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Total War: Rome II

By Bis18marck7002-09-2013
Bobfish (editor)
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Total War: Rome II

The Defence

Creative Assembly
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD equivalent
4 GB
35 GB
9.0c, 11

The Case

It’s been a long time since Total War: Rome. The third instalment of the Total War series was the one that really got the franchise going. Excellent reviews, good graphics for the time and enough depth to keep even the Paradox crowd occupied for some time. It was a game that took hours out of our lives, as we conquered Rome, Carthage, Macedon or Egypt. With a few mods, the game is still alive even to this day. The Total Realism mod, greatly changing the game to something a little more historically accurate for the obsessed like me. Now, after many years, Rome returns. Has our wait been rewarded?

The Trial

’Get back into formation, Fabius, or do you want to die alone, you useless pleb? Quintus, hold the eagle high, I want these barbarians to see us. Hold the formation, men. Trust the Emperor and trust your sword. By Mars, this will be a good day’.

Romans loved raising their fist.

Romans loved raising their fist.

And with that, the battle commenced. The unwashed savages of the northern hills crash into the line of Hastati, hacking at the formation. But true Romans do not break easily. The line holds and to the rear, battle-hardened principes draw closer to the fight, ready to be unleashed to drive the scum back to whence they came. A few minutes later, the moment to strike arrives. The enemy skirmishers have been chased off by the auxiliary and now the Hastati can be relieved. The veterans of the Legio II Apollinaris march forward, drive themselves into a run and just meters before the unsuspecting Gauls that await the charge, they release a devastating hail of pila - shocking the enemy formation before storming deep into the disorientated barbarians, slaying them left and right. And with that, Ladies and Gentleman, Rome stands supreme once more.

It’s the promise that needs to be fulfilled with each Total War game, epic battles and a solid management system off of the battlefield. Without these two working in harmony, the game is no more what it should be and we saw some of the problems associated with that in Total War: Empire. Compared to the later Napoleon: Total War, which was something of a redemption for The Creative Assembly, it was probably the weakest title of the whole series. With Total War: Rome II, the developers took some risks (if one can call them that); they slimmed down some aspects of the game while adding depth to others. In many ways, the game is built more upon Shogun II than on the older Rome title, when it comes to the management of your empire and cities.



Indeed, it is here that we will find the first major change in the game. While in the previous Rome, each city was essentially a province by itself, this is not so in Rome II. Now, up to four different cities with the territory surrounding it make up for one province. With one city being the capital of the province, it has access to the most building options and strongest city defenses. You’ll still need to conquer the remaining territories to be in full control. These will then give access to several province edicts that can boost public order (which is now measured province wide) or the economy. It is a welcome change as it is not only an attempt to make this Rome distinct from the other, but it also proves to be an effective system. Placing strategic importance on key points of the map as well as giving you the option to deter an enemy by capturing his hinterland in order to cripple his capabilities.

How you manage your provinces will have a profound impact on the game. You can no longer construct every building available to your nation in every one of your cities. You’ll need to think how to develop your land best to meet the military and economic needs of your nations. A nice feature here is that cities will visibly grow on the campaign map, giving a little bit of feedback on their importance to you and your jealous neighbours. Managing your empire, you’ll find yourself questioning which kind of temple you should build or whether a city should be developed with the military in mind even though it is in a quasi-peaceful area, just so that it gives you the option to quickly build up reserves. As well as that, you’ll need to keep constant watch on your food supply because an army without grub will not fight as well and a populace without their bread will quickly put you to the torch. All in all, the new province system takes some getting used to and will strike Rome fanatics as a bit foreign. But taking the best of what they learned with Total War: Napoleon and Shogun II, The Creative Assembly managed to set up a sleek though intricate system that adds something new to the game flow.

This land shall be ours!

This land shall be ours!

