Total War: Rome II Review - Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.

It's not a "bad" game by any standards, but it's got some issues. The AI can't cope at all, whether strategic or tactical, the naval combat is just awful, and the GUI has become even more cluttered. SO many buttons, so little screen real estate.

Awful UI. Incredibly counterintuitive. The 'artistic' unit cards all look the same which makes it easy to miss-click in the chaos of a battle. AI is as brain dead as ever:
'Hey, want to setup a mutually beneficial trade agreement with my friendly nation?'
'Sure...but pay me $5000 first'
'But the trade agreement is only worth $120 per year? :('
'Ok...pay me 3800 then'

No guard ability (why they removed this I'll never understand). Visually it still looks good, but I swear Shogun 2 look much better in some ways, especially the battles (where's the blood?!)

Animations almost look like they've taken a step back in a number of ways.

Not a fan of the province system either and the way population happiness is shared between 3-4 regions. Got a flood in one region? Guess what, your WHOLE province will be rioting about it. Having limited armies tied to generals seems pointless also. Tons of little annoying changes.

Sigh. I mean. It's still a Totalwar game, and no doubt I'll still slog through it. But this is definitely the worst TW game I've played to date (and that's coming from someone who played through Empire).

I never zoom in close enough to see the blood anyway, but it's not as good as it could be. Shame, really.

Far too many factions on the map, too.

I actually enjoyed Empire, BTW; Fall of the Samurai is probably the best the Total War series has been in recent iterations.

This definitely looks like something I'll want to get someday, but I have enough games on my plate right now as it is, so this'll have to wait for awhile.

But from the pictures and review it looks really awesome!

Some that I miss from Medieval II and Shogun II are the assassin cinematics. I liked watching how my assassin could succeed or fail at every attempt. Loving the game though.

4 Stars? I strongly disagree.

The battles are waaay to short, and always end up just being like some kind of mosh-pit where one unit will break after 5-10 seconds. There's just no unit cohesion, even with units that require it function, like a phalanx. The units themselves appear to world-record level sprinters.

The game is very badly optimized and looks terrible, even on extreme.

If you were interested in getting this game, just wait until a decent community mod has been released, for what is clearly just a beta release.... or just play EB

2/5 - this game promised so much but delivered a poorly optimized beta.

I'd give it 65-70% and hope that both CA and especially the modding community does something good with it.

Well I'm rather enjoying it. Sure there are some tweaks that need to happen, but that's the case for practically every major release these days. And I trust CA to sort it soon.

it definitely needs some major patching. fast fowarding doesnt work in my game, ships sometimes continually ram each other doing no damage, units are frozen in place, unit cohesion seems sketchy too i noticed, even pike phalanxes cant hold their lines like they could in the old rome

the ui needs desperate modding. its so hard at a glance to tell units apart from their unit cards and its a pain that they removed actually listing the number of men on the unit cards as well.

one thing i can see is how much potential the game has. its going to be a defining total war game once it has a few patches under its belt. now give me my seleucids damn it !

This review is simply CRAP...
The game is horrible at this stage and several mechanics have been INCREDIBLY dumbed down, comparing with previous titles (such as diplomacy and even tactical battles, on which you are suposed to "defend" certain positions on the battlefield marked with a flag, regardless of your choice or better ground for your troops; if you dont do this you lose the battle...).

I cant stress it enough, THEY HAVE GONE BACKWARDS with this game. If you dont own Shogun 2, do yourself a favour, get THAT one. Forget this Rome 2... ^thumbs down^

And I add: VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET; let be clear to fucking Creative Assembly that they cant just keep rushing horribly buggy games out the door as their standard practice...

Calm down, Sally. You disagree with Justin's review (I do as well), but don't be a dick about it.

And stop yelling.

apaprently there are supposed to be weekly patches for the game so thats something.

How does loading times compare with Shogun 2? That would be the decider for me.

Shogun 2 pissed me off so much with its 5 minute loading times for even small battles, it got to the point where i ended up just autobattling everything, basically not playing the game.
If rome 2 does better in that department, then it's already better then Shogun 2 in my book by virtue of being actually able to play it.

Frankster:
How does loading times compare with Shogun 2? That would be the decider for me.

