Review: This is a fantastic recreation of a marvellous world that is no longer present anymore.
Total War: Rome II is a turn-based strategy game developed by The Creative Assembly and published by SEGA, and was released in september 2013 for Microsoft Windows. The eighth standalone game in the Total War series of video games, Rome II is the successor to the 2004 game Rome: Total War.
As with Rome: Total War, Rome II is set in the classical antiquity and focus on the Roman Republic, allowing players to transform it into the Roman Empire if they so choose.
How far will you go for Rome?
The award-winning Total War series returns to Rome, setting a brand new quality benchmark for Strategy gaming. Become the world’s first superpower and command the Ancient world’s most incredible war machine. Dominate your enemies by military, economic and political means. Your ascension will bring both admiration and jealousy, even from your closest allies.
Will you suffer betrayal or will you be the first to turn on old friends? Will you fight to save the Republic, or plot to rule alone as Emperor?
✢ Plan your conquest of the known world in a massive sandbox turn-based campaign mode (supporting additional 2-player cooperative & competitive modes). Conspiracies, politics, intrigue, revolts, loyalty, honour, ambition, betrayal. Your decisions will write your own story.
✢ Build vast armies and take to the battlefield in real-time combat mode. Put your tactical skills to the test as you directly control tens of thousands of men clashing in epic land and sea battles.
✢ Play for the glory of Rome as one of three families or take command of a huge variety of rival civilisations – each offers a notably different form of gameplay experience with hundreds of unique units from siege engines and heavy cavalry to steel-plated legionaries and barbarian berserkers.
✢ See exotic ancient cities and colossal armies rendered in incredible detail, as jaw-dropping battles unfold. Detailed camera perspectives allow you to see your men shout in victory or scream in pain on the frontline, while a new tactical cam allows a god’s eye view of the carnage to better inform your strategic decisions.
✢ Extremely scalable experience, with gameplay and graphics performance optimised to match low and high-end hardware alike.
If you’re new to Total War: ROME II click the Total War Academy link to learn more: https://academy.totalwar.com/rome2/
Rome II is the biggest historical total war game to date, in terms of content, and the amount of gameplay value that you can get, based on a game in antiquity. I have clocked in 1,907.7 hours in this game. When launched in 2013, Rome II suffered from crashes, bugs, many glitches, and graphical issues. As a result, Rome II didn’t receive the accolade that it now gets. After eight years, how does Rome II compare?
As a sequel to the original hit, Rome Total War, developed in 2004, I would say Rome II delivers. It delivers a lot. It’s worth getting this game on a discounted sale, but make sure your PC specs are well done because this is one heck of a game to play on PC alone. Rome II inspiration’s ebbs off old Hollywood and Italian Sandals and Swords genre and takes a lot of inspiration from Gladiator, and Ben Hur/HBO Rome. There’s a lot of the Hollywood influence ebbing off in this game.
Rome II gives you a gigantic campaign map to write in. There’s an illustrious amount of factions, and the DLCs of Rome II are inevitable. They fill the game with more content than you can ever imagine. Here’s the thing about Rome II. If I want to recreate the Roman Empire, load up Steam, just go to the main menu screen, select Rome, and boom.
If I want to relive the moments of Mark Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian, launch the Imperator Augustus Campaign. I can play this game as Rome, and take my legions to the frigid, snowy north of Germania, I can send my legions to fight in Mountainous Spain, I can assign my legions into the North African Desert and overwhelm the city of Carthage, and invade Egypt and deal with the Parthians and Persians.
That’s the beauty of this game. There’s so much you can do. You don’t even need to play as Rome, you can play as a barbaric tribe, so say the Iceni or the Marcommani in Germania. You can play as Parthia or Armenia and establish your Empire. You can recreate history on such a grand scale that you can play unendingly at some point. I can recreate the Persian Empire. I can play as the Nabateans or the Kushites and rebuild forgotten civilizations into famous megalopolis realms. I can play as the Seleucids and rebuild Macedonian glory.
And that’s why I love this game. The DLCs for this game offer you many glimpses in Ancient History. Want to play as Ceasar and conquer all of Gaul? Check. Want to play as Aurelian in the Third Century and fight off the Barbarian Hordes and the Sassanids that are aiming to take advantage of the chaos that is going to erupt soon. Want to go back to the very foundations of Rome and play as the Samnites and rewrite history?
Want to play as Hannibal and conquer Rome?
Want to play as Sparta and resist the Persian invasion?
You can do all of that. The game’s beauty is in its landscape, its cities, and the fighting and political system that is involved is quite good.
I don’t want to mention too many negatives: But there wasn’t so much of a political system until Creative Assembly later patched with the family and tree politics in 2019. This dramatically changed the way they handled politics. CA had a lot of ambitions for this game, but it didn’t come out right as they would have expected. Barring this, the political system could be deeper, and could have more updates.
