'Total War: Rome II', a strategy computer game from SEGA and Creative Assembly.
They say that good things come to those who wait. Well, by that logic those who have been waiting for the sequel to PC game Total War: Rome should expect great things from Total War: Rome II. After all, they've been waiting nine years for the darn thing.
Good or bad, players can be certain of one thing right out of the box: Rome II is big. Really big.
"It's the biggest game we've ever made," said Studio Communications Manager Al Bickham during a behind-closed-doors presentation of the game last week.
In fact (just in terms of the game map itself), players will find that it goes as far north as Scotland, down through the Mediterannian, from Portugal on the West through to the Middle East. Compared to that of developer Creative Assembly's previous game, Total War: Shogun 2, the game is enormous.
"The campaign map for Rome II - you know, the kind of turn based part of the game where the game of statecraft and expansion and diplomacy - that campaign map is huge," stated Bickham during a post-presentation one-on-one interview. "It's four times the size of Shogun 2 in terms of scale."
In addition to having a vastly larger campaign map, Rome II also offers a greater diversity in its units. Shogun 2 had some 40 different military units to command. Rome II has in excess of 700.
But simply being large is one thing. Being good is something else entirely. Luckily, after having some hands-on time with an early build of the game, it seems that CA is doing just fine on that front as well. It's not perfect, but the game still has a little of development time left before it comes out in a little more than a month to work out the few remaining kinks.
A few technical caveats aside, Rome II looks to be every bit the Total War gameplay experience the franchise is known for and more. And the use of the word "more" is as figurative as it is literal.
In addition to simply winning battles (something easier stated than accomplished), players can also find victory in other avenues. This includes the ability to win by having a vastly superior culture to the game's many other factions. The game can also be won through economics. These win conditions are a little more Sid Meier's Civilization-like than Total War players might be comfortable with, but CA seemed very happy the additions.
Another item easily noticed during play is the game's graphical presentation. While not exactly awe-striking on an item-by-item basis, the sheer scale of what the game has to render coupled with how good everything looks overall is quite impressive both in battle and out. It's of Bickham's opinion that the depth and detail found in Rome II (both visually and otherwise) are a couple of the things that will make the game stand out against its predecessors and others similar to it.
"We support that by letting the player get right up close when those big real-time battles happen with 40,000 guys clashing on ancient battlefields," he commented. "You know, you get the camera down there close and you can see each individual man fighting and they've got such a vast range of combat animations and it looks absolutely incredible."
Still, the Studio Communications Manager stated that gamers don't need a top-tier rig in order for Rome II to be played.
"Our aim all along was to not shift the minimum spec of grade of PC you need to play it from Shogun 2," he said. "We've pretty much hitting that; we're close to Shogun 2's minimum spec."
Bickham then continued, "But of course, if you've got a monster PC with two enormous graphics cards and a super-fast processor, we'll take every bit of power you can give us and give you the most visually stunning artistic experience you've ever seen."
Those looking to get their latest Total War fix will be able to do so when SEGA launches the PC exclusive on the 3ds of September.
The ESRB has rated Total War: Rome II as "T for Teen".