Shogun 2 pissed me off so much with its 5 minute loading times for even small battles, it got to the point where i ended up just autobattling everything, basically not playing the game.
If rome 2 does better in that department, then it's already better then Shogun 2 in my book by virtue of being actually able to play it.

Battles actually load quite quickly, it's the end of turn "loading" that takes forever this time around.

Aye, I've heard some pretty bad stuff about this one. Saying that, someone did a check for the reviewers on steam and checked their actual play-time.

One guy played it for 1 hour and gave up after that.

I''m still gonna give it a miss for now. I might pick it up when it's patched up and my computer can handle it.

Kristian Fischer:
It's not a "bad" game by any standards, but it's got some issues. The AI can't cope at all, whether strategic or tactical, the naval combat is just awful, and the GUI has become even more cluttered. SO many buttons, so little screen real estate.

The AI for Total War games has always been modeled after a bipolar meth addict and naval battle have always been next to impossible since the pathfinding has not in any way improved since the mid 2000s. As for the GUI, they still have not realized that the reason the WASD keybind layout for FPSs has become ubiquitous. It's not because it's the FPS players choice, it's that it just feels natural to have your hands in those positions.

Canadish:
Aye, I've heard some pretty bad stuff about this one. Saying that, someone did a check for the reviewers on steam and checked their actual play-time.

One guy played it for 1 hour and gave up after that.

It's quite possible that was, say, one guy they roped in to join in a multiplayer battle and that's all he did.

20 hours in now, and I must admit I'm enjoying it quite a bit regardless of the many complaints. As a matter of fact, some very fair points have been brought up in the thread that I didn't find back in the review. Though I don't have any technical issues (which I find strange, since so many seem to be having them instead. My system isn't all -that- superior), the gameplay does feel a bit of a step back compared to, say, Shogun.

The victory points, as someone stated before, are quite a pain if you're trying to set up a defensive position away from your starting position, and units automatically seem to be in guard mode, instead of being able to manually set them on it, as they don't bother setting a single step forward as soon as the enemy starts routing.

All in all, it's still not a -bad- game so long as you don't have any technical difficulties (try turning off the NPC movements at the end of turn as well. It shaves off -some- waiting time at least), but I suppose if you expect more bang for your buck, it might be an idea to wait it out a while.

The AI for the Total War games has been bad for a very specific reason: There are simply far too many possibilities to check.

It's like the difference between Chess AI and Go AI. Go has far simpler rules, but there are hundreds of possible moves per turn so an AI is incapable of planning more than a few moves ahead while a human can plan dozens of moves ahead. Meanwhile, chess only has about 3 or 4 moves worth considering for most of the game, so AI can check 20 or 30 turns ahead. Even running a Chess AI program on a typical PC will create an opponent unbeatable by humans at the highest settings, while the best Go AI barely plays better than an amateur.

Compare this to total war games, where there are not just thousands but millions of potential moves, and the rules are more complex than both chess and go combined. The typical strategy AI coding system of checking all possible moves and all the possible moves after those possible moves onward is impossible.

Not only that, but the Total War AI criteria for what counts as a good move or not is also going to be awful, because the AI cannot make judgement such as "What is the probability that the player will see these hidden units?" or "Will I flank the player before they notice?". In chess, the criteria is far simpler.

I don't know what it is and I hate to sound like some guy who just can't get with the times, but the last four total war games pale in comparison to Rome and Medieval 2. I don't know what it is, but the new games just kinda blow compared to those two. Empire was eh, haven't played Napoleon but I assume it is similar to Empire, Shogun 2 is the only decent one, and as of now I have shelfed Rome 2 until they fix the damn thing.

They really dropped the ball on this release. You have moronic AI, units that don't listen, shitty graphics and FPS, and terrible campaign interface. I could go on but, I still have hope they can patch this game so it improves.

Blaster395:
The AI for the Total War games has been bad for a very specific reason: There are simply far too many possibilities to check.

It's like the difference between Chess AI and Go AI. Go has far simpler rules, but there are hundreds of possible moves per turn so an AI is incapable of planning more than a few moves ahead while a human can plan dozens of moves ahead. Meanwhile, chess only has about 3 or 4 moves worth considering for most of the game, so AI can check 20 or 30 turns ahead. Even running a Chess AI program on a typical PC will create an opponent unbeatable by humans at the highest settings, while the best Go AI barely plays better than an amateur.

