Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Very detailed and fun to watch...
on March 11, 2010
The Good. The 13 battles which are selected as truly decisive battles, not just for the people who fought them, but for Western Civilization. The battles of Marathon, Gaugamela, and Thermopylae, to name a few, molded our world and made us what we are today. The use of Rome: Total War to help explain and explore the battles is really brilliant. Instead of six or seven reactors, wearing the wrong equipment, fighting in the fog you get to see the huge formations fighting over a landscape designed to look like the real environment at the time the battle was fought. Some of the camera angles are pretty well thought out - sometimes you get a bird's point of view and sometimes the camera seems to be peeking over the shoulder of a soldier, giving you the view from the front lines. Mathew Settle is even placed in some of the battles, his scaled down body standing next to the marching computer troops as he describes their equipment, abilities and skills. And as for the milling around action that many complain about? Well, that did happen in combat. Troops who are trapped, without leadership or direction, can become confused and scared. And they panic.
The Bad. In some of the battles, instead of the video game scenes aiding us in understanding the action it sometimes makes things worse. Example, in the episode called Ramses II, the Egyptians trap some of the Hittite's chariots within their camp. The Egyptian bowmen start to open fire on the milling enemy. Suddenly we have a scene where the Hittite chariots are all in neat, well ordered lines and as the arrows come down they die in neat, nice, well ordered lines. Not only the crew and the horses, but the chariots too! When a unit dies the wheels fall off, making for a very silly death scene. Yet seconds before they were a confused mob of chariots trapped by tents and Egyptian ground troops. It just took away from the moment.
In another battle, in the episode Hail Caesar!, we have Caesar and Pompey fighting each other. One of the points made during the episode was that both sides had to have passwords, because they couldn't tell each other apart - one of the problems in fighting a Civil War in which everybody used the same equipment. But in the battle shown, both armies had different COLORS! No doubt the game would not allow both sides to each wear red, but it still is seemed a tad strange.
The Very Good. I really did enjoy the extras. One is Foot Soldier: The Greeks, hosted by Richard Karn. While some scenes seem a tad silly, the overall information given about Greek soldiers was very interesting and, in some cases when dealing with camp followers and battle medicine, very mature. I would even suggest watching this special before you watch any of the episodes on Greek warfare. I plan, in fact, to try to find this series, to see what they say about the Romans, Egyptians and other soldiers of history.
The other special, Ancient Mysteries: The Secret Life of King Ramses II, was also very useful in that it helped us understand the true importance of the battle in which he stopped the Hittites from expanding south. It does a very good job in explaining his life, goals, and skills as a leader. Hosted by Leonard Nimoy.
If you want more details on ancient warfare, I would suggest the following books.
First start off with The Greco-Persian Wars, then I would read The Generalship Of Alexander The Great (Da Capo Paperback) and finish off with Roman Warfare (Smithsonian History of Warfare). Two other, more general books on war would be A History of Warfare and Ancient Warfare.