Diplomacy, in itself one of the most dreaded aspects of previous Total War games, has also seen a revamp. While occasionally other nations will inexplicably cancel trade agreements and decide to act on rather bizarre lines of logic (in one of my playthroughs Egypt decided to basically declare war on all nations), the feedback on where you stand as a nation, when it comes to reputation and relationships with other nations, has vastly improved. Borrowing from Paradox, the game now adds or subtracts points from a relationship meter for each action taken between two or more nations then adds it all up to a grand-total. Cancelling trade-agreements with other nations might increase your standing with a third party and a long-standing treaty between you and another state will drastically increase the friendship between you. As well as that, cancelling various treaties will gradually lower your overall reputation, hampering future diplomacy. While all of this was essentially already present in previous Total War games, with Rome II the feedback has vastly improved and the easier to manage diplomacy map is a very welcome addition. However, in order to rule the world, diplomacy will not suffice and swords will eventually have to be drawn.

The battles, a trademark of the Total War series, have greatly improved. Not only has The Creative Assembly modelled the units more on their actual historical look (no longer do we see Hastati that clamber about armoured to the teeth like the later Legionaries) but effort has been put in to stripping down the cumbersome aspects of the first Rome and implementing new features. This effort paid off. Battles are more fluid, with the general giving his speech during the deployment phase instead of halting it. During the battle as well, the player will experience a much more responsive army. Roman soldiers will throw a devastating pila volley automatically just before their charge hits home. Should they be too close to the enemy, they’ll forsake protocol and immediately charge home. Remembering the old days in which sometimes the pilas would still be raised when the enemy was already amongst the legionaries, this is definitely a well-made system. The path-finding has been worked on too, with some minor issues still obvious (ladders during a siege attack), but many of these strike out only because of the general improvement. However, fleeing units will still run away in a comedic straight line but who cares about those cowards anyway?

Case Review

  • Sleek yet Strong: New features and a positive revamp of the Total War formula.
  • Battles: Still as glorious as ever with many new options and features.
  • Variety: Upping the game from previous titles, Rome II is the most diverse yet.
  • Battles: Line of sight and multiple targets vs. one add new considerations for generals.
  • Politics/Management: A changed format that works very well.
  • Learning curve: Adapting to the new format takes some time.
  • Battle Map: A nice feature but rarely used.
  • Internet Connection: An internet connection is required for many tutorial and guide videos, building stats, etc.
  • Tutorial Mini-campaign: Makes you ask for more both story and information wise.
Score: 4.5/5
Rome II did it again - an experience to behold!


The early years of the Total War series is a set of games that hold a dear place in my heart, and the original Rome: Total War is perhaps one of the most beloved titles of my teenage life. Being a game that I sunk countless hours into, in an effort to escape from the knowledge that I was a massive nerd. Having made peace with that side of myself, I awaited the release of Rome 2 with glee, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to once more expand the territory of the Roman Republic, before turning on the Senate and declaring myself Dictator for life. And it did not disappoint!

Having skipped every Total War game since Medieval 2, I’m not certain where a lot of the changes originally came from, but I really appreciate the change where a province is now made up of a city and multiple villages. This forces you to think harder about your strategy as the changes also serve to limit the amount of buildings you can place in a single city or village. Armies now have the ability to move across bodies of water on basic ships (my guess is that they just commandeer them from whoever is around) rather than forcing you to have a fleet if you wish to capture cities on an island - although fleets are still very useful. The enemy AI is still a bit odd on the campaign map, but I tend to forgive enemies leaving their cities open for capture.

The prologue campaign is also of interest, although it does finish just as the story is getting interesting, giving a good description of the most basic elements of the game, leaving you to figure out the rest. The graphical fidelity is serviceable - it’s prettier than the last Total War I played, but that was six years ago - but serviceable is all you really need for a grand strategy game. The sound design is superb, the music being unobtrusive yet reflective of the events occurring around you, and the shouts and war-cries resounding from the mouths of the soldiers effectively stir the blood to battle, even if it is just commanding a digital army to take a city...

