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Rome: Total War


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I find my most anticipated game releases of the rest of 2004 to be predominantly PC games, which is a first for me [i seem to have built my new PC just in time]. Whilst Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Half Life 2 and The Battle for Middle-Earth are still a few months off, now that Doom III is out of the way my next hugely anticipated title is Rome: Total War and it's coming soon...

 

How soon? Well Late September if that is to be believed, but I have been reading this evening of delays that could bump it back to November or December, which would be horrible, as for it to come in September would be good timing before other titles hit in the winter months.

 

I'm a big fan of the Total War series. I'm very fond of history and have always appreciated the series' attention to detail not to mention the solid gameplay each game has served to offer. Rome is taking it all to a new level however.

 

For now, we can drool over some screenshots:

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It's been confirmed another Total War game is in production (the team usually prep them in twos) but that no decision has been made on what it will be. They are apparently considering the North American Colonial period, the Napoleonic era, and possibly revisiting Medieval with the new game engine. I'd welcome all three!

 

http://www.totalwar.com/community/rome.htm

 

Daniel

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Yup! The BBC was the first to use the game engine in a similar series they started last year called 'Time Commanders' which was a great show, and the graphics engine left me wishing for a PC game like that, then low and behold I found out it was using the engine for Rome Total War.

 

One of the rumours on a possible delay to the release is that 'Decisive Battles' have some sort of agreement that it not be put out until the end of series run on the History Channel. That strikes me as an odd agreement, and not really one I can quite see being true. The game is apparently VERY close to being finished.

 

Daniel

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I have no clue how this game will end up playing out, but those screens are sweet

 

I seriously would not worry about the gameplay. The Total War series is well regarded, and Rome absolutely overwhelmed the gaming press at E3 this year. It's amazing how the build of the game progresses each time the press get to see it too. Everything is just coming together so nicely.

 

There's still not going to be a multiplayer campaign sadly, but it will support 8-player online battle mode which should be fantastic. You can seen it from the shots, but if you have Gamespot Live or IGN Insider access, or can find somewhere online to view the trailers shown at E3, you just HAVE to see this game in motion because it is stunning. If you have a good connection and no Live subscription, you should be able to watch the streaming trailer here. Remember that's of a build from April/May too! (the shot of them adopting the testudo formation is beautiful). The maximum limit of characters on screen is a whopping 20,000 and you'll be free to move the camera right into the thick of the battles.

 

 

Generals will give rallying speeches from time to time, and taunts will be shouted across the battlefield before someone dares to make the first strike. We'll have battles at various times of day now, and weather is going to play a major part in gaming strategy this time round too.

 

A demo should appear soon I hope. Allegedly it will see you taking charge of Hannibal's army.

 

There are masses of images to enjoy here.

 

Daniel

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What are the total war games like? Are we talking resource management and all that or are we talking about civilization like?

 

It?s all very much realtime strategy. You?ve got your troops on the field, and it?s your duty to issue the orders. You send them where you want to go, you set up who to charge or fire first and so on. The in battle interface has always been very easy to get to grips with. You have complete control, even more so now with Rome, over your troops.

It?s not just a case of setting everything up, and sitting back to watch the outcome either. You?re still in control in the thick of battle, so you need to have your wits about you at all times. It can get very exciting if it?s a big fight, and confusing now and again too, such is the nature of battle.

 

Off the battlefield when you?re looking at the global map, you see your position in the world, the countries you have conquered, and you see the same information of your allies and your enemies. It is here on the maps that the game goes into its timeline, as things move on, tidbits of real historical information will appear (such as the birth of Christ as I noted earlier, or the coming of a new Emperor) that can affect the course of play.

 

Via the map system, you are STILL very much playing the game however; it?s not a fancy menu to look over between battles. I kind of relate the gameplay in this department to making your moves in a game of chess. From the map you decided to invade, to form an allegiance with another country, or to bribe, and indeed accept bribes. In Medieval, such as it was in history, you could marry into a foreign sovereignty to guarantee another country?s allegiance. The map is the politics side of the Total War series basically and you need to be as good here as your are at the battles.

 

If you are a good player, one can of course change the course of history. You?re not bound by the timeline so to speak, but it does set itself in as much historical fact as it can in relation to how you?re playing the game. You could well lead Hannibal?s armies and not get very far at all for instance and see him perish in your first fight. :)

 

Dan

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What are the total war games like? Are we talking resource management and all that or are we talking about civilization like?

 

To expand a little on what Dan said, it doesn't play like Starcraft or C&C - it's more of a real time wargame than anything as it's large groups of troops you're moving, not individual "men". They play superbly - the interface, the AI, the "feel" of the games are excellent. When you lose, you lose because you messed up your tactics, not because of a tank rush. There's real depth to the gameplay. On top of that is the "political" level map that Dan describes where you see the results of your conquests as you take over (or lose) territory.

 

They're great, great games. Rome:Total War has a huge buzz going for it in the UK.

