I suppose it’s because, like many others, my experience with Total War: Rome II, the 2013 turn-based strategy/real-time tactics video game from Creative Assembly (published by SEGA), has been mixed.
I don’t tell a lot of people this, but my interest in history began around the same time that I discovered Rome: Total War, the predecessor to this title, back in 2004.
I loved it. It fuelled my initial forays into the worlds of Plutarch, Thucydides and Xenophon; all the Classical world opened up to me, and I discovered a deeper understanding of everything that was around me because I suddenly could see how everything had been.
Unfortunately, when the game released in September last year, the results were…well, underwhelming for a lot of the people.
I didn’t play the game when it first came out, so I can’t speak to just how “broken” it was at the outset. I only came to the party after it had been significantly patched, and with a few DLCs under its belt (‘Hannibal at the Gates’ and ‘Caesar in Gaul’). It wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm that I stayed away for so long; rather, I needed time to upgrade my PC (and pay for said upgrade!), since the system requirements were rather hefty (which turned out to be one of the more common complaints about the game).
Even so, my first impressions were not great. There were four other Total War titles between Rome and Rome II (Medieval II, Empire, Napoleon, Shogun II), so it’s only natural that things would have evolved, changed, and hopefully, improved.
But the game I discovered was not the same as the game I had loved. And it has taken some time for this new experience to win me over.
It has done so now. But that’s not to say Total War: Rome II is perfect. There are lot of features that have grown on me though, and part of my new-found appreciation has to do with the newly released ‘Emperor Edition’, the supposed definitive version of the game that includes the new campaign scenario ‘Imperator Augustus’.
There are still weird bugs and glitches – but even Rome: Total War had those. And Total War: Rome II is many times more complicated than its predecessor. But the complexity begins to look more and more like depth, once you master the basics.
At the end of the day, it’s the sense of immersion the game produces that wins the day for me – feeling like you’re in charge of an army on some ancient battlefield, facing impossible odds, with only you and the men (and women, now that the ‘Daughters of Mars’ DLC is out) under your command standing between the enemy and the destruction of your civilisation…
That’s what I paid for.
And despite everything, that’s what I got.
Verdict: Roma Victor!