However, it is a chunky bloc of politics that you have to deal with in your campaigns. In a nutshell: You start off as a single member of your family. You marry and gain a wife and have kids. Then you keep hiring politicians that join rival parties and yours. You then have the options of making them governors, doing edicts, making them embezzle funds, etc.
There’s a lot to do, but it’s not as deep as say Attila’s system. It’s a sizeable chunk of content. And you have to keep your loyalty to the parties. Heck, a rival faction who might be your friends may assault your diplomats! You never know. I wish that there were more options available.
Let’s look at the stories you can recreate in this game. I remember, maybe a few years back I played Carthage thanks to a player’s save. This was on a modded version of a modification called Divide Et Impera, which after you’ve completed the vanilla campaign, you should def download and try this mod. Which I will go into much later detail. The campaign went as goes: In the year 240 BCE, the Carthaginian Empire had expanded and threaten Rome. Bostar, the newly elected leader of Carthage, came from an illustrious background, where the anger of his ancestors from the Punic Wars reverberated within him.
Within a decade, Bostar had expanded the Republic’s territories. Spain was neck and neck with the Iberian tribes. Bostar then broke up Roman power. He would liberate each city state that would form a coalition against Rome. He used their own tactics against them. The strategy worked!
Carthaginian armies easily swept aside the weak Romans. By taking advantage of the Italic States, Bostar had crushed Rome. And so Rome, in this timeline, never came to be! Bostar then became mad, inflicted by the curse from the Gods, for he had angered them. Not knowing how. He became mad, assassinating all his loyal followers. Daughters, generals, and sons. None survived his rule that had become like a tyrant.
Bostar died, leaving a dis fragmented Carthage. His son, Hasbar, sought to reform the power structure and rebuilt Carthage’s political structure., he expanded in the Illyrian provinces, and soon gave the enemies of Carthage a befitting reply. I forced him to abandon it, however, when he realized that the investment in the Illyrian provinces would not bring Carthage into its desired expansion. Defeating the Italic city-states now that they weren’t needed would be the better goal. And that happened.
The campaign had to end due to repeated patches and updates, but by that time, Carthage had the biggest political parties, with more politicians, noblewoman, generals, soldiers and the biggest line of my family tree. What a campaign that was. You will have some familiar experience with the vanilla campaign. But look, the thing is, in Rome II, every campaign is different. I can play an Iceni tribe and claim the glory of the world for the Britons. I can play as Macedon and restore Alexander’s glory.
There’s just so much you can do with different factions. Each faction feels unique. There’s no copy/paste in this game. There is no one linear story path. There aren’t any objectives that specifically force you to go into a historically accurate path. Imagine my campaign being the official history of Carthage in the 21st century. Now that wouldn’t make sense, would it? THAT is what the game gives you. An alternative history of the Ancient World that would never happen in actual life.
I will summarize the campaign DLCs: One, where you play Imperator Augustus. In this campaign, you’re put into the crisis of the Roman Republic, where Marc Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian, duke it out to become the masters of the Roman World. I think the Imperator Augustus was a brilliant campaign, but it lacked event art and more specific events. But the best part was Octavian, you can simulate the battle of Teutoburg Forest once you’ve expanded and built the Roman Empire, you can do this. And here’s what you get:
The second campaign DLC: Empire Divided. This pits you into the battleground arena where the Roman Empire is collapsing under the threat of Germanic tribes and the New Kids on the Block: The Sassanids. You play as ten different factions, Aurelian, Gaius Tetricus, Queen Zenobia and many more. This is an upgrade from Imperator Augustus: In terms of events, UI, faction events and much more. It gives you an immersive, well structured world-building aspect for many factions.
You feel that each faction is unique. Playing as Aurelian, who was Rome’s most competent Emperor to date, you feel his struggle he has to defeat not only the Germanic tribes, but Gaius’s legions, then the Sassanids, and he has to subdue revolts. If you read about Aurelian, you realise that he was Marcus Aurelius 2.0. That’s what he was.
Wrath of Sparta is another DLC that’s mixed for me. On the one hand, it directs you into the climatic start of the Peloponnesian Wars. It does lack certain elements of immersive world-building and Athens doesn’t have its unique city layout from the grand campaign, instead when you besiege the city, it has a generic Greek city layout.
The Persian Invasion needed to be better and there wasn’t much mechanics that was needed to reflect the volatile politics of the Peloponnesian Wars.
If you are a fan of this period however, you must get this DLC. Ceasar in Gaul however is fun, positive and more upbeat as you play Rome crushing Gaul!
You can relive key moments from Ceasar’s Gallic Wars, and I haven’t played it fully, but it’s well worth it. The same will go for Hannibal at the Gates, but it was a well received, well done, and well thought out DLC, that allowed you to play as Hannibal and crush the Romans. The last DLC for Rome II was Rise of the Republic. Which puts you in the foundation’s setting of Ancient Rome and its neighbours. This was well received, but also received some flak for its AI difficulty. The amount of battles and campaign gameplay you can get from this game alone is astounding.