Score: 5/5


I’m a big fan of Total War, but I’ve lost a bit of interest in the series as of late. Empire and Napoleon just didn’t click with me, and Shogun 2 lacked variety whilst its co-operative campaign was, and remains, borderline broken with desynchronization issues to this very day. Now, there’s finally Rome 2, here to set things straight. The foundations are mostly solid, with an expansive world map, new graphical effects and troop animations, more diversity between each faction, and so on. It has a prologue campaign that does a great job of introducing new players and veterans alike, to the many new features and changes Rome 2 brings to the table, while offering a solid narrative that you don’t often see in this series. The changes are numerous, some work well and some not so much. It might feel “wrong” to have the diplomat character removed for example, and replaced by a new diplomatic system, but in the end it only serves the game and removes unnecessary tedium. Though I hated the UI in the beginning as it felt like an unintuitive and meaningless change for the worse since previous iterations, it did grow on me. It’s not perfect, and I would prefer the more classic UI if I could get it, but it is functional.

So what’s the problem? Let’s see. At this moment, Rome 2 is nearly unplayable for a whole host of people. It has severe performance issues, even for top notch rigs whether they try to play it with all settings on Low or Extreme. The graphics look muddy, jagged and unclear compared to Shogun 2. It may be technologically superior, but Shogun 2 looks cleaner, compared to the jagged edges of Rome 2. The combat AI is possibly worse than before, and that says a lot. Seriously, just Youtube it. After hitting the “End Turn” button, you’re forced to wait an outrageously long amount of time until it’s your turn again. This problem is especially prevalent in the co-operative campaign, where you are literally forced to wait minutes every time you end your turn. You can disable “Show AI movement”, but that doesn’t help. You eventually run out of household chores to do while you wait for the turn to end, and it gets tedious fast. On top of that, the desync issues from Shogun 2 are still alive and kicking. Sooner or later, be it 5 hours in or 50, the game will desynchronise the two players, crash, and corrupt your save file.

Don’t get me wrong. Rome 2 game can also be fun. It can be tons of fun at times. After an enormous patching effort several months down the line, I’m sure Rome 2 will deserve a full 5/5. But the fact remains that it is on this day an unfinished and nearly broken game, with the bad performance, ugly visuals, abysmal AI, broken co-op play and insane load times as well as a large amount of bugs, graphical glitches, crashes and so on. Creative Assembly have promised weekly patches, the first of which is already out, but that doesn’t change the fact that Rome 2 is an unfinished game with a launch price of €55 on Steam. I, as a reviewer, cannot forgive this business practice, and nor should you.

Score: 3/5
Comments (13)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 1317

That's why we have the appeal system, Xidio.

Posts: 341

No it doesnt take 100 hours to finish a game of TW.
Took me ~20h to finish a campaign in FOTS, capturing ~80% of the land.
~30h in E:TW, capturing most of the regions in Europe.

So dont pull bullshit on me. It just seems you try to justify the purchase of the game and thus gave it a high grade in order to feel good about yourself. I cant think of a single person that enjoys the current state of the game. If you pay money for a title, you expect it to be as advertised and relatively bugfree. This game is the opposite, its like a trainwreck. Sure some of the carts are still on the track, but the locomotive isnt..

Anyway a review should be thorough and not lazy.

And YOU gave the game a god damn 5/5 i.e. its perfect, no, its far from it. It wont even be near 4.5/5 even after a year of patching and paid DLCs.

