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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.

Pros
- 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.

Cons
- 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.

Conclusion
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.
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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.
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on December 22, 2013
I have owned every Total War title since the first and I must say Rome 2 is the worst of them all. People look at the sales numbers (which are quite high not to mention all the awards it has earned) and question why I would say this. There is a perfectly good explaination...

The old Total War Vets like me were estatic when they announced Rome 2. The first Rome title was so popular and still is to this day thanks to game modifications by TW fans, that we all had high hopes that Creative Assembly (CA) would blow us away by taking the Rome 1 title and applying all the things learned over the past decade of TW titles. CA backed this up with their own PR hype and for what I can only describe as "false adversisement". What we got was not what was hoped or promised. Pre-sales were huge and day-1 purchases off the chart in anticipation.

Startup- Immediately upon starting the vanilla game, one could not shake the notion that somehow they loaded up one of their console games by mistake. Floating icons twirling over towns and cities (ala C.O.D), Units glowing when selected, lights shining down from heaven above anytime one of your armies has something happen to them, little whirlwinds following your units around on the map supposedly showing a faster movement rate, etc. I don't know about you but I play pc games for a reason, because I can't stand how console games look and play as if you are not intelligent enough to figure out things in a game yourself without ques.

Campaign Map- we all figured that with the beautiful map CA created in Shogun 2 that they would just carry that over to Rome 2... nope, not even close. The rome 2 map is so poorly made I think even with my limited artistic capabilities I could make a better representation of the Roman world. It looks like the map was cut out with absolutely no curves in the land masses at all. Right-angles galore! People have even said that the fan modified Rome 1 map looks better and represents a more accurate landmass than Rome 2! Use a search engine and look for images of Rome 1 and Rome 2 maps to compare for yourself.

Battle Mechanics- again, just taking Shogun 2 and re-wall papering it to the Roman era would have been awesome but for some reason, I think CA must have hired an all new design team from SEGA or something. It is the only excuse I can think of to expalin why I have capture points (more floating icons on the battle maps now) and victory points all over the place. Seriously, I was looking around for the "Power Up" and "Extra Ammo" boxes on the battlefield to go with this first person shooter... oh, that's right, this is a turn-based RPG. The Battle AI in Rome 2 has to be the worse I have ever seen. The huge cities you can fight within are neat but the AI is completely dumbfounded on how to use its siege engines, ladders, and WTH do I do with those Capture and Victory points? The AI will run its units straight through your forces in a mad dash to occupy the VPs without stopping to engage your troops! But wait, it gets far worse...

Campaign Mechanics- Economics = a joke. You cannot adjust the tax levels for individual towns anymore and you don't even need a single trade agreement to win the game. Political System = WTH? Has virtually no relation what-so-ever on the gameplay. You can win the game without ever opening the faction info panel. Religion = what religion? Religion used to be important in all the early TW games but has become less and less so over the past few games. In Rome 2 it is virtually gone and has no real impact on the game. Relations = broken. Relations between factions in the vanilla game don't work. Only with heavy modding will anyone want anything to do with your faction. You have war declared on you by factions you haven't even met yet!

I could go on but I think you get the gist. While I hold out hope that mods and patches by CA will fix some of this, changing the basic fundamentals of the series is what has destroyed this game. In CA's vision of making an epic game with as little micromanagement by the player as possible, they have killed what made these games so fun to play.

EDIT 23 Dec 2013- Post Patch 8: there have been 8 patches to this game since release and yet the basic flaws are still there. Some more issues I did not mention before are:

Transport Ships- this is a new feature CA came up with and it still has me scratching my head why they did it. All units are able to convert into "transport ships" when you have them walk over water. No other TW title has this feature and all of them (after fixing the amphibious assault bug in the early titles) didn't seem to have any issues getting from land mass to land mass. So why or why CA did you introduce something that completely negates any reason what-so ever to build naval ships? Recruiting a navy is a complete waste of money now when your troops can easily get from place to place safely on their own auto-transports that pop up out of nowhere. This has got to be the dumbest feature ever put into a TW game.

