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Reviewed: Rome: Total War
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: December 8th, 2004
Page: 2
The Campaign setting of Rome: Total War is still a turn-based setup, so players don't have to worry about losing track of what's going on - but the graphical improvements alone are completely brilliant. No longer does the land look like a Risk board; now it's a 3-dimensional map of Europe, cities dotting the landscape, armies represented by their generals. 

When armies clash, the landscape zooms in to begin a battle. Enemy units start on the edge of the map that they entered from, which is a nice touch; if you've got the time to encircle an enemy, you can start a battle that way. It also makes an important difference when sieging cities and quelling rebellions. In fact, the tactical elements of the map are wonderful, and are part of what makes Rome: Total War so fun to play.

Battle units, while fun enough in the technology tree, are also required to be used tactically. Cavalry units are best against archers, foot soldiers against charging hordes, archers against other archers or units that foot soldiers have pinned down... bracing an army for a charge isn't just a matter of clicking every unit, it requires positioning each unit in the position to do the most good. Quite an undertaking, but well worth the effort, and something the engine simulates beautifully.


The cinematics are amazing.


The secondary beauty of Rome: Total War is how well the two modes - campaign, and combat - fit together. Engaging in battle near cities can be breathtaking, as the cities sprawl out and improve the landscape; sieging cities can be incredible. A nice touch is that for many battles, the units you start with are the units you get; the pains and moans of "first hundred moves syndrome" are taken up in the turn-based strategy mode, leaving the RTS section for epic scales of combat with the units already at your command. 

Campaign mode features generals marching over the landscape, taking territory and ordering improvements to cities. Troop movements are handled in 3-D, with well-placed shortcuts to move the camera. The whole screen can fill with legions, and still maintain this level of detail.

At the end of the day, Rome: Total War is a glorious game to behold, and there's really very little to say about it; it just all comes together properly to make a stellar title. Good graphics, good AI, well-done music, and a finely tuned gameplay engine to top it off. Hail, Caesar!

Added:  Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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