Compare this to total war games, where there are not just thousands but millions of potential moves, and the rules are more complex than both chess and go combined. The typical strategy AI coding system of checking all possible moves and all the possible moves after those possible moves onward is impossible.

Not only that, but the Total War AI criteria for what counts as a good move or not is also going to be awful, because the AI cannot make judgement such as "What is the probability that the player will see these hidden units?" or "Will I flank the player before they notice?". In chess, the criteria is far simpler.

I don't buy it. Yes, programming AI for strategy games is incredibly complex, but that doesn't excuse TW's failures in comparison to comparable games. Paradox games (Europa Universalis, Victoria, Crusader Kings), the Civilizations, Starcraft, and virtually all other strategy games have better AI than the TWs. No TW game even gets the most basic elements of diplomacy down.

Angry Joe's rant about it sort of sealed the deal on me waiting for a patch to buy it:

I'm really confused as to what happened. Shogun 2 worked great and was pretty rock solid in terms of visuals and stability. Rome 2 uses the same engine but so many more people are having issues with it.

Elfgore:
I don't know what it is and I hate to sound like some guy who just can't get with the times, but the last four total war games pale in comparison to Rome and Medieval 2. I don't know what it is, but the new games just kinda blow compared to those two. Empire was eh, haven't played Napoleon but I assume it is similar to Empire, Shogun 2 is the only decent one, and as of now I have shelfed Rome 2 until they fix the damn thing.

They really dropped the ball on this release. You have moronic AI, units that don't listen, shitty graphics and FPS, and terrible campaign interface. I could go on but, I still have hope they can patch this game so it improves.

I sort of agree. I think it's the "scope" of the games in a sense. In Medieval 2 you could play as 17 factions and there was a fantastic variety in them. The problem with Shogun 2 is that the Japanese factions don't really seem all that different. I mean, it makes sense historically but it's not as fun to play and experiment with.

Klepto:

Blaster395:
The AI for the Total War games has been bad for a very specific reason: There are simply far too many possibilities to check.

It's like the difference between Chess AI and Go AI. Go has far simpler rules, but there are hundreds of possible moves per turn so an AI is incapable of planning more than a few moves ahead while a human can plan dozens of moves ahead. Meanwhile, chess only has about 3 or 4 moves worth considering for most of the game, so AI can check 20 or 30 turns ahead. Even running a Chess AI program on a typical PC will create an opponent unbeatable by humans at the highest settings, while the best Go AI barely plays better than an amateur.

Compare this to total war games, where there are not just thousands but millions of potential moves, and the rules are more complex than both chess and go combined. The typical strategy AI coding system of checking all possible moves and all the possible moves after those possible moves onward is impossible.

Not only that, but the Total War AI criteria for what counts as a good move or not is also going to be awful, because the AI cannot make judgement such as "What is the probability that the player will see these hidden units?" or "Will I flank the player before they notice?". In chess, the criteria is far simpler.

I don't buy it. Yes, programming AI for strategy games is incredibly complex, but that doesn't excuse TW's failures in comparison to comparable games. Paradox games (Europa Universalis, Victoria, Crusader Kings), the Civilizations, Starcraft, and virtually all other strategy games have better AI than the TWs. No TW game even gets the most basic elements of diplomacy down.

All the games you listed have either grids (Civilization), minigrids (Starcraft) or a graph for the map (EU3 V2 CK2). Total War is the only game that is gridless. I repeat the fact that there are far fewer potential moves in these games than in Total War.

None of the games you mentioned is famed for having competent AI either. Civilization AI has struggled even after 2 expansion packs even with the advantage of a huge grid and really simple city specialization (The AI basically follows the recommendations it sets the player anyway). Starcraft has the AI follow a preset list of builds that are specifically programmed for specific scenarios while total war is so divergent that giving the AI specific plans like that doesn't work. EU3, V2 and CK2 AI isn't even intelligent, for the most part it just makes random choices influenced by a few fixed factors (such as relationship modifiers and strength comparisons) while moving its armies towards opponents. Sure, it can play the game and tech up and build stuff, but that isn't an indicator of higher level planning, that just indicates it knows how to follow the rules.

