Resurrection: Rome: Total War
Veni vidi vici…
Resurrection: Rome: Total War
It was all going so well. Africa stood no chance in the face of the might of the empire and it now dances to a jaunty Roman tune, lying dormant like the slain behemoth it is. Thousands were massacred while we stamped our authority onto them: rivers of their blood coursed down city streets, the dead stacked high while we tore down their palaces and built our own over the ruins. Rebellious at first, eventually they began to see sense. Strange how understanding people can become when staring down the blade that might end their life.
With the fruits of the African provinces feeding us we surged into Spain, a disease of military might infecting the coastline and spreading the influence of Rome further and further north. The campaign was not without tragedy however, the loss of our great leaders son to Neptune in a foolhardy naval mission sent waves rippling through the empire. The death of his favourite child and heir would prove too much to bear. He died heartbroken soon after, leaving house Scipii in the control of the runt of the litter, a man not to be trusted with the care of a horse, let alone an whole empire. It seems the gods plot against us, and dark times approach…
Back to reality
Ahem. Maybe that’s an extreme way to illustrate a point, but the sandbox nature of Rome allows the imagination to fill the gaps however you see fit.
Being the third of the litter in the Total War franchise and the first to embrace 3D infantry, Rome builds on the strategic depth of the prequels and is delightfully tarted up with superior graphics. A revolutionary game engine allowed for the simultaneous display of thousands and thousands of individual troops, something utterly awe inspiring when experienced for the first time. Watching cavalry cascade down a hillside into the exposed flanks of a barbarian horde while archers rain burning arrows upon their heads is a sight to behold. The sprites of earlier games, while effective at the time, look clumsy in comparison.
Even when zoomed in the action is intense. Swordsmen clash while the silhouette of your general riding horseback hangs over them, hacking away from above with reckless abandon. Seeing your leader, the man who presides over thousands of subjects, getting his hands dirty in combat is frankly awesome.
Battles range in difficulty from the trivial to the downright impossible. There’s no better feeling than that found when taking control of an army outnumbered and outgunned and somehow leading it to victory. You feel like a military mastermind, like Sun-Tzu reincarnate. Perhaps it gives you a dark insight into yourself too when you think that, rather than let them regroup to fight another day, it might be a better idea to slaughter every last remaining enemy soldier while they run for their lives.
The capacity to unlock barbarian factions and play the campaign with their limited resources adds a whole new dimension too. Whereas before you were the all powerful Romans, now you face the dominating strength that used to be your own and constantly run the risk of being steam-rolled into oblivion. It kind of makes you wonder what it might have been like for the people who actually stood in the way of the Romans. A barrel of laughs, no doubt.
Similarly to how the Roman Empire met its end, Rome: Total War suffers too due to over-expansion. The two add-on packs are a touch underwhelming in the face of how ground-breaking the vanilla game was. More of the same isn’t a bad thing, but bigger isn’t always better. I think I’m just complaining about nothing though, ’cause Rome: Total War is awesome.
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