being an enjoyable experience when it was working and as such would have scored a 5 out of 10. Fortunately, some of the major issues seem to have been resolved and it seems that Creative Assembly have been hard at it attempting to rectify further issues. When they've sorted everything out, Total War: Rome 2 could well be regarded as the best of the series, as when the game plays as intended, the grand scale campaigns and the battles within, are a joy to experience. The simple interface belies the depth of the game as you control your chosen nation in both a civic capacity and as a general on the battlefield. The game looks wonderful and sounds great; it is just a pity that it hardly worked at all on release date.
Battles are grand. Easier to get started than previous titles, but still hard to master. Visuals are superb
Game crashes prior to patching were frustrating. Naval warfare is dull.