Rome: Total War

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Rome: Total War
Developer(s)The Creative Assembly
Director(s)Michael M. Simpson
  • Robert T. Smith
  • Mike Brunton
  • Michael de Plater
  • Jamie Ferguson
  • Chris Gambold
Composer(s)Jeff van Dyck
SeriesTotal War
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android
  • Windows
    • NA: September 22, 2004
    • EU: October 1, 2004
  • OS X
    • WW: February 5, 2010
  • iPad
    • WW: November 10, 2016
  • iPhone
    • WW: August 23, 2018
  • Android
    • WW: December 19, 2018
Genre(s)Real-time tactics, turn-based strategy
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Rome: Total War is a PC strategy game developed by The Creative Assembly and released in 2004 by Activision, although its rights have since passed to Sega. The Mac OS X version was released on 5 February 2010 by Feral Interactive,[1] who released the iPad version on November 10, 2016,[2] and the iPhone version on August 23, 2018.[3] An Android version was also released on December 19, 2018.[4] The game is the third title in The Creative Assembly's Total War series.

The game's main campaign is set during the mid and late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire (270 BC – AD 14),[5] with the player assuming control of one of three Roman families; other factions are playable once they have been unlocked. Gameplay involves real-time tactical battles framed within a turn-based strategic campaign, taking place across Europe, North Africa and the Near East. At the strategic level, players manage diplomacy, develop infrastructure, move armies and manage the population's growth and public order through taxes and gladiatorial games. On the tactical scale, the player commands real-time battles against enemy armies within or between cities.

The game was released to critical acclaim, becoming one of the best reviewed PC strategy games.[6] It has been well received by gamers, going on to generate a persistent and loyal modding fanbase.[7][8][9]


The player takes a role as the head of one of the three great Roman houses of the time; the Julii, Brutii, or Scipii. Over the course of the game new factions are unlocked, either one at a time as they are defeated, or all at once on completion of the campaign. Each faction has a different set of attributes, objectives, and initial provinces under its control. Control of a province is given to the faction whose army occupies the province's city. The ultimate goal is to become emperor by conquering fifty provinces, gaining support from the people, before capturing Rome itself, but a "short game" can be played in which the player must control fifteen provinces and outlast certain faction(s). After this initial campaign is completed by the player, similar campaigns can be unlocked for various other factions in the game.

Cities have a variety of buildings that may be built or upgraded, such as: temples, aqueducts—and amphitheatres, which increase the people's happiness and well-being. Markets increase the city's financial contribution, and academies the likelihood of producing effective family members (see below). Walls make the city more resistant to assault, and barracks, archery ranges and stables unlock new military units. The player expands their empire by training armies in friendly cities and using them to assault and occupy enemy cities (native mercenary units may also be hired by a family member outside a city). Controlling more cities benefits from increased geographical dominance and greater tax income. However, more cities and larger populations become increasingly difficult to control, as local populaces resist foreign rule, and reinforcements have further to travel. If a city's inhabitants are overtaxed, underdeveloped or unprotected, they rebel and become in effect their own faction - the player's control is lost, garrisoned units are forced out of the city, and a hostile rebel army is formed in its place.

Battles in Rome: Total War can feature thousands of individual soldiers, organised into 'units'. The formation of some units can be changed; here, the phalanx formation sacrifices mobility in favour of increased defensive strength

When the player's army meets an army, a 3D real-time tactical battle is started, which represents the other half of the gameplay. The strategic and tactical modes integrate in such a way that the landscape for the battles reflects the strategic map where the armies meet: for example, if the strategic map has snow-covered hills, the battle map attempts to reflect that. The game features a variety of units for battle (most of which are unique to each faction), which may be broadly categorised into infantry, cavalry, archers, and artillery. Each has an optimal style of use, opposing units against which it is most vulnerable or effective, formation settings, defensive and offensive hit points, and morale. If a unit's morale drops too low it becomes uncontrollable, and its soldiers try to flee the field.[10] The base level of morale may be influenced by the command experience of the army's general (and that of the enemy general), its level of combat experience, and the nature of the unit itself. On the battlefield, this is further affected by the soldiers' level of fatigue, intimidation by the enemy army, whether it holds a tactically advantageous position, the terrain type, proximity to the army's general, and the number of casualties already taken. Players may attempt to gain the morale advantage by flanking an enemy's units, focusing attacks on the enemy general, conserving energy by walking rather than running, or switching archers to using the slower but more intimidating flaming arrows.

Each unit has a certain distance it can travel on the campaign map in one turn, with cavalry able to travel the farthest, and artillery the most limited. Movement varies according to the type of terrain being traversed, the type of roads present, and, at times, the attributes of the commanding general.


