on September 4, 2013
I am writing this review based on the sept. 3rd 2013 release build. I spent approximately 10 hours within the game on the release day, playing a long roman campaign on hard difficulty. I wish to share my experience and my concerns and point of note. I have played all past total war titles back to shogun 1. My computer is I7 3770k, 770gtx sc, 32gb ram, and a agility 2 ssd. Below I share what I perceive are the pros and cons of this series. I will also update the review in a few months time as patches and tweaks are released. You can skip to the conclusion at the bottom if you find this to lengthy.
- returns to the roman era, featuring many more factions, hundreds of different units, and a massive world rivaling empire total war global scale.
- new reworked agents that offer more intrigue with new actions. New Army stances that allow expedited movement, fortify a spot with new barricades and traps or create Ambush scenarios.
- detailed and intricate melee with the best motion capture in a total war to date.
- diplomacy is improved. client states absorbed can be given war targets and will help putting down slave rebellions. AI is active in seeking non aggression pacts and expanding trade.
- campaign map is lovely. I actually did not experience any bugs related to the world map such as movement. Good.
- the big war-elephant in the room is the speed of battles. Battles are over often in under 5 minutes. This is a complicated balance issue but it seems to include weak morale, movement of AI making decisions, and some deliberate designs by creative assembly. Battles instead of being somewhere to savor the fine tactical nature are instead two rushed blobs colliding. Very rarely can you flex your general know how as one side routes before you can respond. Battles are resolved faster then even shogun 2, which were already the most decisive in the series. This is a very bad thing.
- end of turn length gets minute+ long late game. Turning off show ai moves helps but you still get to twiddle your thumbs as 100 faction emblems cycle through.
- performance on systems, as to be expected day 1, was not the best. Massive fps drop in larger battles with units. This game was supposed to be gorgeous but looks rather plain and performs ho hum on my higher end system. A visit to official forums will see a torrent of people experiencing poor performance. Even supporters of the franchise are expressing performance concerns.
- i do not like the new general abilities. I feel like they break alot of the unit on unit interactions. Nearly every unit as well has an ability or more then one. So we are talking multiple activate-able abilities from each unit card and the general plus moving armies. This leads to higher micro management and looking for buttons to press then watching the battle unfold. Some abilities imo should effect an area instead of 1 unit which is weird and some things are spammy like warcry which wrecks and enemies morale.
- ai not advanced enough compared to past titles. Again it does stupid actions like running units up hill across entire map. It does not wait for ai reinforcement, does not maintain army cohesions. Runs around in baffling fashion. Unit cohesions turn into messy blobs... Just disappointing overall.
- day 1 bugs present. Worst i encountered was losing the ability to scroll on the world map permanently in mid game. I also suffered 1 turn hanging and requiring reloading past save. Also had a crash. Better then empire total war, not much though.
- no blood in the game. Likely a blood dlc planned, but imo without it makes the game look very plain compared to shogun 2.
- some quirks with units like centurions only chucking spears on a charge. They should be chucking spears as soon as enemy approach not waiting for player command. Lots of tiny things like this And i only have played roman faction.
Rome 2 is the biggest and most complicated total war to date. There are many nice improvements and advancements added to the game for those veteran graybeards of the Total War series. I wanted more total war with refinement and a evolutionary step up the ladder of war gaming. However some design choices seem to have harmed the battle side of the game. Also, day 1 issues again plague a release with graphical performance and balance.
For fans, this is not our first rodeo of a total war release. Over the coming weeks and months CA has the task of patching and balance fixes. This is not a easy process and will take a lot of time. If you bought any total war game post release you likely played a feature complete and optimized game. As a potential customer evaluating this new product, expect to be patient as these revisions are made and polish continued with new dlc.
Rome 2 sets a good foundation promising epic scope and glories yet to come. I would however not suggest this title, in its current state, to anyone new to the series. I would expect people to be put off by some of the complexity of the campaign map along with current battle mechanics. Fans likely already purchased and know what they have gotten themselves into. It is now up to creative assembly to address the many problems inherent in the game and encountered in community.
I will update my review in a few months time as I did for Empire total war.
on September 24, 2013
Where do I even begin...?