Rome II’s historical battles are some of the best from a gameplay point of view. They’re fun, hard, and engaging. Want to fight near the Pyramids as Rome and defeat Egypt? You can do that with disembarking ships full of legions! Watch the ships disembark onto the shore as your legions land and are confronted with artillery fire from the Egyptian giant ballistas! Watch as your men march up the hill only to be confronted by a fierce Egyptian counterattack. Till this day, the Battle of the Nile remains one of my most favorite historical battles ever. The setting, the lush landscape, everything about it is sheer perfectness. Rome II also features naval battles and disembarking ships onto a city when you besiege it in its port. However, the port cities of Rome II are limited in terms of layout, and rely on the generic layouts that were created for it. I do wish we had more unique port cities like Carthage for example. Naval battles are fun, but they can be slow and cumbersome at the same time and they take time getting used too.
However, Rome II’s other historical battles: Carthage, is difficult, but also a lot smaller than I expected. You can’t exactly march across the acropolis as there’s no way to get to it. Let’s just say if you google Rome II Carthage’s map on google, you’ll quickly find out the reason. I don’t want to reflect too much on it, but the historical battle is decently playable, but difficult even on normal difficulty. Carthage’s garrison is too huge, and I think the city layout map could do with some expansion. But that’s me. The other battles are fine and are quite good to play! Teutoburg Forest being the best one.
To the negative sides of Rome II, that can only be blamed on a rushed launch. As a result, Rome II suffers from some glaring issues that are still present: Some battle maps are glitches, and troop movement can become bugged. The Rome II political family tree could do with some refining in some areas. Rome II’s battle city layout maps are unique in several to eight custom layouts. The rest are all generic and often-over used. If I attack Syracuse, for example, I get the city layout of Carthage. That’s not what I would want, as I would a different city layout.
Rome II’s city layout, the Egyptian ones only have two city layouts. That’s it. And that’s often repeated a lot when you besiege an Egyptian city. The Eastern settlements have around 2-3 unique city layouts, but that’s it. I can understand the developers went for copy and pasting as Rome II’s campaign map is gigantic. It would cost a lot of resources to simply do ten different battle maps for ten provinces when they need to do more.
That being said, I want Rome II shortly to get an update where they add in more unique cities. Although its developmental cycle is finished, they worked this game on years after its launch. It’s still a popular game and sells well. Plus, many are now liking the game. Though to the older veterans that grew up with Rome Total War, it could be a hit and miss. Rome II also suffers from a lack of cinematics, and there are only four to five videos: The fall of Rome, your general dying, and civil war starting and ending. Including the gladiator slave revolt which was used generically. I think to this day, Rome II needs more cinematic style videos, like its predecessor, Shogun 2 had done.
Rome II also needs more cinematic intros, that would help world-building aspects. Rome II at launch didn’t have that a good deal of cinematics, and if you go into the Rome II wiki through the game, you’ll find that they reserved many of those cinematics for Rome II’s tutorials. Instead of making a grand manual as they did for Rome Total War, Creative Assembly opted for an in-game encyclopedia, which to this day, I haven’t been able to figure out. It needs more refinement, in my opinion.
Still, what Rome II needs just to polish it a little more: New cinematics, vastly improved and giving the campaigns much-needed flavor. More event art that replaces the Roman generic art and presents more of the grand campaign, a battle map editor in the steam workshop allowing us to create custom cities. Because by God, Rome II’s cities are beautiful.
That being said, this is a wonderful game. For the modifications of this game, there are around 5000 mods already on this game alone. If you want a complete overhaul, try Wars of the Gods mod. That uses and changes the UI, giving you a lot of new armies, factions, and troops. The campaign difficulty is increased. This is a good starting foundation for then going into Divide Et Impera. Divide Et Impera makes the game more grounded, historically accurate, and makes you feel you’re playing in history. There’s also a mod that allows you to play as Cyrus the Great and build the Persian Empire, and a mod called Total War, New World, which adds the Atlanteans into the game 😀
These mods are searchable via google and the steam workshop for Rome II. This game costs around £100 alone if we count for the DLC added. I suggest that you buy this game through a discount sale which Creative Assembly does often. Buy the DLC that you think you want to play. Want to play as Desert factions with unique event art and events? Get it. Want to play as Pergamon and build a new empire? Buy it. You can get the individual unit packs, but I recommend the campaign and flavour faction packs as they add more value. The base game itself has so much content that you won’t need to worry about DLCs for a while. There’s so much you can do. And comparing this to Rome Total War, battle wise its alright, but on the campaign side, it’s expanded, its more gigantic, more variety of factions, diplomatic options are well extended. It’s battles are more foreshadowing of the faster battles that dominate the newer total wars. Its not exactly as structured as Rome Total War’s combat was.
Overall, I feel like I’ve written a love letter to this game. This game has become one of my favorite total war games. The sheer gigantic size of the map, the amount of battles you can fight, the playability of the campaigns is so good, you can do everything with this game. It’s one of the best and fantastic renditions of the Ancient World. I give this game a solid 9.5/10. You should really play this grand RTS title!