on September 28, 2005
The Total War community has given a lot of feedback to the developers on the improvements they would like to see. I'd say pretty much all of the biggies were addressed and added in Barbarian Invasion. Rome: Total War is hands down one of my all-time favorites and a game I can still pickup and play again and again.
There is a lot of upgraded features you would expect from an expansion...little better graphics, upgraded units and increased functionality. The upgrades to the AI are the most noticeable, in my opinion.
The Total War community waited over a year for this to be released and it is readily apparent the developers spent this time to deliver an outstanding expansion. The price tag is definately worth it as well. The time period for the expansion is set in the declining years of the Roman Empire so basically you are getting a whole new game with this expansion.
The new game element rearranges the map to take into account what has happened historically in the last three hundred years. The Roman Empire is split between west and east and all the old factions from Rome:Total War have been assimilated into the Roman Empire. An interesting historical note when the game begins for the Eastern Roman Empire is the Faction Leader Valens. His defeat against the Goths was considered a milestone in the decline of the Roman Empire (for both halves). Not only was his army defeated, but the Emperor Valens was also killed. Oh and the Goths will come for you...Oh yes, they will come.
The Parthians have been surplanted by the Sassanid Empire in the east, but essentially all the old factions have become roman provinces. Basically, it's the barbarian factions battling it out for the choice pieces of real estate.
The new expansion is noticeably harder depending on which faction you play. The Western Roman Empire is by far the most difficult which took a great deal of time to beat. Why is it so difficult? Barbarian factions with a few exceptions don't die when you take their last city - they become a Horde. This is challenging in that you can't just move through and conquer cities to annihilate the Huns, Vandals, Sarmatians,etc. You need to not only conquer all their cities but kill every single family member in order to wipe the faction from the map or they will just keep spawning as new Hordes. You must fight them out in the open which pits you against their horse archers. As you play you will find different strategies on dealing with them, but needless to say it's very fun and challenging. My personal method is the very liberal use of assassins and fortifying cities while I pick apart their horde until I get their family members eliminated.
Bottomline - 5 out of 5 and highly recommended no matter what game genre you typically lean towards. You won't regret it.
on September 30, 2005
I won't go so far as to say that this is an all new game, it isn't, but it is a welcome expansion to the first game which I had continued to play regularly right up to the release of BI.
Rome players who are unfamiliar with the later historical period of BI may be puzzled by the differences on the map, but rest assured, Creative Assembly have done a bit of homework in designing this game. The cities that have disappeared off the map from the earlier game are indeed gone because those cities had ceased to exist by that point due to wars, plagues and economic upheaval.
A good companion piece to this game would be Edward Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" - A damned good read.
Graphics in this game are similar to the original. THis game is not an expansion in that sense. I have a DEll XPS with a 256mb PCi express card from Nvidia that allows me to set the unit sizes to huge. Still, I have in the past turned down certain graphics options to ward off slowing during particularly epic battles. Slower systems may still be able to handle this game, but only with many graphics options and unit sizes paired down.
on October 21, 2005
I will admit that this game is hard. My first two attempts at playing the Western Roman Empire didn't go so well. I'm on my second attempt at the Saxons, and I have finally caught on.
In fact, my first attempt at playing the Saxons, I got on a ship to take out the Western RE's hold on the British Isles. After taking the two towns in the south, it triggered a horde of Romano-British to come and like the story/movie of King Arthur, they whooped me, lol. This time I have taken the few rebel controlled cities next to me, made some alliances, and have been fighting with the Romans. The Huns have not made it to me yet, but the civilizations they have dispossessed from their lands are starting to come my way... This should get real interesting!
This game is a lot of fun. I love the new units, different technologies, and the better AI. The new campaign map is very well thought out. Frankly, I am enjoying this even more than RTW itself.
