As the sun beats down on the desolate shore, a vessel glides through the tumultous, white, foamy waters. Whistles sound as a man at the hull screams “Thirty Seconds!” and motions towards shore. Soldiers are nervously shaking and praying, looking down at their feet rather than look to the seemingly inevitable fate on the approaching shore. Their crafts land. The doors fall forward, allowing the soldiers inside to pour out. Upon emerging onto the wide-open plain of sand and rubble, projectiles fly through the air, crushing and tearing through the soldiers as they walk out. Blood sprays and sprinkles. Men drop left and right, a few making it up the shore to cover. All around, terror and chaos is present. Men witness their comrades cut down before they themselves are mortally wounded. Solemn faces high above look upon the carnage from their walls and redoubts, reloading their weapons for another volley against the invaders.
No, this is not D-Day. This is Carthage, 149 B.C, and Rome is invading.
Creative Assembly has once again entered the realm of Antiquity with their newest game, Rome II: Total War. Having had immense critical acclaim and financial success with their previous two titles, Shogun II: Total War and Empire: Total War, it appears the trial-and-error of CA’s groundbreaking tendencies will produce a game worthy of the mass legions of fans anxiously awaiting the newest project. CA has taken on the ancient world before with Rome I, creating a game many dedicated fans still consider to be the best in the series. This time around, CA has promised to go bigger and better, correcting the errors of the previous game and featuring a whole new system of strategy and empire-building.
In the first Rome, along with the other Total War games up until this point, armies were constructed by recruiting individual units one at a time, and then mashing them together for your final product. In Rome II, CA has said that they will be introducing a system where you recruit whole armies (or legions, when speaking of Rome) instead of using their old system of recruitment. Personally, the change worries me a little bit. I really liked the customization present in Rome I which allowed me to build a whole army of cavalry just because I wanted to, but I’m confident CA will maintain player-customization as a fixture of the game. This new system is meant to address the inevitable hours of micromanagement an armchair emperor will have to suffer through when constructing his army as well as maintaining his conquered territory, a problem faced by every avid Total War gamer. Now, you’ll recruit whole armies, with archer and cavalry and infantry corps all grouped into one.
As empires expanded and armies conquered, one thing rang true for practically every Total War game: excessive and painstaking micromanagement. I remember sitting hours in Rome I just going city to city to oversee the construction of harbors, barracks, or temples, and then finally going on to moving my army towards the enemy for a battle far shorter than the collective management of my empire. It was a difficult process, and a long one at that. Now, CA has altered the system to resemble that of Empire: Total War, which grouped together little territories into one big happy region, easy to manage and easy to keep organized. The game will reward players with these big regions once they conquer a whole area, so instead of conquering all the little fortresses and villages of Gaul (area of France/Northern Italy) and having to manage them individually every turn, you will instead be given the big region, and only managing the thing as a whole, not every single fortress and village.
This game is sure to improve a flaw found in Rome I and the recent Total War games to come out. Battles in Rome I could oftentimes be handfuls of units, taking away the full-scale epic struggles Total War players so desired. In Rome II, players will now see huge armies, making for historically-accurate ultra-conflicts instead of petty skirmishes. Graphics have of course improved since Rome I, so players will now be able to see high-definition soldiers reacting to their comrades getting killed, as well as commanders giving stirring speeches before every battle. Naval battles have also been joined with land battles, as shown in the 10-minute preview of the battle of Carthage presented by CA. CA has also said that the battles will feel less mathematical, as the excitement and action will outshine all of the figuring the battles have to undergo. Archers and infantry can hide behind cover and be knocked off of siege towers, stirring up dust when they hit he ground. The battles will feel like real struggles, with less of the designer’s influence noticeable. Regardless, I’m sure CA will receive the notoriety it deserves.
CA has been dropping factions on Facebook recently too. Rome and Carthage have been confirmed so far, with more to come every month. They’ve also said that this game will be significantly more expansive than the previous Rome, with rumors talking of India and even Siberia being within the bounds of the new campaign map. This game looks awesome so far. CA’s last projects, Empire and Shogun were clear indicators of their progress towards being one of the best names in strategy games. Rome II is already breaking barriers encountered in the first game, and then some.