Each faction starts with a set of family members composed of its leader, his spouse and children including a faction heir, and any of their spouses and grandchildren. Only the male members are controllable, once they reach 16 years old. They govern settlements when stationed in a city, and when deployed upon the world map, they command armies. Male family members are added to the family by births between married family members, as well as adoption and marriage. Family members eventually die, either naturally through old age or by death in battle, assassination or due to natural disasters. If no generals commands a field army, a captain commands by default. Admirals fulfill a similar function for fleets. Neither are family members, but appear in the list of forces when displayed. However, if a captain is victorious in a battle in which the odds are against him, the player may have the option of adopting the captain.

Julii family member with several traits and his retinue. Family members can command troops in tactical battles and help maintain order in cities, with effectiveness depending on their level of experience. Character traits can prove to cause both beneficial advantages as well as weaknesses to the character.

Family members can acquire traits depending on their actions in battle or in governing a city. These can have both positive and negative effects on their command, management, and influence, which in turn affect their battlefield performance and how happy a province's populace receives their governance. Some of these traits are hereditary, and can be passed to his children. Family members can also acquire ancillaries by the same actions; these are members of a general's retinue, but can only number up to eight. These characters can be traded between family members if they are in the same army or city.


Agents can also acquire traits and specific ancillaries, which can be traded, but only with other agents of the same type. They can independently cross into other territories (allied, neutral or hostile) without diplomatic consequences. There are three types of agents: spies, diplomats, and assassins. Spies can be used to gather intelligence on field armies, infiltrate foreign cities to identify enemy installations, and serve in a counter-espionage role in the players own cities. When besieging an enemy city, the player may plant a spy in the city and use him to open the city's gates. Diplomats can negotiate with other factions, offering deals such as alliances and trade rights. They may also attempt to bribe enemy armies and agents. Assassins are used to assassinate enemy family members, or other agents. They can also sabotage buildings in enemy settlements. These missions carry a risk of death for the agent, as is the case with spies.


The game's campaign begins with three playable Roman factions: Julii, Brutii, and Scipii. After completing a campaign, eight additional factions are unlocked: The Greek Cities, Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, Carthage, Gaul, Germania, Britannia, and Parthia. You can also unlock these factions in the more settings menu. The nonplayable factions (in the campaign) are: Macedon, Pontus, Armenia, Numidia, Scythia, Dacia, Thrace, Spain, the Senate of Rome (which rarely expands beyond Rome itself), and the rebel faction.

Historical battles[edit]

Separately from the campaigns, several historical battles are available for the player to re-enact. The player usually takes command of the army that is outnumbered or which, in history, lost (or both). The battles are as follows, with the army under the player's control in italics.


Barbarian Invasion[edit]

Barbarian Invasion allows the player to take control of the barbarian nations of Europe and the Middle East during the migration period. It also adds a more complex portrayal of religion, with changes in the state religion affecting unrest and the popularity of the ruling family. The campaign takes place from 363 AD to 476 AD.


The Alexander expansion puts the player in the role of Alexander the Great and replays his conquests and battles. The campaign takes place from 336 BC to 323 BC.


A demo was released on 23 August 2004 and is freely available for download. It features a playable version of the Battle of River Trebia, with the player taking the role of the brilliant general Hannibal.[11]

Prior to release, a preliminary but completely workable version of the game engine was used in two series of TV programs: Decisive Battles by the History Channel where it was used to recreate famous historical battles,[12] and Time Commanders by BBC Two, where teams of novice non-gamers commanded ancient armies to replay key battles of antiquity. The game engine was fine-tuned specifically for these television shows by military historians for maximum historical accuracy. In addition, both series had the same music track as the battles in Rome: Total War.

The original music soundtrack for the game was composed by Jeff van Dyck, who received a BAFTA (British Academy) Interactive Awards nomination for his work. His wife Angela van Dyck features in some of the vocals including Forever, which plays during the game's credits; Angela also wrote the lyrics for the song "Divinitus", written in quasi-Latin.

Due to the shutdown of GameSpy's multiplayer services in May 2014, the game was migrated to Steamworks as of patch 1.51.

An iPad version, developed by Feral Interactive, was announced on August 12, 2016[13] and released on November 10, 2016. The iPhone version was released on August 23, 2018.[14] The Android version has been announced on November 8, 2018 for a release date in winter 2018.[15]


Rome: Total War allows for the manipulation of some game resources, including its text files and textures, which has led to the creation of many modifications. This includes unit editing, the ability to control previously unplayable factions, and total conversion mods such as Rome: Total Realism and Europa Barbarorum. There are major modifications covering eras of human history from the 9th century BC to early 19th century, and put in fantasy settings like Middle-earth and the Warhammer universe.