There is another way of putting the differences into words without going too heavily into maths. Tactics in Total War is very much about pattern recognition (formations, flanking and securing flanks, ensuring vulnerable units are protected) and pattern problem solving (How many different routes are optimal to take to ensure I can surround the opponent in this city battle?), something humans are godly at while computers can't do shit. The most intelligent thing I have seen the AI do is be able to properly garrison cities via placing units at correct rank and file to perfectly block streets from multiple sides while keeping ranged units in a protected 'fortress' of sorts, and that's just incredible for an AI with this kind of game even though the player will still easily problem solve a way to crush it.

I like the game, but I have issues.
The Diplomacy is silly (The AI REFUSES to trade. Why!? Even if you are 'in the green' relationship-wise with five factions, only one of them wants to trade with you).
You can no longer sell military access.

Some factions are unbalanced. I can ignore Rome being OP, as it always is, but giving Carthaginians and Egyptians War-Elephant Generals recruitable for 0 Denarii from turn one? That is fucking stupid. They feel as OP as the Cataphracts did back in Rome: TW.

Units stop chasing routing enemies and you have to specifically order them to do such. Killing routing enemies takes forever, even with light-cavalry. Like one kill every 15 sec or so, even if you have 80 Light Cav and you are chasing down 60 fleeing spearmen. Baffling.

Despite this, it's still a good game. I have a decent graphics-card, though not the best of the best (AMD Radeon 7750) and I can run it on highest setting without any issues. The graphics are about the same as Shogun 2.
I have no issues with the UI, but I wish you would have a clear skill-tree for the generals.
Agents seem a tad expensive now to recruit (1200 for a spy? O-key then..), and you can no-longer move units without having a general (and you can only have a certain number of generals depending on your empire size).

Overall, not a bad game. Will become better as it is patched and they fix or adjust some of the mentioned issues.
It is NOT an "Epic Fail" gameplay-wise. Don't believe the whiners. It might not live up to the hype, but it certainly isn't bad. The only fail might be that some people are having problem with even running it. But that's a launch-fail, a fail which belongs to the beta-testers and CA, not a fail with the gameplay and the game itself.

I haven't really had any major issues. The graphics/performance could be a little better but they're not bad by any means. The gameplay itself, be it on the battlefield or the campaign map, is as fun as ever. It's a good game, just wait a while before buying it if the bugs are going to piss you off that much.

That said, I'm still UNBELIEVABLY TERRIBLE at it. I can't even finish the prologue.

Blaster395:

Klepto:

Blaster395:
The AI for the Total War games has been bad for a very specific reason: There are simply far too many possibilities to check.

It's like the difference between Chess AI and Go AI. Go has far simpler rules, but there are hundreds of possible moves per turn so an AI is incapable of planning more than a few moves ahead while a human can plan dozens of moves ahead. Meanwhile, chess only has about 3 or 4 moves worth considering for most of the game, so AI can check 20 or 30 turns ahead. Even running a Chess AI program on a typical PC will create an opponent unbeatable by humans at the highest settings, while the best Go AI barely plays better than an amateur.

Compare this to total war games, where there are not just thousands but millions of potential moves, and the rules are more complex than both chess and go combined. The typical strategy AI coding system of checking all possible moves and all the possible moves after those possible moves onward is impossible.

Not only that, but the Total War AI criteria for what counts as a good move or not is also going to be awful, because the AI cannot make judgement such as "What is the probability that the player will see these hidden units?" or "Will I flank the player before they notice?". In chess, the criteria is far simpler.

I don't buy it. Yes, programming AI for strategy games is incredibly complex, but that doesn't excuse TW's failures in comparison to comparable games. Paradox games (Europa Universalis, Victoria, Crusader Kings), the Civilizations, Starcraft, and virtually all other strategy games have better AI than the TWs. No TW game even gets the most basic elements of diplomacy down.

All the games you listed have either grids (Civilization), minigrids (Starcraft) or a graph for the map (EU3 V2 CK2). Total War is the only game that is gridless. I repeat the fact that there are far fewer potential moves in these games than in Total War.

