In just under a month the geniuses at the Creative Assembly will finally unleash their latest behemoth in the legendary Total War series.
Whereas the most recent title Shogun 2 was something of an exercise in consolidation and refinement of a series which had overstretched itself, Rome 2 promises to unleash the full potential of the rebuilt game engine on a unprecedented grand scale. Featuring more provinces than ever, more factions, more soldier types, more battle variants, naval warfare combined with land battles, famous cities recreated historically… it all gets a bit too much for a history geek to take in without bleeding out of every orifice in excitement.
As the bastard hours tick by at a painlessly slow rate we take a look at everything we know so far about this classic in the making and try to imagine being locked in a dark room for hours on end with nothing but Total War ancient world style for company…
Creative assembly are renowned for their gob smacking trailers which make use of the always graphically stunning game engine. Although these tend to show the game engine in an overly scripted cinematic fashion which can never truly be recreated in game, they are non-the-less the perfect way of showcasing the scale, visuals and new features…
As Rome’s legions sack Carthage we can see the seamless combination of naval warfare with land and siege battles in this early footage.
Emperor Augustus cries about his legions in battle of Teutoberg Forrest:
This expanded play through of the battle of Teutoberg Forrest demonstrates the improved dynamics of ambushes and a new style of scripted set piece battle. Its also interesting to note that the game covers a long era of history; from the fall of Carthage to the latter years of Augustus’s reign: at least 150 years!
This demonstration of the Battle of the Nile showcases a battle fought on land and sea between Rome and Egypt:
This trailer uses a unique and unexpected blend of cut-scene drawn from the game engine mixed with gameplay to showcase the wide range of strategy available to the player in Total War games:
The campaign map is glorious:
Yes it doesn’t stretch all the way to India, into China, or off into the north pole. But with an unprecedented 173 regions to conquer, stretching from Portugal to Afghanistan, and Britain to Arabia, it would take the most cuntish of internet comment botherers to find reason to complain (yet they still do). Check it out for yourself with this neat interactive map:
The full list of playable factions is enough to make a grown man sneeze out of his penis.
Rome itself makes a surprising appearance, with 3 patrician houses to choose from and to compete against for leadership of the republic before establishing yourself as Emperor (depending on how much of a bastard you intend to be) with a similar system available for their arch rivals Carthage. Exotic Kingdoms such as Egypt, Macedonia, Pontus and Parthia are spread across the vast and resource rich eastern areas, and will have to build huge empires to face the inevitable expansion of Rome/Carthage from the West. In the cold north are the barbarian tribes the Iceni (British), Suebi (Germanic), and Arveni (Gauls) who can form barbarian confederacies to help repel invasion from the more advanced superpowers.
Also announced is the Greek culture pack DLC available for free if you pre-order the game before release, promising a more difficult challenge. Of interest to cinema fans will be the option to play as the brutal Spartan warriors made popular by the film 300 (though historically past their legendary prime in this game), while the historically pivotal city of Athens, and Epirus (Pyrrhus of “Pyrrhic victory” fame) are also available to unite the Greek world under their yoke.
CA have also announced the additional free faction the Seleucid Empire, a fan favourite from the first game, and integral Middle Eastern power, available in October. If that wasn’t enough the first paid for DLC pack will be released around the same time including 3 eastern nomadic tribes: Royal Scythian, Roxolani, and the Massagetae. Not exactly big names but the Scythian’s are oft noted for their fierce warriors, and their nomadic nature of these tribes should add a whole new dynamic to the game.
In total that is an impressive 12 playable factions on release with another free in October and 3 more if you are willing to pay, bringing the roster so far to 15. CA have promised that unlike previous games each faction will have a distinctive style and strategic approach, adding to the replay appeal, and there will surely be more to come. Expect Spanish tribes, Thracians, Dacians, and some more Eastern Kingdoms as future DLC.
Impressive actor Mark Strong (Layer Cake, Kick Ass, Body of Lies) will lend his voice:
The Creative Assembly care dearly about their fans:
Being an ungodly combination of self proclaimed history buffs and demanding gamers, a certain section of the Total War fans are notoriously hard to please and quick to stamp their feet in a strop, which makes it all the more staggering just how much energy the Creative Assembly devotes to entertaining and informing its community. Having released insanely detailed panoramic shots, cinematic trailers, ‘lets play’ glimpses, faction details, insightful interviews, and countless screenshots, the developers are doing their level best to torture fans who can barely contain their excitement. It’s difficult to think of a developer which cares so much for its community. CA, we salute you…