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Rome: Total War is an incredible strategy game developed by The Creative Assembly and released in 2004. It effortlessly blew the competition out of the water with an astounding level of depth, superb visuals, quality sound and incredibly addictive game-play which had thousands of gamers glued to their PC’s deep into the night. Taking on the role of one of the great Roman houses the aim was to build an empire and conquer all in your path for ultimate glory.
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This is an incredibly detailed game with a host of features and some of the best game-play ever created. It is divided into an overview map screen which features turn-based strategy gaming and individual battles featuring real-time strategy gaming. This clever blend makes Rome: Total War a genuine leap forward in the genre. The same split was apparent in former Total War titles but for Rome they completely overhauled the turn-based map screen and created something with far more options, depth and visual quality.
On the map screen you can cycle through your cities and queue up troops or buildings to construct. There is a wide range of buildings available in an expanding menu which grows as you develop. In order to succeed a careful balance between economic development and military development is required. You can also construct a wide range of troops and all the options are historically accurate and include information about their abilities and purposes. You can collect troops together under commanders and lead them to attack opposing armies or siege rival cities by clicking on them on the overview map. Once they arrive and battle is due to commence you enter into the real-time strategy portion of the game.
After a brief load a cut scene introduces each battle and with your commanders rousing speech out of the way you take command of the troops. Each of the battlefields is extremely detailed and you can zoom in and out and spin around for any view you desire. The scale is fantastic and battles can involve thousands of units.
The tactical depth is extremely satisfying and use of terrain, troop formation and timing are all vital components if you want to win a famous victory. The AI is drastically improved over previous iterations and will give a decent challenge on the higher difficulty settings. As well as open battles between opposing armies you can lead attacks on cities using a range of siege equipment, although a good commander can hold a city with far fewer numbers if he uses his troops wisely.
The main campaign is an epic challenge in which you have to conquer 50 provinces including Rome itself. Different factions usually have additional cities that they are expected to hold. Once you conquer a nation in the game that faction becomes available to you from the main menu so you are not limited to playing as Roman factions and the other nations offer a completely different challenge which is fantastic for replay value.
Your faction is ruled by a family and members of your family develop personality traits, skills and weaknesses which you can check via their individual report card like screens. Maintaining a healthy family is another necessary task if you want to claim victory. This is a game with real tactical depth and it offers countless hours of game-play.
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The game is gorgeous with an astounding level of detail and every aspect of the visuals has been lovingly created. It retains an authentic feel thanks to the level of research which has gone into it and unit types and buildings are generally closely modelled on their genuine historical inspirations. The overall map screen is a major improvement over the board game style maps of earlier Total War releases and it shows city settlement information, army positions and even detailed terrain. When you enter into an actual battle the environments are lush and extremely detailed and you can zoom in to see the individual faces of your men. The animation work is excellent, the texturing is perfect and the visual effects are fantastic.
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The single player game will keep you busy for weeks but you may also fancy pitting your wits against a human opponent and the multiplayer system is easy to use. You can fight one-off battles against a human player as a variety of factions and on various maps either in open battle or as city sieges. The game supports up to six separate players and they can be divided into teams or you can have a giant free for all. The depth of tactics makes the multiplayer endlessly enjoyable.
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Now you don’t get quality visuals and epic scale like this without having a decent machine to run it. Even with a high spec machine you may notice some slowdown during particularly large conflicts especially if you have full detail and visual effects turned on. The minimum specs are as follows, 1GHz processor, 256MB RAM, GeForce 2 or Radeon 72xx series 64MB graphics card or higher and just under 3GB of hard drive space. I would strongly recommend you play on a better system that this because it will not run well at all on minimum specs.
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This is a fantastic game which is so detailed that I can’t explain every facet of it in this review. On release it was easily the best strategy game available and even now it has only been surpassed by the latest Total War effort.
Rome: Total War is extremely good value for money and there are thousands of hours worth of game-play here. It is highly polished in every aspect, the visuals, the sound, the game-play and the design are nothing short of brilliant. This is as close as you are going to get to running ancient Rome.