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Both Shogun and Medieval include full (and fun) tutorials in their demos, too, if you want to download one and give it a try. The last couple are actually proper little skirmishes, as the tutorials include the tactical basics as well as just how to navigate the interface.

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If that's the case, then I certainly recommend anyone who's not tried out the Total War series to give the Medieval demo a go then. I just love that game so much.

 

Visually it is now worlds apart from Rome, but you'll be able to get a sense of the way the series works. I actually purchased Medieval plus the Viking Invasions expansion pack together rather cheap as a two-pack that was issued, If anyone tries the old Medieval demo and likes it, the double pack is hard to pass up for the price.

 

http://www.totalwar.com/community/download.htm

 

Daniel

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If you have a speedy connection (I don't but I even I still had to check this out) right click and save as this file. It is a 115mb AVI file showing of sixteen minutes off gameplay. I think it was made specifically for the gaming press.

 

There is one bit where it shows you bringing your army in via ship at the shoreline in the map (the 3D map is fantastic!) and then it progresses into showing the battle. The camera turns around from the Roman Army on the shore, and you can see the ships anchored in the water in the near distance.

 

Romans cover pigs in tar and set them alight to scare the elephants, and the general motion capture in every department is brilliant. Soldiers are sent flying, shields are shattered, fireballs are sent flaming into city walls?etc?etc The movement of the horses is fantastic too.

 

Anticipation for the demo just got knocked up another notch. Bam!

 

Dan

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I HAVE THE DEMO!!!!

 

A good friend was able to slip me an advance on a 140mb rar file of the demo due to be hosted at IGN tomorrow. It's taken 4 and a half long hours over ISDN to get it off him, but I have it, and I LOVE IT!

 

It is very much Total War of old. Anyone familiar with the series is going to feel right at home with this. The greatest change save for the graphics is the interface, though 'change' is perhaps not the right word as the feel is very much the same, but improved for the better. Everything you need is there at the control bar, you can pause and resume the game from here (and issue your commands in pause mode), and you can speed up the game if things are getting a little tedious too. The icons to control your men could not be any easier to get to grips with. They've done a terrific job in making what looks very complicated, to be very user friendly.

 

 

The training level in this demo is going to appeal to newcomers. I gave it a whirl and it's very nicely done. We've lost Sean Pertwee to some chap who you sit wondering whether he's British, American or Australian... He narrates that video I linked to in my previous post. I miss Sean frankly. :)

 

Visually it is very nice. I'm running 1gb Corsair Ram, a P4 3ghz and a Radeon 9800 Pro. The demo seems to give you complete control over audio and video settings which is nice as you'll be able to gauge just how well your set up should be able to handle the final product. I did the tutorial with the defaults it assigned me, and then at Trebia I moved pretty much everything up to 'high.' I was running at 1024x768 throughout. Aside from a few graphical glitches in the demo itself, everything seemed to run absolutely smoothly for me.

 

The graphics overall are nice and obviously at their best when you're down as close as you can get amongst the troops. The actual way the characters move impressed me more than the way they actually looked. You'll see them scratching their heads whilst waiting around, and as a group their movements are very realistic, as are their reactions to an incoming enemy assault. The horses too are really quite excellent.

 

The camera is great and works as it did in the previous games. It's very smooth, but it's great to finally be able to zoom down into the thick of it. At Trebia as I chased the remaining Romans off of the battlefield and into the forest I was able to zoom in and bring the camera down into the forest itself and watch as my cavalry charged the remaining men down into the snow. The demo only lets you play from the point of view of the Carthaginians, so your timing of attack is essential. The shear sight of the massive army you?re up against is quite something. By the end of it all, the snow was littered with dead bodies of both man and beast (alas we?re still not allowed to see any blood!)?

 

Voice acting is a bigger deal this time round too, in as much as there's more of it. It's hit and miss mind you. Music seems to play a more dominant role during the game as well, and it's all very much in tune with what has come before in the Total War series.

 

I suppose that is in fact the most gratifying thing about the demo, at least for established fans of the series. It is all very much in tune with what has come before, and that?s a fantastic thing. They?ve improved in a great many areas but this still absolutely feels like Total War.

 

The demo is a must!

 

I?m happy and I'm going back for seconds! :)

 

Dan

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I just got a real close up on some Romans caught on the receiving end of some flaming arrows. They burst into flames and fall to the ground ending up in a charcoal black heap. :P

 

I love to continue playing after you win just to finish the buggers off. :) The game goes to a short but sweet real time cut scene showing your general, or the enemy general (or both if you're having some bad luck) being killed now too. Nice touch.

 

Daniel

 

PS: I brought the camera down right as the very first batches of infantry on both sides clashed. Observe how just before the clash they brace themselves for the hit, and raise their swords.

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Ok I must be out of the loop. What is a .mdf file? I unrar the demo and all I see are a .mdf and .mds file. Wussup?

 

 

 

Edit: Ok I may be out of the loop but I'm not a total idiot. :) I googled .mdf and found out its an image file. I then downloaded some prog named MagicISO and burned it to cd. Voila. It works. me go play...

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