Rome 2 is the latest entry in the Total War series and the sequel to the much acclaimed Total War: Rome, which is one of my favorite games of all time.
Rome 2, however, is complete garbage. Ignoring the bugs, performance, and video driver issues that are typical of any recent Creative Assembly release the game simply does not feel like a proper Total War game.
For starters the UI is more cumbersome than ever. To see any useful information takes too much clicking to get through the unnecessary layers of windows and pop-ups. Every time you order soldiers to attack the camera does dramatic, low angle swinging about that eats about 7 seconds of time each time. After each battle the little soldier pieces then do a short combat sequence which takes another 6 or so seconds. The tech tree is organized in a way that a whopping two dozen research options require 5 separate windows. The unit icons are all exactly the same colors and don’t show the important stuff, like troop count, fatigue, or morale until you mouse over them. The window that handles your internal politics is pretty much a list of senators and family members arranged in no meaningful fashion and all of this is complimented by the presence of an in-game wiki that reminds me of cheap educational software I once used in the 90’s.
More damningly though are how the battle mechanics have changed. Certain maneuvers that were absolutely essential in every previous game, Loose Formation for instance, are just gone. If you didn’t want your infantry to get slaughtered at range then tough. Soldiers won’t maintain any special formations properly. Legionnaires. who historically carried two pila into battle now seem to have an infinite supply of the things. Getting them to throw them however is an issue, as the troops no longer toggle between ranged and melee combat. They will throw the damn things every time they charge into battle, straight into the backs of the troops I wanted them to reinforce. If you have realism mode turned on and wanted to take command of some reinforcing troops then too bad. Realism mode locks the camera to your general’s unit and the reinforcements will typically appear far outside the render distance. I couldn’t figure out how to toggle them to AI control so they just sat there at the edge of the map.
The worst though are the changes to the campaign map play. Total War, a game about waging total war, now has hard limits on the number of separate armies, fleets, and agents you can have at any one time. It is directly linked to the number of provinces you control so if you’ve managed to set up a wealthy trading empire your money is just being wasted. The way cities are organized is pants-on-head retarded too. Every three or four cities are arbitrarily linked together by some kind of telepathy. Disruptions in one city somehow spread to the other three regardless of geological barriers, cultural differences, or the length of time they’ve been a part of your empire. If you do not own all the cities in a set you cannot issue edicts to any of those cities, an important factor considering how beneficial those edicts can be. There’s a cap on the number of edicts you can decree as well.
Soldiers can no longer march about on their own without a general to babysit them. This means peacekeeping troops or occupation troops are out of the question thanks to the limit on your armies. It also means you cannot split your forces because you cannot have two generals in the same army.
Foot soldiers can now transform themselves into boats on the spot and sail across the ocean, so maintaining a navy is pointless. These naval legions are legitimate warships thanks to the boarding mechanics, though why you would want to deal with the horribly buggy naval combat in this game is beyond me.
When a general dies he needs to be replaced or else his troops will shrivel up and die without his life-force sustaining them. Doing this is a simple as picking from a list. The chosen general is instantly transported to to wherever the army is.
Generals no longer have traits so to speak and can only have one person in their entourage at any given time. So having a charismatic, lunatic, inbred general with PTSD and a reputation for virility who maintains both exotic women, animals, and young boys in his harem while taking advice from his talking parrot and a turncoat barbarian war hero is simply gone. They no longer have any character and have been reduced to a set of level-up bonuses of which you will always choose the same.
Generals no longer give speeches at the beginning of each battle.
There’s too much emphasis on cinematic camera movement .
The music is dull and unmemorable compared to previous titles.
Everything is shrouded in a haze of yellow smog.
All foreign dignitaries look exactly the same and they all sound Scottish.
AI diplomacy is as retarded as ever.
The AI in general is as retarded as ever, yet the time it takes for a turn to tick over has gotten longer.
Every city is the size of LA.
You can’t put towns to the sword to keep rebellions down.
Tax levels are universal for your entire empire and can either be turned on or off.
Religions are no longer a factor.
Settlement population does not seem to be either.
The presence of walls around a city is determined by its population. You can’t build them yourself any more.
In short this game is an abomination. I can sit through most bad games once simply because they’re new and different but Rome 2 makes me physically ill. After an hour I have to stop and play Medieval 1 just to get the taste of bile out of my mouth. The fact that this game tried to sell itself with pre-order DLC only adds to the sickness.