Pathing is horrible. Unit collision is almost nonexistent. Mosh pit battles that make it impossible to form or hold a line. Defending a town? Lined up pikeman three units deep on a narrow street? No mas; the barbarian hordes will RUN RIGHT THROUGH them like water through a sieve. Want to regroup and counterattack? Can't do that either; some of your pikemen will stick to the rampaging enemy like glue until you click on a given unit and see it's strung through half the town single-file..... oh and God forbid you try and turn a corner. The entire unit will stick to the corner and feed a worker-ant trickle of troops at an enemy that will gobble them up as they arrive. Get two or three units stuck on the corner and they'll mill around until the battle is over.
Can't ravage your enemy's lands without taking the town. Can't intercept enemy armies -- they go right past you with all the ease of a naked Celt running through a Macedonian phalanx. Armies build their own transports on the fly and literally skate across the water, destroying any actual FLEETS OF WARSHIPS you so laboriously built because they're so much stronger for some reason. Gone are the various seasons -- turns are a year long now, so no more worries about freezing in the winter, and it takes a couple of decades for you to explore the Mediterranean. No more family trees... just anonymous blocky faces of people who, you are informed in some abstract way, are in your 'faction' of your empire. Rebel armies that are tiny and easily crushed. Random civil wars that spawn twice as many armies as you are allowed, all with top-notch troops that mysteriously appear in your capitol -- oh, didn't I mention that the number of armies you have is arbitrarily limited to the size of your empire? Not money or food supply or anything. Oh no.
Oh, and if you're on the offensive in a field battle, there's going to be a capture point plopped down somewhere at random. Fail to get to it in time, wherever it may be, and your whole army will panic and route and be slaughtered even if they were beating an inferior enemy half their number. Taking advantage of the terrain? Maneuver? Plugging holes in your (utterly porous) line? All those things that make you feel like a general..? Heck no, just make a beeline for the cap point or get wiped off the earth. Conversely, if you can somehow figure out how to hold the cap point in a town for the requisite amount of time, an entire stack of enemy armies will suddenly freak out and start running, and you can happily butcher them... if you can get your pursuing troops to do anything besides job alongside them in loose formation and occasionally pick one off. Isn't that fun?
This is just off the top of my head, and doesn't even take into account the most buggy launch I've ever seen. I'm not even going to talk about the hundred-plus AI factions, every Tom Dick and Harry tribe, city-statelet, and emergent splinter factions that ALL eat up CPU time to figure out what they're going to do (even after the latest patch it still takes two or three whole minutes whenever you press the FINISH button. Bring a good book). I'm not talking about ships sailing through dry land. Oh no. I'm not talking about technical issues. Those can be fixed. Maybe. I'm talking about GAMEPLAY. Most of the mechanics we've been accustomed to over the past decade have been stripped out and the ones that remain are dysfunctional. The resulting steaming pile of fail isn't just dumbed down. It's dumb, period.
I have the horrible feeling the developers were aiming for a console port and fouled everything up. I'll reinstall after Christmas to see if they're managed to salvage it, but until then? Save your freaking money.
EDIT 10/6/13: Out of 157 reviews, 97 are one or two stars. Only 43 are five or four stars. And yet it's rated as two and a half stars out of five. What manner of industry-driven chicanery is this, Amazon?
on September 4, 2013
I'm updating this review now that I have 80 hours played and CA has released 2 patches (with patch 3 in the works).
I'm sticking with 3 stars, even though there has been a lot of improvement with the patches.
- Speed of game is certainly improved. Less waiting during AI turns, even battle loading and save game loading seem streamlined.
- AI seems to be better than before. The game is still very easy on 'normal'. I started a second campaign on 'hard' with the Iceni and it still seems too easy. (and trust me, I'm not an uber gamer either).
- Graphics seem to scale better depending on settings.
- I don't experience nearly as much lag in campaign or during battles as at release.
- 1 year per turn and no seasons. This really detracts from the 'Epic' feel of the game. I enjoyed this feature in Shogun 2, I felt like it added greatly to the 'world experience'. You have to plan around the harvest and the winter attrition. It couldn't be full court press all the time, sometimes you had to 'let nature take its course'. In Rome 2 they're going for epic by increasing map size to a huge number of settlements. Well, let's be honest, after you've conquered 1/3 of a gigantic map and nobody even comes close to your size and might, the game becomes monotonous and boring. They wanted to stay somewhat historical with timetable and hit the magic 300 turns per game number. Sorry, it just doesn't jive. With 1 turn per year the generals die too quickly as well.
