|Rome - Total War|
|Developer: Creative Assembly
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1/Network multiplayer
I remember watching the BBC programme Time Commanders and being extremely excited about the forthcoming PC game that would use its graphics engine. In fact, I was so uncontrollably excited, before I could issue the command- “on my signal…. unleash smell,” I blew off my pants.
I’ll get on with it then.
Where are the roads? There should be roads all over that game map. We built roads everywhere and they all led to Rome.
It’s the start of the campaign Gaius, I haven’t started building them yet. Have some bloody patience! The game starts in the third century B.C. and Rome wasn’t built in a day you know.
It was built quicker than the new Wembley Stadium though. Useless Britons.
That’s enough. Either make a serious comment or shut up!
They named an aftershave after the Brutii you know.
No they didn’t Gaius. Look, I know you are a member of that family but will you please stop making things like that up. They didn’t name the Xbox game Brute Force after your lot either, or Brutus out of the Popeye cartoons so just drop it okay?
Anyway, you start off on a nicely detailed map of the Mediterranean with a couple or so towns in your possession, and by the careful management of your Denari and some decent town planning you can increase your trade, technology level, wealth, standing and power. Its familiar stuff but I found it to be done in a superior and satisfying way compared to most of the others of its kind. A lot of this is down to the sheer authenticity and detail of the proceedings and because the passage of time is completely turn-based, you can spent as long as you want studying statistics and plotting your next move as flawlessly as possible before allowing the computer to make his moves.
Personally I think you should just get on with it. You are worse than Socrates the way you babble on.
Didn’t he play for Brazil?
No, Athens F.C. actually. Plato was in goal too. Or was it Archimedes? No, I remember, ‘Archie’ was the ball boy. He kept shouting “Eureka, I have found it!” whenever he had to fetch the ball from the crowd.
Alright alright! I’ll do the jokes thank you very much. Jumping Jupiter! I don’t know why I bothered, you haven’t contributed anything remotely intelligent or factual.
How about - did you know that the Romans invented football? And concrete?
Is that why they are all blockheads like you then?
And just to add to your troubles there can be famine and rebellion, treason and annoying secret senate missions which may or may not be worth the reward. It has to be said that everything is ‘just so’ in this mode of play. In fact, it’s so absorbing you may actually decline to indulge in the actual combat engine and let the computer resolve many of your battles Risk-style for you, because there is still some skill in selecting the right commander and units to fight, and I found that the lure of seeing what the next turn offers politically on the world wide scale even more interesting than indulging in a good old scrap!
There’s nothing better than a battle - and we Romans always won.
Really? Like when Hannibal kicked your arse at the battle of Trebia?
That is not what happened. We were not decimated by that Punic idiot. Half of the men were ill with dysentery and had to keep nipping into the woods for a shi….
Erm, I think I will get on with the actual combat then.
It is excellent I must admit 4thy. The troop units look completely believable and authentic and there are so many unit types! Spanish cavalry, Balearic slingers, Greek Phalanx’s, Roman Auxilia, Cataphract cavalry and even Elephants all look the part, have authentic costume details and move like they should. The landscapes are beautifully drawn and bring back memories of when I wandered the earth in those ancient times.
Well done Gaius! You bring a tear to my eye. And he is right, you really do feel that you are commanding real armies on real terrain. Forests, undulating hills, rivers, towns and desert are all represented. The 3D engine complements the rather static and traditional campaign map beautifully by delivering a gorgeous and sometimes jaw-dropping experience akin to a poor mans Lord of the Rings movie battle. But such is the simple flexibility of the engine it is actually a joy to control, even if you end up getting a beating.
Your units are clearly marked and graphically distinct and can be selected by either clicking them on the actual battlefield or on their respective icons. There are certain complexities that can be used such as different formations or the odd special ability (like being able to form the famous ‘tortoise shield’ formation or using incendiary arrows) but in most respects combat is a wonderfully simple matter of ‘move and attack’. Every unit has its particular uses. Heavy infantry are good for opposing light cavalry, heavy cavalry or elephants are good for shocking heavy infantry, and light cavalry are good for harassment or protecting the flanks and so on. Just like real war, all of the real complexities come from your ability to send the right troops in to the correct areas of the battlefield. Terrain and other cover can be used to your advantage and it’s a wise idea to keep track on the morale and physical state of your enemies (and your own) troops. It’s just fantastic.
Gaius Decadus once dated Venus
What on earth was that?
Oh, just a little song. And also a hint to talk about the music.
Well thank the Gods that you didn’t go for the rhyme that I was expecting.
Oh yeah, the sonics. These are just as wonderful as everything else. If you have watched the Time Commanders series you will be familiar with many of the tunes and they are really spot on, somehow resonating the flavours of the diverse ancient world, as well as providing an adrenaline drive where necessary. I just love the haunting melody that plays on the campaign map, sung by what I imagine is a vestal virgin with a harp. The battle sounds are excellent too, cries of heroism and agony, the ringing of steel, screaming horses and that classic stomp, crunch, stomp of thousands of men marching.
Nice work 4thy, you must be weary after all that. Here, have this goblet of….erm…. wine.
- Historically, visually and geographically authentic.
- The 3D combat engine is gorgeous and sublime.
- Various modes of play.
- The campaign mode is a deep and rewarding experience.
- Depth and staying power abounds.
- It sounds spot on too.
- You can learn a hell of a lot about the classical world.
- Battles can spread out a bit.
- No naval combat.
- No lasers, racing cars or 7ft cyborgs.