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Rome: Total War Review - PC

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Rome Total War is an 'epic' real time strategy game that is admirably based on real history from the period of the Roman Empire. It comes as the latest in the RTS Total War series created by The Creative Assembly. The game, riding on a wave of success from the previous titles, arrived with a huge amount of excited gamer anticipation and media acclaim.

Even in development the Rome Total War engine was consistently described as impressively detailed and vast, and was used on British television to simulate actual historic battles. It was safe to say that this game was going to be immensely graphically impressive - in scale and beauty - even before playing it, and this holds true of course. The game is a fantastic achievement and, it turns out, deserves the acclaim it gets. However for the veteran RTS gamer this game may just be lacking in some minor ways - the kind of minor ways that start off as insignificant annoyances and then end up being, say, the reason why a good RTS isn't a time-defying classic.

Game Play

There are several options of play available in Rome Total War. There is a whole selection of historical battles to play, a custom battle mode - where players can set up battle scenarios to their liking, the imperial campaign, and a 'prologue' which contains a fairly concise and helpful tutorial. The major mode of play in Rome Total War is the imperial campaign and it also has some customisable options. Players can choose, among other things, how often they want the annoying - or helpful depending on the player's preference - advisors to blink with advise, how difficult they want the battles to be, and whether they want to play an epic game in which they must seize control of 50 settlements, or a toned down version in which they must only conquer 15.

In the epic version of the imperial campaign the player takes control of one of three major factions in ancient Rome, all of which are exactly identical apart from location, history and colour. All the factions are under direction from the S.P.Q.R - the senate. The aim is fairly obviously to expand the Roman Empire, and ultimately to achieve a kind of world domination. In the way stands a whole host of opposition factions, including the Gauls, the Carthagians, the Egyptians, some of whom have possession of some fantastic units and almost all of whom are playable in the games custom battle mode.

Furthermore, some of the other non-roman factions are playable in the shorter version of the imperial campaign after they have been 'unlocked' - defeated in the epic mode. Of course it's not just those pesky foreigners that need to be taught a lesson; players are also required to become the emperor of Rome which means some political shrewdness will be required along the way. The game itself begins with a ... (continued next page)