by seshat

CCV The Perfect Game...For Me: Rome: Total War

It has finally come to this: after several years (turns) of planning, you gather all your soldiers into the largest army you have ever assembled, leaving regions of your empire unprotected while you march to conquer Rome.   But Rome will not go without a fight. As soon as you lay siege to the city, several Roman armies rally to defend their city. Their armies combined are twice the size of your own army and the computer tells you your chances of winning are 1:3.

This battle will decide the future of your empire. If you win it, you will capture the greatest city of ancient times and your empire will continue to grow and prosper; if you loose it, your empire might be left unguarded and might crumble. You will have to rely on your wits during a real-time battle with the enemy. During the battle you  maneuver your units to attack weak spots and change the tide of war; perhaps by hiding cavalry in the forest and then charge in the rear the foot soldiers. There are very few games that give you the same sense of accomplishment when winning a battle where the odds were against you.

This scenario is one of the many you will encounter while playing Rome: Total War. You set up a long term plan on how to build your empire and as you approach its completion, turns can't pass fast enough. 

The Total War series by The Creative Assembly has produced some of the best games I have ever experienced. They have created titles set in the medieval ages, the early modern age, and Japan; but when trying to pick their best in the series I selected Rome because of the classical setting. 


There are many reasons for liking this game:

Immersion: Rome Total War is set in a very detailed and realistic world. Your generals and family members are born and die (unlike Civilization where you have an immortal leader), you can view your cities, their architecture and their progress, you can see caravans traveling through roads, you can select the suitors for your daughters etc. This level of detail gives you the feeling that you are playing a revisionist history where things happened differently in the past (perhpas you always felt Hannibal should have defeated Rome), and you can reshape the world as you see fit. Gameplay:  Rome: Total War is the perfect combination of turn-based strategy, real-time strategy (or real-time tactics), and even some RPG elements by letting your family members level up with battles, administration, or leadership experience. You will combine alliances, trading pacts, religion, spying, and strategic attacks to win in the game. There is also a multiplayer mode where you can play online battles against other human players. Scale: While the map of the world is really large, (the turn-based strategy part) the sense of scale that you get when participating in battles (the real-time strategy part) of thousands of units redefines the word "Epic" in a videogame. Educational:  Most videogames are a good way to pass time, but they rarely leave you with something productive at the end. While playing this game you learn (without even trying) geography and history. You learn basic facts of some of the most important classic civilizations such as Rome, Carthage (Phoenicians), Greeks, Macedonians, Egyptians, Gauls, Parthians (Persians), etc.  the location and names of their major ancient cities, the ancient marvels of the world (Colossus of Rhodes, Gardens of Babylon, etc.), famous quotes,  and the mythology of classical cultures (who would have thought that Ba'al, a name I only associated with D&D was the major god of Carthage?) Music: Jeff van Dyck composed one of the most memorable game soundtracks I have ever heard.  You should listen to some of the samples as words cannot make justice to the music in this game:                                                                                                                    Mod support: While you can replay the game with many factions, I have come back to this game many times because of the great mods created by the community.  One of my favorites is "Rome: Total Realism" a mod that expands the map, introduces new playable civilizations, and is more historically accurate. There are other hosted mods @ including realistic mods (Europa Barbarorum), mods focused on battles (Roma Surrectum, from which the last picture is taken from), other time periods (Rise of Persia) and even fictitious settings, like mods for the Lord of the Rings. 


Rome Total War created a legacy that can satisfy gamers, history enthusiasts, military strategists, and its engine has even been used in the History Channel episodes of decisive battles    After its release more than 6 years ago, Rome Total War is still a very relevant game. Feral entertainment released earlier this year a port for Mac computers, and it has support for mods The mod community is still very active and new releases and downloads are still popular. And since we are in co-optimus I am happy to report that you can play co-op battles against the AI (although you cannot do co-op in the main campaign).

As for me, after making the jump to consoles (our home is mostly laptop-based nowadays), the only reason I go back to play in a Windows PC is to experience the Total War Series (and while writing this blog post, I went ahead and bought the Rome Total War version for the Mac!). Please Creative Assembly, create a Total War game for the consoles!! Stop trying to create new fantasy/sci-fi RTS games like Stromrise, we want the real Total War deal.  I'll make sure to get my first platinum trophy in a game of this type :-)

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