I have fond memories of the Total War series, I spent many an hour playing the original Rome and the two Medieval titles. Empire was interesting, but I was never able to sink my teeth into it like I would have liked. The Shogun title meanwhile never really stuck with me, I just don’t have the interest in the history or the understanding of the culture to really invest. Rome II then is a welcome return to the time periods which initially got my attention.
A note – I am still playing a review code build of the game which I don’t think has received any of the updates which have been promised. However, the issues I will talk about are largely ones which won’t be coming in for updates coming in the next few weeks, as such this Verdict is based on what I have played, not what the game promises to be. You can check my first impressions for more from me on this game.
Let me say that I have had no issues loading the game nor have I experienced any crashes, even after alt-tabbing back to Windows. I have been involved in battles which seem to look a bit low-quality, but the developers have explained the reasons why graphical settings might drop between fights.
I will say that loading times are very frustrating, both between turns and when waiting for a battle to load. This is due to be addressed in a coming update, but right now it can be a bit frustrating, but picking up my phone and checking Twitter has kept me occupied during these moments. What I find more annoying is the apparent AI troubles, I started my campaign at the Iceni in Britain (annoying that you can’t choose any of the other British factions mind) and quickly set about building up an army and expanding taking over Eborakon in the North East. In the meantime, the other factions traded with each other and made some armies but never came close to making a stand against me. After conquering Eildon and Eblana in Scotland and Ireland, I thought I would have the diplomatic power to make the other factions join a Confederation, this didn’t happen. Even after putting armies to surround their settlements, the ‘balance of power’ indicator in the diplomacy screen remained unchanged. It feels entirely lacking in feeling like the AI is responding.
There are some positives though, I have seen foreign navies take part in action by encircling their enemy cities and various factions have been destroyed and risen up once again. Egypt has gone and come back three times in my first hundred years. When making a foolhardy move against the Nervii on mainland Europe, their allies rapidly sprang to their defence entirely destroying my three armies across a sequence of brutal battles. In the first major battle of this attempted attack my largest army, along with two groups of reinforcements were crushed into the snow against a force twice the size. I thought I was doing well…and I was until my units lost all hope and fled.
While the AI and diplomacy can be hit and miss, the political intrigues of your own faction are somewhat murkier. At various points a pop-up will appear asking me to bribe one of my council elders or adopt someone to my family, but it all feels very tacked on with little to no explanation of what is happening. Maybe the system works better with Rome and their various Houses and Senate, but the Iceni seem to just get on with things no matter what. Having come from playing Europa Universalis to this, I know that Rome has a lot to improve upon.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though as the core ideas are as strong as ever, and the UI is clear and crisp. Recruiting units, order agents around on nefarious missions, expanding settlements and advancing technologies are all easy to control. It took a bit of getting used to being limited in the number of armies and navies you can have at any one time, but it makes sense that a small faction with one settlement shouldn’t be able to build up several massive armies to conquer the land. It gives you encouragement, as if you need it, to expand an increase you level of Imperium which will let you manage a larger military force.
All in all, I’m having great fun with this game and will likely keep coming back to it. It is far from perfect right now, but still thoroughly enjoyable. I hope the updates fix some of the issues there are, but on the whole I still heartily recommend it. I’ll hopefully be back in a few months when things are tidied up with some more thoughts. But for now…
Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
Please check this post for more on our scoring system. Review based on Steam review copy provided by SEGA.