- Autoresolve is bipolar. Seems that it doesn't take enough factors into account when determining the casualties and likelihood of victory. For instance, I am given a 10% chance to win by autoresolve, but fight the battle manually and win 10:1, killing 700 of them for 70 of mine. Why is this? you got me....
- Promotions for generals and characters is like guess work (at least until you've memorized the promotions table from the wiki). Shogun2 had a nice, easy to read, and informative tree it displayed when selecting promotions. Rome 2 does not.
Anyway, its still a decently fun game to play.... but my advice is still to wait a while until you jump in. Let the kinks get ironed out.
Here's my original review (for record):
Bought Rome 2 and played 5 hours last night.
Honestly, I think it is a step back for Total War titles.
I have a decent amount of experience in the Total War series of games; I played Shogun 1 from the start, I've played though most factions in Rome 1 and Medieval 2, and have over a hundred hours with Shogun 2 as well.
Unfortunately, Rome 2 misses the mark for me (so far).
Here are my major gripes:
1. The user interface is clunky; even Medieval is better (and that was released over 10 years ago).
Town management is cumbersome, and the technology tree is horrible.
(Why couldn't they stay with the Shogun 2 appearance? It was smooth and intuitive. The unit cards had character and were identifiable. In Rome 2 the buildings in the town/province look like icons not images. Sorry, but I want to see a harbor, or a shipyard, not an icon of a dock or a fish. I want to see flowing seas of grain or a cow in a shed.... the icons on my smart phone have more detail!... what year is it?)
2. The battles aren't fun anymore.
- First of all they're over in a flash, with little strategy required. Just grab everyone, and run them towards the bad guys.... done. When capturing towns, just dash for the middle and beat the timer. Somehow the AI doesn't try too hard to remove you from the capture point. (I won a battle last night outnumbered 5:1 simply by running to the middle of the town and sitting there. I thought, 'oh boy, this'll never work, they're about to round the corner and wipe me out!'... nope, I never saw them. Not sure where they were or what all 2000 of them were doing, but they weren't defending the center of the town, that's for sure.
- Fatigue affects from running? Haven't seen any yet, even tho my guys run everywhere.
- Morale? The AI appears to have none.
- Also, in all previous titles, as far as I can recall, once you positioned your troops in battlefield alignment (ie. Spearmen up front, ranged behind, and cavalry on the flanks) and then grouped them (CTRL+1), you could hold RMB and drag that group anywhere on the map and they'd march there and preserve their formation.... apparently no longer!.... now they reorder themselves into a some order I haven't figured out yet... so much for the use of terrain. UPDATE: pressing ctrl-G after formation locks them into position relative to one another. (Thanks all for the advice)
Look, I love the Total War Games, I'm not trying to be a basher here, but I am less than impressed with Rome 2.
Honestly, if you're on the fence then I suggest you pass for now. Look back a few months form now and see if its gotten better.
I will continue to play because I do love this era in history. I will learn to live with the tech tree and the simple icons and when it comes to battles I will most likely just use the autoresolve button from now on.
Not sure what went wrong. Maybe they're trying to be more like Civ, I think they should stick with being Total War.
UPDATE: 40 hours played, living with imperfection and having fun. yup, having fun.
Yes, battles are too easy and AI is not very challenging yet, but I think CA is working on it.
I'm sticking with my 3 star review until they get their act together and fix lag issues and AI.
Anyone on the fence should watch Angry Joes YouTube review.... He nails it.
If you're a fan of total war you'll buy it, you'll be po'd, then you'll play and enjoy it for what it is and hope it gets better as time goes on.
on October 2, 2013
Mt first strategy game was Shogun I. Over the past decade, I've played Rome Total War 1 more than any other game, strategy or otherwise. Total War: Rome II is nothing less than the worst game I've ever purchased. I want to enjoy it, I really do, but everything--everything--in this game is either unfinished or completely broken, from the fact that no computer (no matter how high-end) has yet to run this game without terrible FPS and constant crashes, to the fact that the AI in game is so bad many battles can't even be played.