None of the games you mentioned is famed for having competent AI either. Civilization AI has struggled even after 2 expansion packs even with the advantage of a huge grid and really simple city specialization (The AI basically follows the recommendations it sets the player anyway). Starcraft has the AI follow a preset list of builds that are specifically programmed for specific scenarios while total war is so divergent that giving the AI specific plans like that doesn't work. EU3, V2 and CK2 AI isn't even intelligent, for the most part it just makes random choices influenced by a few fixed factors (such as relationship modifiers and strength comparisons) while moving its armies towards opponents. Sure, it can play the game and tech up and build stuff, but that isn't an indicator of higher level planning, that just indicates it knows how to follow the rules.

There is another way of putting the differences into words without going too heavily into maths. Tactics in Total War is very much about pattern recognition (formations, flanking and securing flanks, ensuring vulnerable units are protected) and pattern problem solving (How many different routes are optimal to take to ensure I can surround the opponent in this city battle?), something humans are godly at while computers can't do shit. The most intelligent thing I have seen the AI do is be able to properly garrison cities via placing units at correct rank and file to perfectly block streets from multiple sides while keeping ranged units in a protected 'fortress' of sorts, and that's just incredible for an AI with this kind of game even though the player will still easily problem solve a way to crush it.

Total War Modders regularly address these issues when improving the generally incompetent AI in TW games. The fact that modders can tackle these problems (often with much lesser resources than the devs themselves) while the development team themselves cannot time and again live up to even those expectations. That doesn't speak much about their AI programming skills, IMO.

Oroboros:

Total War Modders regularly address these issues when improving the generally incompetent AI in TW games. The fact that modders can tackle these problems (often with much lesser resources than the devs themselves) while the development team themselves cannot time and again live up to even those expectations. That doesn't speak much about their AI programming skills, IMO.

Actually, all that AI modders do is change a few variables in the AI code along the lines of "Strength of response to Human flanking" or "Aggressiveness with cavalry". I have played a wide variety of mods and they are rarely a major improvement.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/06/total-war-rome-ii-review
I just read this review in the Guardian. Mr Croshaw himself would have been proud of such a demolition job. It is as buggy and as flawed as this review makes out?

Slycne:

Battles actually load quite quickly, it's the end of turn "loading" that takes forever this time around.

Cheers for the response, decided to get the game after that as the lure of a playable if flawed total war was too much of a sirens call.
Can indeed confirm battle loading times are reasonable and though the end of turn wait is annoying...It's still not as obnoxious as a single shogun 2 loading screen which would happen multiple times per turn.

Only played a few hours thus far but from first impressions i can confirm some of what has already been said...:

Dumb AI: Considering that a month ago the escapist had a rome 2 feature by the devs on how much better the AI was... What happened here? Also at first i welcomed the constant kamikazing single unit forces as a free source of xp for my legions, but as my borders grew it became an obnoxious pain. Yey for autobattles.

Bugs: One time a kamikaze unit did actually take my city! Basically a carthagian general set sail to take one of my cities, killed all but 7 of his bodyguard unit before they landed, and though they weren't riding elephants due to disembarking, their stats still counted as if they were riding elephants...So imagine 7 bloodied men swamped by 600 roman haspati and utterly demolishing them dynasty warriors style, sending groups of romans flying with each blow.
I was laughing so hard i almost didn't mind losing the city.

Some personal observations:
-No blood, wtf? Oh right, its gonna be DLC like with Shogun 2. As a gore enthusiast, this annoys me no end especially as said blood pack likely won't be available for another 6 months or so i imagine.
-General speeches: i wont say there are none since at start of battle (after you deployed) your general says a few lines...But its nothing like the trait based speeches that old Total wars used to have. Shame.

4 stars? Try 1.

This review is way too generous. I expected more from an indie publication like Escapist. This is the kind of pulled punches we expect from PC Gamer. This game is a wreck of forgotten features and truly abysmal AI. The features that are in the game are largely broken or poorly implemented. The optimization is a joke.

And you said nothing of the bait and switch pre-release footage, doctored marketing materials which were repeatedly said to represent actual in-game footage (NO ONE has graphics like they depicted because those graphics aren't actually in the game!) or the massive FPS drops.

I'm sorry but this game is absolute shit. I'm a hard core fan of the first one and i must say that this game is not playable, at least not now and not on my pc. I have a good gaming pc and I must say even when i tune down the graphics it still isn't nearly as good feel. Also AI is as intelligent as a common frog.

 

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