It feels like a whole new game rather than an expansion. I highly recommend it, especially if you liked the original. Just remember, that some of the Civilizations are easy, moderate, or hard difficulties. It will let you know when you go to choose your starting civ. You may want to start on easy the first time.... :D
on September 27, 2005
A few fans got the game early and have been able to put RTW:BI through its paces. They have confirmed that the dreaded AI "reassessment" feature that crippled the original game has been fixed in the expansion. Everyone who played the original owes it to themselves to pick up the expansion for this reason alone, never mind the great improvements to battle AI, the addition of night battles, and the chance to pit yourself against the Huns. I was one of the first to criticize RTW for its failings, now it's right that I should be one of the first to praise BI.
on December 25, 2005
Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion is an excellent addition to an already excellent game. It expands the gameplay from Rome Total War from the Republic's Civil Wars to the invasions of the Barbaric tribes from the north. Play to destroy the empire as the Huns, Goths, Franks, or more civilized Sassanids or play to perserve the empire, as either the Western or Eastern Roman Empires. The game has also been improved by including religion. As Christianity sweeps across the Roman World, you will find that new power struggles and religious revolts spring up across the previously 100% pagan landscape. Generals also have a loyalty rating that ascribes their likelyhood to rise up in revolt. Couple these new features with the supreme Total War military engine (which has actually been used by the History Channel to recreate battles) and you have a wonderful military simulator. Of course, if your preference is for peaceful citybuilding, you'll have a harder time with this game. For more peaceful players interested in Roman times, I recommend looking at Caesar III or Civilization IV instead. But for those more interested in the military aspect of Classical History, this is as close to the real thing as you are going to get.
on October 8, 2005
Same game but much better. The extension represents a new challenge to players who became serial winners at RTW. It adds a new level of complexity to RTW, seven centuries later, during the sheer decline of the Roman Empire (the game logo is rusty and cracked...).
Graphics are better: more realistic, richer and stable. Sound track is the same, but the red-ish transitional pictures are now in gothic style. However, AI is only slightly smarter, and still makes irrational decisions both at the diplomatic and battlefield levels.
There are main differences in the game itself. Societies and city landscape have changed; and religion now plays a more important role in keeping social order (with Christianity, Paganism and Zoroastrism). It is more complex thus to manage public order. The extension emphasizes individual generals and warlords who now enjoy more attributes (such as personal religion, nocturnal fighting skills, loyalty, and charismatic weapons). Another main difference is nomadic troops: you can win a settlement and loot it without occupying it, otherwise military units of this specific type will disband and join the local population.
This is not another patch, but a new level of game experience and complexity. It is a bit of a shame that one has to spend over $60 to get both RTW and BI, but it is well worth it if you are a big fan of RTW.
on May 25, 2006
I started playing this series with Shogun and it has been my favorite ever since. The only disappointment was Medieval, with its endless whack-a-mole rebellions in the end phases.
In terms of mechanics, Barbarian Invasions isn't that different from Rome, except for the need to manage religious affiliations and the difficulty of increasing leaders' Command ability through battle successes. It is different in the historical context as we move from an up-and-coming Rome to a dying empire. I think that neither period are what we best "know" Rome for, which would probably be early Empire, circa Caesar or Augustus (50 BC - 100 AD).
The Total War series is almost unique in combining deep turn based strategic and economic management with real time tactical battles. Each aspect complements the other quite well, though the battle engine is the true jewel. The tactics, terrain, units and the rendering are just amazing. I generally find the strategic level more challenging throughout, because tactical battles become easier and easier as you upgrade your troops and they gain experience. Once you know your way around the solo campaign game, you can stretch out your investment by switching factions, playing historical battles (warning: only 2 of those in BI!) or play online.
My only criticism, at the strategic level, is Rome's unrest bias against large urban populations (inherited from Civ?), combined with the attractiveness of systematically exterminating cities to fill your coffers. My favorite strategy in Rome involves pulling troops out of a rioting city, making it easier for the city to revolt, then besiege and exterminate it. Which results in me collecting lots and lots of gold during the sack. Afterwards, depopulated cities are very loyal and have huge cashflows. That's an odd way to manage economies and feels morally repugnant as well. But it works :-)
Rome: BI is quite stable on my recent system which is a mid-power laptop, despite (because?) it not having been patched. Could other reviewers be experiencing instability due to older Windows installs?
Fans of Rome Total War would do well to give serious attention to this expansion set. In the best tradition of expansions, Barbarian Invasion offers new challenges and twists to players grown jaded. By moving the game forward a few centuries to the early Christian era, players can enjoy playing new factions, such as the Huns, as well as playing Eastern or Western Rome. Also a major plus, the designers have improved mightily on AI, so the game no longer makes serious mistakes, like not launching counter attacks as you advance and not exploiting obvious player weaknesses. Indeed, if you tired of Rome Total War because you got bored playing circles around the AI and simply mopping up to achieve victory conditions, this represents a whole new game.