However, even if every bug is fixed and the game so perfectly optimized it becomes playable (both highly unlikely given the current state of the game) it is still a terrible game. The following is brief list of great features in the first Rome game--a ten year old game, keep in mind--that are not in the current game, yet should be (this list was compiled by various reviewers on the official RT2 forum, with some additions made for this review):
Cut from Rome I
- Family tree
- Fleshed out general speeches
- Faction intros
- Several buildings and types of infrastructure (roads...etc)
- Selectable guard mode
- Fire at will ability for units with pila
- Proper testudo formation
- Music by the beloved and award winning Jeff van Dyck
- Two turns per year
- Provincial economic management of cities (set tax rate for each city...etc)
- City view
- Tons of historical battles
- Several diplomatic options (accept or we will attack, city gifting, map information...etc.)
- Unit transfer between armies without generals (also no scouting detachments because of this)
- Several types of statistics screens (army comparison, populations size...etc.)
- Nonrestricted army size
- Nonrestricted number of buildings
- Leader characterization
- Culture specific advisors
- Loose and tight formation
- Ability to garrison buildings (as shown in trailer and represented in E:TW)
- Spanish and Italian voice acting in the respective versions of the game
- Several types of ingame videos (when conquering a settlement with wonder...etc)
- Ability to upgrade walls
- Less 2D art in the campaign (buildings...etc)
- Several structures not shown on the 3D map (mines, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, roads...etc.)
- Unit recruitment affecting demographics and economics
- Several sound effects (barbarian warcries, screeching...etc)
- Ability to move capitals
- Inter-provincial trading
- Senate missions
- Unit sapping
- 600 turn long campaign in total
- No drag and drop of unit cards to merge units
- Historical events
- Fertility systems
- Global chat lobby
- Ability to have units change between primary and secondary weapons
- Building repairs
- Maximum unit size of 243 men
- Separate names for cities and the regions they are in
- Ability to choose which units to reinforce after losing men in battle
- Some graphical effects in the battle maps (scorched earth...etc)
- Free for all ability in mulitplayer
- Visual aging of characters
- Year information when loading into campaign
- Migrations (BI)
- Ability to automate management of each individual city.
- Several graphical animations (units no longer push siege equipment, no longer climb towers, elephants...etc)
Better implemented in Rome I
- Unit cohesion (phalanx formation severely entangled because of this)
- Mod friendliness
- Siege AI
All said, there is virtually no content in this game. All the development money apparently went to intense, often deceptive advertizing campaign by CA to sell a game not worth playing. Avoid this game. (FYI, it is into patch 3 now, and no, the patches have not done much to improve it and in some cases have made it worse.)
------------------------------------ Patch 12 Update ------------------------------
As of May 2014, Rome II is into the 12 update. While my low rating of the game hasn't changed, I thought it worth updating the review since 1) the game has reached the 12th update, and 2) I've logged a large amounts of hours in the game. Why, you might ask, would I log many hours in a game I think is terrible?! I've spent most of that time working on mods and play-testing them, trying to improve the game. Currently, modders have very little ability to change core features of the game, many of which remain broken after nearly a year since release. For instance, many siege battles are still broken and unplayable (e.g., in some siege battles units placed on walls still cannot path-find, meaning any units on the wall is basically stuck and brain-dead). The AI still does not know how to use most siege equipment, and the "torch" system of siege battles remains a debilitating game-play feature meant to band-aid the broken core mechanic.
Performance, even on high-end rigs, is still terrible. Watch any "let's play" Rome II on youtube, for instance, and you will see the notorious slow-down to under a dozen FPS in large battles--a bottleneck in the game's engine, not the computer.
While a number of free content releases have come out, most have added "fluff" without improving game-play (e.g., seasons, which, while nice, only pretties up a broken game). There are still surprisingly few units in the game, in spite of the advertising claims otherwise, insofar as most units are simply slightly different skins of the same base unit.
One feature of Rome II--giving credit where it is due--is the lack of crashes to the desktop and the inevitable corrupted saves (for me at least, though few are reported on the forums) which ruined many long campaigns in other total war games. This is a massive improve on a consistent problem dating back to the first total war games.
So, in sum, not much has changed as of patch 12. Perhaps by patch 20--at this rate, January 2015--the game will be patched enough to deserve a label other than "broken."
on October 10, 2013
I'll start this by saying I am a huge fan of the Total War series and have liked most of the included features in all their games (with the exception of Realm Divide in Shogun 2) and like many I was hooked into the hype to a sequel to the original Rome Total War which I enjoyed a lot. However, Rome II has fallen mighty hard with gamers that loved the series.