Seems you have spent not a single minute watching youtube of Rome 2, or even TWCenter or the Official forum for the game. There are soooooo many problems with the game, you should always keep such things in mind when reviewing, just because your experience was apparently ungodly good, you shouldnt give it max scores, considering gamebreaking bugs and the lot. Wouldnt surprise me if youre one of those that enjoy having a full stack fighting AI that never attack you with any more than 5-6 units per stack or you auto-resolve everything. The AI is atrocious compared to Shogun 2, Napoleon and even Rome Total War. Heck AI wont even attack you if you keep out of their range, you can kill them all using just archers if you wish, as long as you keep outside of their aggro range, its quite hilarious how bad it is. Not to mention AI camping in the middle of a town, getting killed by archers or siege. AI that run through your units to get to a flag in the middle of the map, ignoring your units. Boats that can go on land. Multiplayer that is stripped off features, and has serious desync issues with Coop, making that a broken feature. Graphics are poor, the performance is awful since its a singlethreaded game, GPU does nothing, its basicly the Arma of the RTS Genre. Even CA themselves apologized about the issues, and especially the launch week problems. They advertised the game as a game to rule them all (all being TW) and to be better in every way, bugfree (such as no more E:TW issues) and amazing visuals, but we dont get those visuals, unless were on nasa PCs, but even then it looks nowhere like the videos theyve shown, or screenshots.
Your units have superpowers and can apparently make your entire stack of units run at the speed of light.... I can handle the Morale boost like the other games, but seirously... SPEEDBOOSTS and shit? They gotta be joking.
The UI is unintuitive and you have to use the IngameWiki to find out detailed information, information we had onscreen before, and was instant. No family tree, tech tree is pretty shit, diplomacy is bonkos still. The way you build units is stupid. There is no need AT ALL to build a fleet as the FREE transport ships > BATTLE oriented ships. AI will never build a unit with more than 6. There isnt even a need to build an army as your hastati > everything.

Oh did I mention the horrendous frame issues on the campaign map? Where the fps can go as low as 5, just by highlighting a city or unit?

Posts: 207

You realize that it takes over 100 hours to finish a game of Total War usually....and all we can do is reviewers is report on the experiences that we had with the game. For the way in which I play Total War games, and from my own experiences playing them, I didn't have a lot of issues with the UI (I was able to find everything I needed), the graphics weren't that bad, and the AI was about what I expected from a Total War game.

Posts: 341

Game in its current state is nowhere near 5/5 or 4/5 its 2/5 3/5 at best.

AI is dumbed down, UI is horrendously bad, the entire game is streamlined to appeal to casual gamers, the battles last for 3-5 minutes, you have special magical abilities that makes your troops magically run superfast like 30mph and performance is awfuuuuuuul. But then again some people justify 25fps because it has "massive battles" yet Shogun 2 looks about the same if not better (more consistent) and runs much better. Not to mention desync in Coop and stripped features in the game... ALOT of features were stripped in order to rush this out on the market in order to later sell them as DLC...

And since you guys are Reviewers, you should atleast try EVERYTHING in the game and finish atleast one game. Not just rush through it, notice 0 bugs and then give a verdict.

Posts: 341

There should be a way to edit your comment :D:DDD:D:D:

Posts: 3290

@XiDiO: The [url] BB code works in messages btw. Not YouTube embedding as yet, but as least you can make 'em clickable

Posts: 233

I'm not saying that it looks better on excellent compared to Shogun 2. I am saying that on excellent, it's not as ugly as the screenshots we decided to show off.

Posts: 341

It doesnt look better in the game.. Jenssen even said on Steam that Shogun 2 looks better.

Besides I uploaded footage to youtube on Extreme, doesnt look anywhere better than Shogun 2. Yet its demanding as crazy and has texture issues unless you use the "Force VRAM" option..



Posts: 233

@XiDiO, as mentioned in the review, most screenshots were taken at 'High' quality setting (3rd highest available) to give an impression of how it will look like. As MrJennssen points out however, it does look better in game. On excellent setting, the game doesn't have to hide however.

Posts: 1317

Honestly, I think the Total War games are the types of games that look great when you play, but when you take a screen, the ground can look flat and "empty" compared to other, more small-scale games. I'm about to boot the game up now, so I'll let you know if I think it looks the same as Shogun 2, or if it's better. But then again, I only have a single 560TI...