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Rome: Total War Preview
developer: Creative Assembly
P1000, 256MB RAM, 300MB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Sep 22, 04 (released)
|» All About Rome: Total War on ActionTrip|
"While stands the Colosseum, Rome shall stand.
When falls the Colosseum, Rome shall fall.
And when Rome falls -- the World."
Creative Assembly, a competent and recognized development team stormed the gaming industry a few years ago with the excellent strategy game, Shogun: Total War. Soon after that they unleashed a sequel - Medieval: Total War. Standing out as one of the best epic strategies on the market, Medieval steadily became a much-adored game by RTS fans all over the globe, receiving considerable critical acclaim. After that, the developers did not hesitate to contrive an expansion pack, entitled Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion, which naturally, takes players back to Medieval Times - 793AD to be more precise. Continuing this relatively strong pace, Creative Assembly now sets out to enhance the strategy genre with another attempt to improve its highly praised franchise. And so, Rome: Total War was born.
Soldiers of Rome, what we do in life, echoes in eternity!
But, the danger to the cavalry... is acceptable. Agreed?
Ever since the game was announced back in January, we were itching to have a taste of it and see what new improvements were brought to the genre. Part of the game was shown in action at the E3 this year and we were pretty surprised to witness how much the game improved visually. All units were thoroughly detailed and fully rendered, which completely changes the aspect of the grand scale conflicts (particularly when you zoom in on the action). But, that's not all. This time around the developers worked a great deal to re-enhance the gameplay structure and bring even more depth to the whole epic experience.
Set in a turbulent period of the Roman Empire, the game covers a number of significant historical events that create ample opportunity for epic battle scenes. Beginning some time around 300 BC, slightly before the Punic Wars, Rome: Total War will spread all the way to the end of the Civil Wars. In short, players are going to experience Rome's battles against Carthage, Caesar's offensive on Gaul, and Pompey the Great's intense battles against Alexander the Great's successors in the East...
We all know that there are copious amounts of strategy games that tell the tale of the deep-rooted history of the Roman Empire. Some gamers may therefore be misguided into thinking it's futile to get involved in yet another Rome-inspired strategy. Such line of reasoning would be way off. Judging from what we've observed thus far, the game has a concept that simply cannot disappoint. Rome: Total War sets the gameplay bar higher then any of its predecessors, offering a completely authentic representation of Roman units, buildings, and weapons. Of course, that's merely the beginning... The great political turmoil that engulfed the Roman Empire at the time, provided a great foundation for factions which players can choose to fight with. We still cannot corroborate exactly how many factions will be present in the final version of the game, but for the moment, we are certain that gamers are going to have three playable Roman political factions to choose from. Some factions represent influential Rome families, while others include several Barbarian factions such as Britons, Germans, and Gauls. Picking the right faction must be done with care and consideration. For instance, if the player decides to join the Roman Senate, he will have almost all the power within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, but very little influence outside it. Anyhow, other factions will also be present, such as the Carthaginians along with their allies the Spanish, Egyptians, Parthians, and Greek successor kingdoms of Alexander (plus a few independent Greek factions such as the Dacians and Spartans). Altogether, around 21 factions will make an appearance in the game.
Players who are familiar with the Total War series will be happy to know that the developers have worked hard to re-design the strategic part of the game. The segment of the game that's used for battle planning now features a complete view of the terrain, with the option of zooming in - as opposed to an earlier flat version of the map. In this new tactical part of the game, you can move your troops from one location to another and easily plan out your attacks. Using such a detailed depiction of the land before the battle, gives players a chance to organize a more advanced tactical approach, taking the maximum advantage of the terrain situated within a particular province. Once troops clash with each other on the battlefield (real-time), they will be able to move any where they want - in other words, none of the areas in which fighting takes place will be restricted! This way the developers mean to achieve a streamlined atmosphere, maintaining the action and excitement throughout each and every scenario. During each campaign, you may set certain cities to function automatically, simply by allowing governors to control stuff like detail of taxation, manufacturing, and military training.
Lookie here, a Roman St. Patrick's Day parade!
Rome a victor!
The best part of the game is that no matter which faction you choose, you won't be obliged to follow a strict path. Quite simply, a player may take a rest from the main campaign scenarios any time he wants during the game. So, there's a certain degree of freedom that the players are allowed as they progresses throughout game. Battles are somewhat different than in previous Total War games. Instead of just fighting on huge and open battlefields, you can make use of your artillery, siege weapons, and other fruits of Roman's mighty warfare, to besiege powerful fortresses and attack huge cities. Catapults, fire-arrows, battering rams, siege towers, and assault ladders are all there to help you conquer strong enemy fortifications. Still, you're not always obliged to take the aggressive course of action. More options were added to the diplomatic model, so now you can negotiate and settle on various trade and diplomatic offers more easily than ever before.
Factions have all been classified according to their historical counterparts. You'll notice that each faction has several unique characteristics and a variety of different units. Rome: Total War includes a very impressive amount of new units - actually, Creative Assembly recently revealed that the number of units surpassed 100. Roman forces, for example, were strengthened with elite Legionnaires, Greeks are usually seen with a huge number of pikemen and hoplites within their ranks, while the Carthaginians receive the support of Hannibal and his famous War Elephants. Not all units fit into your regular army ranks. Some mercenary units can be hired as reinforcements - such are the Scythian Archers, which will of course have to compensated for their assistance with cash.
As you may have noticed, the graphics stand as the main improvement over previous Total War titles. One of the most important innovations here is that each and every unit on the battlefield is fully rendered and animated with an effective motion capture technique. Epic scenes will look more impressive now, since there will be up to 20,000 highly detailed units on the screen at once - holy cow, imagine that! For the present, the crew at Creative Assembly have confirmed that game successfully runs on a P3-600, with a 16MB 3D card - and, according to recent updates, certain parts of the game have demonstrated better performance than Medieval. This is really spectacular to behold, especially when you zoom into the midst of battle (which you'll be able to do easily, thanks to the improved camera). The developers were quite determined to make battle seem realistic, so now it's possible to actually see things like soldiers fighting on the backs of chariots, powerful cavalry units ramming into a mass of unfortunate infantry units, soldiers scaling massive walls with gigantic ladders, etc. Next to all of these enhancements, a lot of work was poured into the new interface, which is now more flexible and straightforward for genre newbies and more involving for the Total War hardcore crowd.
A similarly meticulous approach in the creation of the sound. The soundtrack will feature a set of new epic music themes, which will surely be a crucial part of the entire in-game atmosphere. One particularly interesting fact about the sound is that the development team sampled over 400 voiceovers for each culture (which is quite a lot you have to admit)...
Multiplayer fans should be excited to learn that they will be able to enjoy epic battles in LAN or internet modes (which will allow up to 8 players simultaneously). Very nice indeed.
After all that we've learned up to now, it's safe to say that it would be a shame to pass this one up when it comes out. Sadly, we don't know exactly when this will occur, but Activision and Creative made it clear that Rome: Total War is aimed for a 2003 release. Be ready for additional announcements soon...
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