Food and Starvation- CA has set the amount of food consumption that each building level has so high that you can simply sit still and wait for the minor factions and even some major ones to starve to death and rebel. Next thing you know, the map is full of rebel factions. The AI simply cannot expand fast enough to build enough food producing buildings to survive. Even playing as Rome you have to set aside several building slots to food production or else even with all of Italy under your control, you can still starve. This can be modded to playable levels but why force the players to have to in the first place?

Natural Disasters- aren't really "natural" if they continue to occur every 4 or 5 turns. There are 2 towns in Italy that have earthquakes and floods so often you barely have time to repair the damage from the previous before another one occurs.

There is supposed to be a siege and AI patch coming and I may revisit this review when/if CA fixes some of this mess.
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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
- Seasons
- 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
- Culture
- 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
- Religion
- 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
- Diplomats
- 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."
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on October 31, 2013
This game was broken upon release. There are plenty of reviews that talk about all of the technical issues with AI and units staying together and poor textures, long wait times, etc. that still has yet to be fully addressed. However, the release of the DLC "Blood and Gore" today was the last straw for me. This is a game that inherently has blood and gore in it; all of the other games do... and now they are releasing something that should have already been in the game for $2.99 (not to mention all of the other "DLC" that SHOULD already be in the game). This to me is pitiful.

I have been playing since the first Shogun, but now I will never buy a Total War game again.
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on December 30, 2013
The words "steaming pile of feces" are thrown around a lot these days, but I've found only a few games that truly deserve the title. This, sadly, is one of those games.

First of all, the game mechanics are completely changed from the original RTW. Gone is the family tree. Gone is the ability to spy on a city. Gone is the ability to speed up a battle. Gone, too, are the speeches from the generals before the battles. The battles themselves play out just about the same, and you'll recognize some of the icons, but that's not nearly enough similarity.

Unfortunately, you'll probably never get to experience any of that. I've tried to play the game 10 times today, and have had 10 crashes. This on a machine that meets the minimum specs.

Worst of all, there is no possibility of a refund, so if you buy this piece of feces, you're stuck with it.

Buyer beware. The best thing about the game is the image of the box on Amazon's website.
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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.
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on October 18, 2013
I've played and enjoyed every total war game since the original shogun, and this one could have been the best yet. The scope is huge, and the factions are very unique to allow for a lot of replayability. When everything's working, the graphics are beautiful and the game can be a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of initial bugs with graphics, game speed, and AI in the campaign and battle maps. A lot of these have been fixed by subsequent patches, but it still needs work. They also removed and reworked some features, so the RPG aspect with characters is mostly pointless. They also eliminated the short campaign option, so the only way to win is put in 40 - 80 hours of mop-up work once victory is inevitable. If you're not a completionist, and don't mind quitting before you've officially won, I guess it's no big deal. Personally, it's turned the game into a chore. CA also added an internal politics system that is a mixture of tedious and meaningless.

There are video reviews that describe the issues better than I could, but the important thing to note is that you shouldn't buy this game. Wait for more patches to fix the game, and while you're at it, wait for the Gold Edition (or whatever they plan to call it) so that you get the DLC included.
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on October 2, 2013
As many people already said online, there are a lot of game-breaking bugs and issues (AI) in the game. Although they promised weekly patch, i highly doubt CA will fix anything seriously (Just like Empire days, it will get fixed in Napolean expansion).

I have owned every single Total war game since Shogun Total War (happened in last century). I am still a strategy game fan for Total war series. But this one is really not being well tested before release. Compared to Europa Universalias 4 that comes out at almost the same time, this game is really a shame.

No preorders anymore from CA!
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on September 4, 2013
Cant believe what a NIGHTMARE this game is,.After 100 hours of playing it I just gave up!,.It is the WORST of ANY Total War game period!,.
Controlling armies =difficult,
Loading a battle=time consuming
Leaving a battle=time consuming=
Waiting for computer turns=time consuming
Low viewpoint on main mapp=completely annoying
City management=confusing as hell
tutorial and in=game manual=horrible

I PROMISE I could go on and on and on and on and on, to as why this game is a virtual nightmare(and I didnt have any computer playing issues on high resolution!) Rome 2 is not what a REAL RPG player would ever want,.TOTALLY DISAPPOINTED in this mish mosh!
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