Rome II had so much potential and unfortunately fell victim to "lets get it out the door as soon as possible" and was so poorly optimized at launch that many many many people had issues playing it on a host of different systems from the low end to the high end rigs.
Here's a short list of what is wrong with this game in its current state as of (10/10/13) a full month and 3 patches after the game was released:
*Campaign AI is too passive on all modes
*Battle AI is too weak
*User Interface looks horrible
*Internal Politics system is shallow and looks unfinished
*Diplomacy is buggy and hardly works when you want to talk to other nations.
*Navy Battles just aren't working right.
The list of problems with the game goes on and on but those are the major points that is current ruining the game for me.
Let's start with the first problem, the campaign AI. The AI on the campaign map hardly reacts to what you are doing around it unless you are directly in its territory and it wants to attack you. You could have a nation hate your guts and they'll do nothing more then sit in its territory and wait for you to come to them. This has happened in several campaigns now.
Next is Battle AI. The AI in battles is easily exploited (especially in capture point style battles) and overall doesn't react well in trying to put up a real challenge to whatever tactic you decide against it. Send all your forces into a melee blob mess till the enemy routs, why not? Outflank their poorly designed ranks and mass rout, Sure! Another problem is what users have termed "Magic Buttons" (flaming javelins, Use the Whip, Second Wind to name a few) on practically every unit in the game. Battles have come down to hit this button at this time when your units are engaged and you win. Let's just throw in here that units also need to be heavily balanced cause right now certain units just tear through other units when they aren't supposed to.
The UI seems completely rushed and unfinished, having looked at "alpha/beta" screenshots and the finished product it makes you wonder what happened to the more "authentic antiquity" feel of the game with the scroll like works instead of the translucent black boxes we got.
Internal Politics was a new feature added that reminded me a lot of the Cardinal/Pope system we got in Medieval II however way more shallow then its M2 counterpart. In M2s system you worked up your priests who if they were lucky were promoted to Cardinals (which gave them immunity from heretics and inquisitors) and allowed you to choose the new pope when it came time to vote, allowing you to manipulate the outcome of elections if you worked deals with other nations who had a cardinal and allowed you a higher standing with the Papacy to call out crusades and do things to other catholic nations that the Pope might look the other way. In the current Internal Politics system you can see current members of your house and members of other houses and senate(if you're playing as Rome). You can take actions to solidify your house as a power house and start a civil war to become an Emperor or keep it a Republic but you can never eliminate the other houses completely and Civil War only happens once in the entire campaign. Things like Gravitas and Ambition are never fully explained in the UI and the only thing that makes sense is the higher your current senator support the closer you are to civil war. Lack of a family tree makes things like adoption, marriage, and bribery meaningless and difficult to tell who currently belongs to your current house without having to find the person on the campaign map and then open the politics screen as the naming system doesn't even name most of these characters after whatever house you're currently playing.
Creative Assembly came out with a ton of videos prior to release touting how much better the AI was in every sense, campaign, Battle and Diplomacy. Not only was this a bold face lie, but in some cases the AI has been worse in some cases. I'm Rome and want to strike up a trade deal with a faction that either kinda likes me or is neutral, most of the time it either fails or you have to offer a ridiculous amount of gold or terms to get the AI to agree to simple trade agreements. It's not just one faction either, it's ALL of them. If you outnumber a faction and they are down to their last region and you want to have a ceasefire, they will reject every time unless you offer them outrageous terms...it's totally unbelievable that diplomacy in the game hasn't improved at all over 5 releases.
My last gripe is with the Navy Battles, the free transport ships you get by putting your armies into the oceans are way too overpowered compared to actual navies that are more expensive per unit then land armies to the point where its actually harmful to have any navy at all. They need some serious tweaking to the point where you actually want to escort your army with a navy in case your enemy has a rival navy to take you out. Not only that, but the navy battles themselves are pretty boring in real time and pretty tactic-less, pretty much just take your ship and ram the other ship till their dead...don't bother boarding cause it doesn't work most of the time, and when you do ram take careful note to watch your ship do nothing frustratingly while you click furiously to get it to do something while the enemy ship just backs up and rams your ship over and over till it destroys it. (has happened in more then one navy battle).
There's a lot more wrong then right with this game and Creative Assembly should feel embarrassed for releasing it in such a mess. They would if they weren't swimming in their as quoted "7 times more pre-ordered then Shogun 2" money.