According to The NPD Group, Rome: Total War was the 20th-best-selling computer game of 2004.[16] It maintained this position on NPD's annual computer game sales chart for the following year.[17] In the United States alone, the game sold 390,000 copies and earned $16.8 million by August 2006. At the time, this led Edge to declare it the country's 40th-best-selling computer game, and best-selling Total War title, released since January 2000. The series as a whole, including Rome, sold 1.3 million units in the United States by August 2006.[18] By 2013, Rome: Total War alone had totaled 876,000 sales in the region.[19] It also received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[20] indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[21]

Rome sold at least 100,000 units in the German market by December 2004.[22]

Critical reviews[edit]

Aggregate score
MetacriticPC: 92/100[23]
iOS: 83/100[24]
Review scores
Game Informer7.75/10[27]
Game RevolutionA−[28]
GameSpy4.5/5 stars[30]
X-Play5/5 stars[25]

The game received "universal acclaim" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[23] Many reviewers regarded it as one of the best strategy games of all time; it won numerous awards and high scores from gaming websites and magazines alike.

Computer Games Magazine named Rome: Total War the fifth-best computer game of 2004. The editors wrote, "If there's a magic formula for how to make a great strategy game, Creative Assembly has it down pat."[34] The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated Rome as their 2004 "Strategy Game of the Year (Real-Time)", although it lost to Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.[35]


On 2 July 2012, The Creative Assembly announced the development of Total War: Rome II as the next edition of the Total War series.[36] Rome II became its successor on 3 September 2013 when it was released, featuring gameplay during the time of the Roman Republic and Empire, a larger campaign map, as well as a number of game mechanics both new and carried over from previous Total War entries.


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  3. ^ "ROME: Total War offers epic battles and massive empires on iPhone". Feral Interactive. Feral Interactive. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  4. ^ "The full glory of ROME: Total War — now on Android | Feral News". Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  5. ^ "Rome: Total War". Total War. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Metacritic (August 26, 2016). "Ranked: Best and Worst Computer Strategy Games". Metacritic.
  7. ^ a b "IGN's Top 100 Games (#20-#11)". IGN. 2005.
  8. ^ PC Gamer staff (February 16, 2011). "The 100 best PC games of all time (#10-#1)". PC Gamer UK. Archived from the original on February 19, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  9. ^ PC Zone staff (May 20, 2007). "The 101 best PC games ever, part four (Page 3)". PC Zone. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  10. ^ Lost Battles, Philip Sabin, page xvii
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  12. ^ Gaudiosi, John (May 17, 2004). "Rome: First a Game, Now on TV". Wired. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Scammell, David (August 12, 2016). "Rome: Total War is coming to iPad". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  14. ^ Hood, Vic (August 15, 2018). "rome-total-war-for-iphone-lands-on-august-23". Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  15. ^ "A joyful Saturnalia in prospect for Android with ROME: Total War". November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  16. ^ Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry; 2005 Sales, Demographics and Usage Data (PDF) (Report). Entertainment Software Association. May 18, 2005. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 4, 2005.
  17. ^ "Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry; 2006 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data" (PDF). Entertainment Software Association. May 10, 2006. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 21, 2006.
  18. ^ Edge Staff (August 25, 2006). "The Top 100 PC Games of the 21st Century". Edge. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012.
  19. ^ Gaudiosi, John (August 8, 2013). "Sega is refashioning itself as a PC game maker". CNNMoney. Archived from the original on January 26, 2014.
  20. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Platinum". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on May 15, 2009.
  21. ^ Caoili, Eric (November 26, 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on September 18, 2017.
  22. ^ " - News - Zwei weitere Topseller erhalten VUD-Ehrungen". 30 November 2018.
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  24. ^ "ROME: Total War for iPhone/iPad Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  25. ^ Bemis, Greg (October 27, 2004). "Rome: Total War Review". X-Play. Archived from the original on March 5, 2005.
  26. ^ Gillen, Kieron (October 1, 2004). "Rome: Total War". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  27. ^ Biessener, Adam (November 2004). "Rome: Total War". Game Informer (139): 165. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  28. ^ Ferris, Duke (October 8, 2004). "Rome: Total War Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  29. ^ Ocampo, Jason (September 23, 2004). "Rome: Total War Review". GameSpot. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  30. ^ Kosak, Dave (September 22, 2004). "GameSpy: Rome: Total War". GameSpy. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  31. ^ Butts, Steve (September 22, 2004). "Rome: Total War". IGN. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  32. ^ "Rome: Total War". PC Gamer: 76. November 2004.
  33. ^ Adams, Dan; Butts, Steve; Onyett, Charles (March 16, 2007). "Top 25 PC Games of All Time (Page 3)". IGN. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  34. ^ Staff (March 2005). "The Best of 2004; The 14th Annual Computer Games Awards". Computer Games Magazine (172): 48–56.
  35. ^ Editors of CGW (March 2005). "2004 Games of the Year". Computer Gaming World (249): 56–67.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  36. ^ MacDonald, Keza (July 2, 2012). "Sega Announces Total War: Rome II". IGN. Retrieved July 2, 2012.

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