Rome Total War 2

The Total War series of games is a series of flawed gems. Some, like the original Rome Total War and its expansion Barbarian Invasion, are classics, whereas the most recent entry is a bomb. Despite the passage of eight years and vast increases in computer horsepower, the sequel is a bummer all around.

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way. The game largely looks great. It’s this visual gloss that made me buy it. The units and the terrain are all well rendered. I like the ships in particular. I was prepared for an epic experience.

So that was it for the good stuff.

Combat is a quick, disappointing mess. Every battle turns into a giant mosh pit that lasts about five minutes. As such, units that are not heavy infantry are useless, and tactical moves are pointless; just smash through with all you have, and you win. Sieges are a special joke as both the pathfinding and AI for both sides is broken, making it impossible to exit gatehouses, use battering rams, and in general navigate near city walls.

The main strategic map is also a rambling mess. Only generals can lead armies now, making it very laborious to garrison cities beyond the minimum, which is necessary when cleaning up after conquest, and you only get a handful of them.¬† The building system has been simplified and abstracted into something I don’t care for anymore. Enemy strategic AI is bafflingly incompetent, either running away from battles it could win, or recruiting armies made up near totally of useless slingers. The scale of cities to their respective countries is ridiculously off; Athens, Rome, and Carthage are all the size of New York or larger.

Also, perhaps most frustrating, waiting for your turn during the main game is agonizingly slow. My machine and graphics card is not a slouch, and the original Rome TW was miles faster.

Can a series of patches fix these things? I am/was playing 1.0.0. I sure hope so.

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