I consider myself an amateur historian when it comes to anything Roman. From the era of the seven kings, to the Republic, to the rise and fall of the Empire, Rome has been in my blood for twelve years, dominating my book shelves and TV screen. So, it is no doubt that one of my favorite games of all time, one which I still play nearly every day is Rome: Total War.
Revealed a few months ago, developer, The Creative Assembly, showed fans a taste of the upcoming sequel with a splendid live action trailer, showing more humanity in characters and the struggle between the orders than any of the previous Total Wars games have in the past. But, that isn’t to say that the original game was perfect.
Here are a few things I hope the developers do right the second time around that would have drastically improved the original Rome: Total War.
With over a thousand years of history, Rome was filled with some of the most exciting individuals to ever grace any single nation. Countless wars, uprisings and civil wars stand even today as convenient subjects in military academies around the world and yet, despite all this, the original Rome: Total War featured no central story or focus on any particular historical figure. Sure you can fight Spartacus at one point of the game but other historical characters and famed battles were absent such as, but not limited to, Hannibal, Mithridatis, Philip and Vercingetorix. All are well known adversaries of Rome during the Republic period.
Now that the game is moving into the Imperial era, I have hopes that the new game will finally bring in some of the great collection of historical figures, enemies and leaders that led Rome to its prominence and eventual downfall.
The original Rome: Total War featured naval combat but it was handled by the AI. We’ve seen how good naval warfare can be in Empire: Total War. I would love to see firsthand how warships of antiquity duked it out: biremes and triremes crashing into one another, marines swelling over the sides to storm enemy ships, Greek fire in full effect as entire fleets are set ablaze and, of course, famed navel sieges such as the Battle of Syracuse. Managing sailors, marines and slaves onboard ships could be an interesting challenge to say the least, alongside missions to put an end to pirates, such as the feat that Pompey the Great had accomplished, to exploring new lands never before seen by Roman eyes.
Let me actually play as Rome!
The first Rome: Total War did not put players in command of a Roman legion, but instead you sided with one of three promenade Roman families: The Julii, the Brutii, and the Scorpii. Each family was well known, although, they all did not come to power at the same time. Only the Julii represented, in my opinion the true Roman red. But, each faction took orders from Rome, which acted as an independent faction. This got very annoying when Senate demanded players to attack friendly nations, or eventually called for the execution of your best generals when your faction became too powerful. But, if I’m going to play a Roman game, then by the gods, I want to play as Rome! Thankfully, mods created from Rome: Total War, such as the fabulous Total Realism places Rome as the sole faction, but it is Total War that needs to follow suit.
No retreat, no surrender
One of the more annoying aspects of the previous game was the fact that enemy troops panicked and retreated far too easily. Just when a battle was at its best, whole armies just pull back and run for the hills for no reason. This throws last minute strategies and heroics out the window. It doesn’t take too long for players to figure out the best approach to handling every battle – forcing the enemy from the field, while barely losing a single man in battle. I hope the sequel does away with this and allows real tactics take hold.
Bigger, better and more epic
The Total War series has always had some epic battles, featuring hundreds of units on screen at one time but with a more powerful engine it has already been said that Rome: Total War 2 will be the most dynamic entry to the series to date. There is no doubt in my mind that The Creative Assembly won’t pull this feature off without any hitch but I’m hoping that they truly capture some of the monumental and colossal struggles that sets Roman history apart from most nations in modern or ancient history. Always outnumbered it was not uncommon for Rome’s legions to be pitted against Pontiac, Carthaginian or Germanic troops that vastly outnumber the legions 3 to 1. Defeat was nothing new to Rome, but, regardless of the scale of their adversaries, Rome’s army was renowned for pulling off some of the most amazing military victories in history. It would be great to see these battles replayed and instead of being solo affairs, I hope the battles and wars that Rome fights will be interconnecting – moving from naval warfare to inland struggles and finally sieges. Let players see the scope of ancient warfare firsthand.
Let the names be known
Rome and those that occupied the Roman world featured some of history’s most celebrated individuals who are still studied to this day across the world. During any particular year in Roman history, home or abroad there is a list of who’s-who that transcends time. I sincerely hope that just a few of these names: Scipio, Hannibal, Caesar, Crassus, Pompey, Philip, Antony, Cleopatra, Augustus and many more are featured in one form or another in Rome: Total War 2.
Multiplayer is great, but don’t let it take over the game
One of the biggest beefs I have with modern developers is their obsessive need to push the single player campaign to the wayside, and focus heavily on multiplayer. We’ve seen this happen in Call of Duty, Ghost Recon, Warcraft, Assassins Creed, and Halo. I love multiplayer as much as the next guy snfI know that development is expensive, but still, don’t abandon the single player experience to stretch out a few months worth of online game play.
Rome: Total War, as fun as it was, is little more than a sandbox of army figures fighting one another for control of a massive board. Yes, there is tons of economical struggles (one player could go mad trying to keep the plebs happy, but when all was said and done, there was no actual end to the game. Once you conquered 50 regions, you were king of the world with no more aspirations to take over the rest of the map. If you did decide to lay claim to the whole world, when all was red and only your banner stood proud, that was it – just a simple pop-up signalling that you had no one left to fight – a sad day indeed. I hope, however, with Rome: Total War 2 there is more focus on creating a true single player experience that has a proper ending, whether it is the Fall of the Roman Empire, or an alternate history. I would be happy. But as long as it was something that showed that all my hard fought battles were worth something.
In the end, I have mile high hopes for Rome: Total War 2. It seems from what I’ve read so far that The Creative Assembly is sparing no expense to make this the best the Total War franchise has ever delivered.
Expect Rome: Total War 2 sometime in 2013.
Stay tune to OWNT for more updates as we get them.