Rome: Total War
|Rome: Total War|
|Developer(s)||The Creative Assembly|
|Director(s)||Michael M. Simpson|
|Composer(s)||Jeff van Dyck|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, iOS|
|Genre(s)||Real-time tactics, turn-based strategy|
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, who released the iPad version on November 10, 2016, and the iPhone version on August 23, 2018. 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), 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. It has been well received by gamers, going on to generate a persistent and loyal modding fanbase.
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).
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
- Battle of Asculum, 279 BC: Roman Republic vs. Epirus (represented erroneously ingame by the Seleucid Empire)
- Siege of Sparta, 272 BC: Epirus (represented erroneously in game by the Seleucid Empire) vs. Sparta
- Battle of Telamon, 225 BC: Gauls vs. Roman Republic
- Battle of Trebia, 218 BC: Carthage vs. Roman Republic
- Battle of Raphia, 217 BC: Seleucid Empire vs. Ptolemaic Empire (with a largely inaccurate army based largely on New Kingdom soldiers)
- Battle of Lake Trasimene, 217 BC: Roman Republic vs. Carthage
- Battle of Cynoscephalae, 197 BC: Roman Republic vs. Macedon
- Battle of Carrhae, 53 BC: Roman Republic vs. Parthian Empire
- Siege of Gergovia, 52 BC: Roman Republic vs. Gauls
- Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, 9 AD: Roman Empire vs. Germanic tribes
More battles were added with the Barbarian Invasion and Alexander expansion packs. The battles added with Barbarian Invasion, of which there were only two, were:
- Battle of Chalons, 451 AD: Huns vs. Western Roman Empire and Visigoths
- Battle of Badon Hill, 516 AD: Romano-Britons and Alemanni (They expanded into present-day Alsace, and northern Switzerland, never landed in British isles, possibly Sarmatians "Knight" or Romanization Celtic) vs. Saxons
In Alexander, the historical battles took the form of a linear narrative detailing Alexander the Great's life and conquests. The player was restricted to playing as the Macedonians in each battle, and had to be victorious in a battle to unlock the next in the sequence. The battles were:
- Battle of Chaeronea, 338 BC: Macedon vs. Thebes and Athens (In this battle the player is restricted to command of the cavalry wing of the Macedonian army, while the computer controls the main force. This reflects Alexander's command of the cavalry in reality while his father Philip commanded the main body of the army)
- Battle of the Granicus, 334 BC: Macedon vs. Achaemenid Empire
- Siege of Halicarnassus, 334 BC: Macedon vs. Achaemenid Empire
- Battle of Issus, 333 BC: Macedon vs. Achaemenid Empire
- Battle of Gaugamela, 331 BC: Macedon vs. Achaemenid Empire
- Battle of the Hydaspes, 326 BC: Macedon vs. Pauravas
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.
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, 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.
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. It maintained this position on NPD's annual computer game sales chart for the following year. 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. By 2013, Rome: Total War alone had totaled 876,000 sales in the region. It also received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
The game received "universal acclaim" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. 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.
- PC Gamer (UK): All time 5th best PC game "95%"
- IGN: Editor's Choice Award, 4th Best PC Game of all Time, 14th Best Game of all Time.
- PC Gamer (US): Editor's Choice, Best Strategy Game of 2004
- GameSpot: Editor's Choice, Strategy Game of 2004
- Adrenaline Vault: Seal of Excellence
- GameSpy: Editor's Choice
- E3 2003 Game Critics Awards: Best Strategy Game
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." 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.
On 2 July 2012, The Creative Assembly announced the development of Total War: Rome II as the next edition of the Total War series. 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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