Visually the real-time sections are amazing to watch. The troops aren’t just mirror images of each other, there’s a good variety to a group of soldiers and you’ll see individual soldiers break off of a larger force. If you hit the insert key the game adjusts the camera for a more cinematic experience, following your army into battle to hear the clash of steel. You’ll hear commanders call out orders, men rally the troops for their fighting cause, and the screams as fire arrows break down a line of calvary. Both graphically and audibly it’s an impressive sight, especially when there are a few thousand soldiers involved at a time. A new addition are the naval battles, which are equally as impressive visually and offer a nice change of pace from time to time.
From a purely cooperative perspective there are a few ways to play the game. A “co-op campaign” is just a normal game where you team up with another person and play to conquer the map. You each start with a group and city or two and then go from there. The problem with this mode is it’s painfully slow, as there’s no way to choose a lesser number of “players.” This means you and your partner will sit there with nothing to do for an average of 4-5 minutes while the computer figures out what to do with the AI players. Don’t believe me? Watch one turn.
Update: As of the latest patch, the speed of the co-op turns have been improved greatly.
In four hours of play we managed to get to 11 turns in one of our co-op games. Be ready to sit in for the long haul with a friend. Luckily the game DOES let you save and resume, though we encounter a handful of bugs that took a few connection retries to iron out.
In fact there are bugs all over the place in Total War: Rome 2. Interface quirks, repeating missions, AI troop bugs, and just plain AI stupidity. Creative Assembly definitely knows about this stuff and are committed to fixing it, but as of now, be prepared for some quirkiness.
If you don’t want to waste time with the turn based strategy part of Total War: Rome 2 you can play comp-stomp battles against the computer in a bunch of scenarios and pre-sets. This includes the ability to play cooperatively with a friend in naval, land, and combination battles. Just pick a bunch of units from a predefined and limited pool and hit go. It’s a nice way to get that quick fix of fun - because the co-op battles ARE fun.
Don’t get me wrong, Total War: Rome 2 isn’t a bad game. Like I said, the real time battles are amazing to play despite some inconsistencies. Setting up flanking maneuvers with a friend is incredibly satisfying and watching it play out is equally so. The turn based part of the game just drags the rest of it down, Total War was built on it’s real time roots, and that’s where it needs to stick.
The Co-Op Experience: Two online players can play together in their "conquest of the known world in a massive sandbox turn-based campaign mode."
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.