Compared to previous Total War games, this one was just a hot mess.
on August 6, 2014
I'm going to be blunt: this game is STILL broken and not fun to play. I'm too frustrated to even write a complete game review, but people have been complaining about this game since day 1 so you get the idea. What happened to the ability to manage each CITY? What happened to the ability to build units freely and be able to defend your provinces which are constantly under attack?
The campaign game mechanics are horrible. Public order is so difficult to maintain that I've been attacked by slave rebels more often than by enemy armies. Here's the problem: an enemy attacks my region and I lose it. They destroy ALL my buildings (thousands of $'s worth). I recapture the settlement and MY OWN PEOPLE ARE ANGRY THAT I DID SO?! The modifiers for capturing a city are so strong that BOOM a slave army pops up next to my settlement and begins raiding the area. Slave armies that spawn are always more powerful than defending garrisons and oftentimes 2-3 times more numerous.
I then send my armies to dispatch the slaves because otherwise they become stronger each turn... but then I lose my provinces to real enemy armies (which I capture but then a slave uprising is coming! horray!). I've captured 20 territories, however lost 14, 1 step forward 2 steps back. I don't even build buildings anymore because I have to constantly spend money to kill off rebels. The overall problem is that the stupid game does not let me build armies without a general!! I cannot spawn units onto my cities to defend them from raiding armies. I cannot have more than 6 generals, yet I have more than 6 provinces and they are all being attacked constantly. They are being attacked constantly because the computer armies have the ability to simply morph into sea vessels without any cost to them. It makes defending your provinces near impossible.
Naval combat sucks - auto resolve.
The battle maps are too large, I spend 5 minutes of the battle marching towards the enemy (my units are on RUN with 3x fast forward) and only 2 minutes actually fighting.
More than half of my battles are still sieges, which the game developers said they wanted to get away from. It's a shame because they put a lot of work into making the campaign map look nice and making
F this game, I'm going back to Napoleon total war or Shogun II where you can freely manage your cities and armies. Where you deal with riots once every 10 turns instead of EVERY GOD **** TURN. I kid you not, I went 6 turns in a row dealing with slaves until my brother asked me why I'm still playing such a frustrating game.
DO NOT BUY THIS GAME EVER. 1/10. I thought the patches and mods would fix things, foolish me. Creative Assembly better get their act together or they'll be a dead franchise, Rome 1 is better than this garbage. Sim City 3 all over again.
on September 29, 2013
This game is using false advertizement, the game is still unfinished and being patched weekly and even those patches are getting delayed now as if the game is really broken at its core with disastrous AI flaws where the AI does not even attack.
on September 26, 2013
The game itself received tremendous accolades before launch. I was looking forward to a new installment of the Total War series with the much anticipated improvements in AI.
I was simply deceived. I'm not sure what game they showed us for demo's and gave to the Game magazines, but it is obviously not the same one. You can tell from the screenshots they had a different build.
Its a bug riddled mess that dilutes the interesting strategy components that make the Total War games so interesting, and moved towards a sloppy and uninteresting arcade game. The bugs are to numerous to mention here, and the gameplay is awful. If there was a precedent for false advertising in the software world this game release would qualify.
I will never purchase another SEGA/CA product again. From the curious lack of response of their staff to the cries of disbelief after this release, I'm guessing that's what they want.
I gave it one star because the system wont let you rate anything a zero star. Massive disappointment in this software.
on February 7, 2014
I've been a big Total War fan since Rome 1, so naturally I was more than excited for this reboot of my old favorite. The game is far more ambitious in scale than just about anything else Creative Assembly has attempted in the past and in many ways I think that they took off more than they could chew.
Features that added flair and immersion to the game have been cut, largely due to the time required to implement them for the host of civilizations you can play as. For example, cut scenes that would show your agents and spies at work or a family tree of your ruling dynasty are gone. Many aspects of the game seem to lack the polish that CA's earlier, more focused titles seemed to revel in and this significantly impacts your ability to get immersed in your empire.
The strategy in the game (both on the battlefield and on the campaign map) are simpler and less interesting than they could be. There is oftentimes an obvious and clearly best choice for all of the moves that you make, which significantly reduces the fun factor. As others have lamented, the AI on the battlefield is not the best and is particularly spotty in naval and siege battles. Additionally, once you reach a certain point in your campaign your victory becomes all but assured and therefore boring. Other games in the series have attempted to combat this tendency by introducing large, world-changing events like a Hunnic or Mongolian invasion in Europe or political maneuvering in Japan. Rome's way of dealing with this is the introduction of a civil war system, but this isn't fleshed out and merely spawns a group of uninteresting units at your capital to quickly dispatch of.