On the less positive side, the game now incorporates religion into play. On the whole this offers intriguing possibilities to the player, forcing you to deal with a major social force in the period, competing faiths. While designers did a good job, incorporating the impact of important characters and geography, in a few crucial ways they made mistakes. Cities, all of which have official faiths, never change those faiths. Thus, a pagan city where the entire population is Christian after 100 game years remains a pagan city. The people revolt because there are no churches, and the player can only sit and pound the table. Forums on the game hash out this issue ad nausea, but in the end it is simply ham handed, frustrating, and offers an excellent opportunity for a patch.
Despite such foibles, BI represents a major challenge. Any Rome Total War fan will certainly derive a great many hours of new challenging play from this excellent expansion.
on October 4, 2005
After waltzing through numerous Rome: Total War campaigns with every faction, playing this was a humbling experience. It is hard, super hard. Which is a good thing in my opinion. I like the feeling of just delaying the enevitiable defeat when playing as either of the Rome's, but it should be worse. The rest of Europe is a complete mess, with huge hordes running into each other lands changing hands frequently.
The negatives are the graphics and skins. The skins are almost "team colored", to make it easier to distinguish who is who on the battlefield but it has sort of an overly bright cartoony feel to it, but this should be easily modded given time. Some of the units have incomplete models, missing a leg or half an arm here and there, also something easily fixable. The other features religion and night battles have only a moderate impact on the game. Religion causes more headaches strategy wise than it solves, and night battles are nothing all that special after the initial wow factor wears off. The horde function adds a whole new layer to gameplay.
Many people, including myself, have suffered huge lag with the game, I'm glad I did a second install exclusively for the expansion pack as not only does my first install of RTW not suffer from slowdowns, but savegames are not compatable.
If you liked the first game and are interested in the period, get it for sure.
on October 24, 2006
This expansion pack is much more historically accurate than the original game, but really, not much has changed since then.
The original game covers the Roman Republic, from 270 BC (when Rome totally dominated the Italian peninsula) to 14 AD (when Augustus dies, Rome's empire greatly expanded)
In this expansion pack, it takes you WAY ahead in the future, to the waning years of the Empire, where Rome is split in two, the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire, with Christianity the moving force in the east, and barbarian invasion in the north a constant threat to all factions
New features in the game include totally new factions, with the only remaining factions from the original being the Romans (with their army looking and playing completely differently). Totally new army and fighting styles, whether it be with the primarily horse-faring Huns, the mixed-bag of legionaries and mercenaries of the Western Roman Empire, or the vast variety of the Sassanid Empire with their cataphracts, camels, archers, and spearmen.
Some other new features include:
- Night fighting: You can now fight in the night-time (but only if your general has the ability). This is very VERY useful if you are attacking an army that has reinforcements. Attacking them by night cuts off their reinforcements, as they are not expecting it at that time.
- General's loyalty: This is apparently only a Roman feature, in which a new trait is available just beneath Management, and above Influence, in which the number of rings indicate the general's loyalty. Disloyal generals can revolt against you!
- New faction-spawn triggers: When a certain year rolls around, a sect of a faction can break away to form a completely new faction (ie, the Romano-British in Britannia, the Ostrogoths or Visigoths from the Goths, etc) as well as rebellion triggers for the Romans and other factions
- Sacking settlements, becoming nomadic: Many of the barbarian factions start out without any settlements, instead with fully stacked armies (mostly just peasants given weapons) making them essentially nomadic. In this way, as the Huns, for example, you can rage through the lands simply sacking settlements and taking their gold rather than settling down. However, if you lose any of your family members, you're dead
and many other minor changes, including vastly improved AI. Some of these features have been added into original Rome Total War as well (such as night fighting)
All in all, it's an impressive expansion pack, but not quite worth the amount of money it was labeled as. Considering that more than half of the factions are all barbarians (which in my eyes, look pretty much all alike) and the new features aren't as ground-breaking or totally new as say, Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge. Still, it is a worthy addition, and also the target of totally new mods!