Total War: Rome II has been out for some time now, during which its received a plethora of mixed reviews and opinions from both its community and the media. What was initially a brilliant game with a lot of ideas and heart, was also mothered by seemingly endless problems which, to many, could have been game breaking.
Creative Assembly, the minds behind this stratagem behemoth, haven’t been shy in supporting TWRII, offering not only two campaign expansion sets but also beavering away on updates to fix all those pesky issues. The Emperor edition marks the games 15th, yep 15th, major update (one that is absolutely free to anyone who purchased the games standard copy) offering yet more tweaks to the experience along with some fresh content.
Its an ambitious package, not only tying together all the little pieces of DLC and the endless fixes together, but you’ll find Twitch Tv has been fully integrated. Perhaps the biggest addition, at least for myself and I’m sure a select few of you out there, The Emperor Edition is now Mac compatible!
(One thing to note here is that for owners of existing editions of Total War Rome 2, will get all of these features automatically, as a free update! Cheers Creative Assembly!)
So, to begin at the beginning. As with the original and rather epically messy release, TWR2 starts you on good footing, controlling the Roman Empire in a lengthy prologue mission, presumably to get you started again with the controls and such. Once you crush a Samnite group to the ground, you’ll be given the option to choose one of nine factions with which to attempt world domination. You could attempt to bring the armies of Carthage to the front, let Gauls have a shot at the gold or stick with the Romans, among others, its all your choice.
The world map is simply huge, delivering you Europe in its entirety along with a pretty big slice of north Africa to boot and tasks you with managing your territories as well as heading up those beautifully gory battles. This is where TWR2 blends game play styles, throwing in turn based control of your cities, something akin to that of civilisation; where you must build on what you have, bolster up your army and make allegiances with (or destroy) other factions in your vicinity.
Its a fairly straight forward process, opting to build up your military might and recruit the best of the best or instead develop the agricultural side of things, with better fishing and farming comes better food and resources after all. You can research fresh technology to further expand your military prowess and civil infrastructure.
Battles are handled differently in TWR2, opting for real time play rather than a rigid turn based process and once you’ve engaged in a few skirmishes,thanks to all the fixes, you only have to play a few turns on the battlefield and you’ll fall in love with TWR2 and its real time destruction, its what makes TWR2 tick and is intrinsic in its DNA. Nothing could make me feel more like a master general then sending fleets of my Roman Army forward and watching as they pick the enemies forces to pieces, backed up with ear elephants and ballista.
Up close everything looks amazing and it almost feels like I can taste the dirt but if you want that god of war feel, as in the literal god of war floating in the sky above, you can pan out and watch it all play out, exactly as you’ve ordered.
The proudly boasted new campaign, is set after the death of Julius Caesar and offers a fresh experience thanks to this daring geopolitical boundaries applied. With the empire once again divided, the start of 44 BC throws players into the second Triumvirate War and leaves you to decide how the events play out. As Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus are all tussling for power, players can choose to follow the known course and allow Octavian to build the Roman empire as we know it today, or instead completely change the course of history.
While the new campaign is a welcome addition, the main body of TWR2 is basically the same, obviously save from its fixes and tweaks, something which you’ll only really discover once you’ve spent some serious time with the game.
AI has always been somewhat of weakness for the Total War series, Shogun as well as the initial release of Rome 2, offered up fairly intelligent armies who for some reason were all too easily flanked from time to time but thankfully its something that has been refined in the Emperor Edition, citing you against much more clued up enemies on the battlefield. You’ll have to trust me when I say a lot of those old tricks to a quick victory just wont work this time.
Overall, Total War Rome 2 was a hugely ambitious title when it released initially and it pretty much fell flat on its face, disappointing fans everywhere with heaps of technical gripes and unfinished concepts, thankfully though, the Emperor Edition is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Creative Assembly have clearly taken all the issues on board and done a good job answering their fans concerns. Load times are significantly shorter, AI is much better, all DLC is thrown in along with Mac compatibility and all of it is free to previous owners.
With all the fixes and the hundreds of hours you can easily spend with the new scenario on offer, Total War Rome 2: Emperor Edition is worth every penny! (if you have to pay for it that is) Its just a shame that a fumbled launch may keep this entry into the series being remembered for the right reasons.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PC Release Date: 16/09/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Total War Rome 2 Emperor Edition by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 2 weeks on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.