Total War: Rome 2 lacks the polish, focus, and intrigue of past Total War games. It is not a BAD game, to be sure; there is still a lot of fun to be had conquering Africa as Egypt or Germany as the Gauls. However, what is most frustrating about Rome 2 is that it could have been so much more.
on January 12, 2014
I was looking forward to this game for months, but it only delivered disappointment.
The first issue is that the game does not recognize many common hardware configurations, so it will not use the graphics card or CPU efficiently. In fact, I can feel the heat output from my computer fan constantly when running the game, even if I let it sit for half an hour doing nothing, it keeps the GPU running at high power for no reason.
The second issue is that many of the infamous bugs from launch have not been fixed yet, even though the 8th patch has been released. I returned to the game today, only to see a boat sailing through the land during a battle. Meanwhile, the enemy army (which outnumbered me 5-to-1) would not attack, so I won the battle when it timed out after 20 minutes. This gets severely annoying when the opponent has 8 separate small armies running through your territory (see issue #3)
The third issue is that the computer enemy still cheats fantastically. I estimate that, even on a medium-high-ish difficulty, they are given at least double the resources. This allows them to create the numerous small armies that will all attack every single turn. You can easily beat these armies if you fight manually because the AI does not know how to fight, but that takes 20 minutes per battle (excluding loading time), and at 2 or 3 useless battles per turn you will get bored very quickly. I should add that recent patches have made the CPU capable of using any siege equipment that it brings - so now we have the benefit of watching the CPU simply decide not to use it. When Libya attacked my city of Rome their siege equipment was a total of 4 ladders, along with 8 troops of various types and 5 troops of reinforcements. When the battle started, one troop actually pushed the ladder up against the nearest wall, then they stood around it for a few minutes until my archery tower slowly killed them all. Another ladder was wheeled around a quarter of the city, across a bridge, and pushed against another wall. A few guys climbed up it, got killed by my infantry that had been waiting ages to finally fight, and then the enemy troops ran back down and away after loosing only 15 of their 80 men. The enemy's other troops never moved from their starting positions, except for the reinforcements from the opposite side of the map which walked around Rome's walls (getting picked off by archery towers the entire way) to join the main force. Then everyone waited for 5 more minutes until the battle timed out and I won.
The fourth issue, and the final one I will mention, is fundamentally flawed game mechanics. For example, I set an army to attack an enemy force in my territory, but the enemy was a bit too far so it needed to wait until the next turn. That is normal and the way the game should work. However, during the CPU turn, that enemy army approached my troops and AMBUSHED me - a completely unhidden enemy army moved and ambushed my troops 'mid-march' after my troops were done marching. Really??!! I would understand a hidden army being able to move and ambush. But since when could one military ambush another military that saw it coming?
There are countless other issues, but these four should illustrate just how bad the game still is. The developer has not fixed these issues, but they have released a Blood & Gore DLC, and a Caesar in Gaul DLC! So, you can spend an extra $20 on top of the $60 you have spent for a game that is still in an early beta stage.
**update February 5th, 2014:
Patch 9 was released over the last few days, and it contains a fix for the AMD switchable graphics issues. In short, this means that the game should now properly recognize and use the dedicated graphics cards in laptops that have an AMD card. For many, including myself, the game was using that GPU but it would not indicate that on the graphics options screen, and thus would lock the game to the lowest 2 settings options (low and medium), disabling the higher options. I ran the benchmark in the high setting (option 3 of 5) and the framerate was the same as in the medium setting - so, my computer was improperly limited to lower quality than it should have been. As a small software developer, I would never release software with a hardware compatibility problem like this. On the other hand, the game did not look noticeably better when using the High setting and had the exact same problems like texture popping. Texture popping is when an object's texture suddenly changes from a low-detail version (usually used when the object is far away) to a high-detail version, and the effect is that the details suddenly "pop up". When this happens on the game's single benchmark test, you can be assured that it will happen during all battles.
The graphics in this game are far from optimized. In my opinion, after patch 9 the game is in a state that I would call "releasable", but only by the standards of a small development studio with no budget remaining and rent due in two weeks.