Rome: Total War Review (PC)

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The days of the Roman Republic were both heroic and tumultuous. During this time, Rome grew from one obscure city into the world power of the ancient world. But Rome wasn't alone in that world, there were many civilizations, some considerably older, who stood in the way of the men of the tiber. Greece, Egypt, Carthage, the Gauls, and many barbarians just to name a few. Rome overcame all comers in the days of the Republic, to emerge as the leader of the ancient world, and in Rome:Total War, you can also do the same.

This is the third and finest instalment of the Total War brand name, and greatly improves on previous games. At first, you can only play as one of three Roman families, but as you defeat others, you 'unlock' those civilizations for usage (This hint came from my friend Brother Mush of the Dynaverse). The game is epic in scope, and tactical in detail. You develop your cities and towns via the familiar civilization-like way, each costing a certain amount of gold, and time to build. The size of the towns determine what you build in them, and there are detailed discriptions of what the buildings function as. The amount of detail here is wonderful, as each civilization has its own buildings, leaders, and military units.

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On the strategic map, you manage your cities, and as a Roman, the senate will assign you missions, which will earn you fame and gold. But if you fail, you earn the senate's displeasure, and they may well shut you out from positions of power, and fine you money. As your fame grows, your power in the senate will increase, and when the plebs love you, you will be invited to take over the Roman world, which you do by taking on the other Roman factions and the senate, which is also a faction. Your leader and generals can earn fame, gain abilities in battle, and will age and die over time. One of the more amusing aspects is taking a relative nobody, winning battles, and watch him become a latter day Ceasar, the game may even give him a knickname, like 'the mighty' and several others. The map is de vided into areas, and you can improve movement and trade in them by improving roads. Their is one settlement, town or city in each province. The map shows that some provinces have special trade items, as well as gold or silver mines.

The game includes a full diplomatic model, complete with diplomats who can make deals, bribe others, and age and die like generals. You also have available spies, and since the map is dark in areas you have no units in, spies can map out terrain and whom controls areas very easily. Diplomats can also do this, but their line of sight is far less. Spies can also observe the make-up of enemy armies, investigate cities, even enter them and open the gates for you in battle!

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Trade is handled in an abstract manner. You must first, using a diplomat, secure trade rights with another power. Once done, you need a port to ship goods. As you improve your port, you will add more trade routes to it. As you play, you will see the routes as dotted lines, with merchant ships sailing them. You will also see trade goods being moved overland to ports by caravans, so you will know if trade is flourishing. Ports can be blockaded by you and your enemies, so having a navy is important if you want to keep trade open. Money is critical in this game, and trade gives you a lot of cash. As cities grow in the game, they actually start to lose money, and if you try being cheap and not lowering taxes and buying improvements, they will rebel and kick you out, establishing a free city that you will have to retake.

The combat system is what truly makes this game special. Unlike other games that feature strategic combat, this game has two options, quick resolution, and detailed battles. The quick way will simply tell you who won, and list the dead. But the battles are something else entirely. In these, you are transported to a 3 dimensional battlefield, where you can zoom in and look over your army from all angles. you can set the formation, deploy and command units, carry out elaborate attacks and defenses, assault cities and towns with seige engines, ect. In fact, this could be considered a game in itself, as historical battles are included, and more can be added. Your animated soldiers will listen to your general make a speech before battle, that even includes tactical advice sometimes. The traits of your Roman general are reflected in the speech, I had one with doubtful courage, and he made excuses about staying out of danger! Once the battle is joined, special units can throw javelins, shoot arrows, form testudo, form a phalanx, circle the enemy firing arrows, all kinds of things depending on the unit. Once one side breaks, and you will actually see it, they will attempt to run off, just as it happened in history. Here, your cavalry can ride down the enemy, resulting in fearful slaughter.

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Like the leaders, combat formations gain experience in battle, and can be brought up to strength after battles. Experienced troops become extremely difficult to defeat. The make up of your forces can actually play a large part in battle, a good mix of troops can often defeat numerically superior forces. Also, the game shows the effects of rear and side attacks in battle, units will route and die much faster if attacked this way. Your general is also present in the fight, surrounded by his mounted body guard. He can be killed, so use him wisely.

The sound quality in this game is outstanding, with good voice overs. The different factions have their own movies, voices, and music. The movies are done quite well, and the battles can actually seem like watching a movie. The interface is smooth and very easy to use, and the game includes a learning campaign to help you understand what to do. It also includes advisors whom you can ask advice of, and complete explanations of what every combat unit, leader and building and ship is.

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Overall, this is an excellent effort, and really does live up to the advanced hype, It also includes full multi player options, so you can battle others for control of the Roman world. This game is turn based, but the battles are in real time, so it gives a little bit to everyone. So, if you love history, and want a fun and involving empire builder, Rome Total war is the game for you.


By Call_of_duty_4_life (SI Newbie) on Jan 09, 2009
Cool game I think its better from Medieval 2 total war cuz the factions are cooler.I will make Rome a glorius empire........