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Rome Total War 2

July 2nd, 2012 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Ancients, Creative Assembly

So here we have the teaser trailer for the freshly announced Rome: Total War II. Given Creative Assembly’s amazing success with Shogun 2 and my own inability to resist anything vaguely Roman, I suppose I should be excited. And with drops of information being passed out (fewer armies, meaning more significant battles, for example), it seems the CA team is saying some of the right things.

But a few words about the teaser trailer.

Live action teasers can go in a lot of directions. You can go the serious route, as CA did here and as Micosoft did with Halo 3. You can go the complete other way around, too, and admit that many of our serious games are a little silly, as Paradox did with their Crusader Kings 2 “7 Deadly Sins” series. You want to evoke some kind of emotional response to the game and about the game, but also communicate your own attitude about the game. If you can’t get actors, you have people motion and gesticulate and have somber music play.

It is probably somewhat intentional that CA’s trailer evokes the HBO series, Rome. You have the stunning reversal on the Senate steps where an old man is dragged away in chains. You have a lover/courtesan/assassin plunging her hair-knife (is that a thing?) into a man’s chest. You have two Roman soldiers who appear to know each other meeting in the aftermath of a battle and the victor executing the defeated man. The tag line suggests that to gain power in Rome you will have to do unspeakable things – will you pay the price? (A silly question to ask strategy gamers who have probably starved more cities on their computer than all the tyrants of history.)

The tricky thing for CA is that this trailer does suggest emotional connections to the governing of Rome that people might hope they follow through on.

It’s not easy. For a very long time, CA has excelled at making beautiful battles on scenic maps. As attached as we have often gotten to our generals and daimyos and kings, however, few of them really lived as characters with ambitions. And, to really capture the awesome weirdness of Roman politics and intrigue would take the sort of game that Paradox failed to make in EU: Rome, but showed was possible in CK2. But these are not CA types of games. CA is a big budget movie that requires cavalry swooping in and letting the player accept the fact that a poorly ordered charge could cost them an important general or tribune or whatever.

This probably won’t be the final live action teaser for Rome. This one (“Faces of Rome”) tells only one of the many facets of any Total War game, and maybe it will be better developed in Rome 2. But it’s not like they can do a live action trailer of a siege or a naval battle. At least not convincingly.

Rome: Total War II is targeted for some time in 2013, and I’ll be following it closely. The more I learn, the more I’ll write. But for now, this teaser just sits on my screen making me wonder if anything besides the “assassination by scarlet woman” will be effectively conveyed in the final product. (They have always loved their assassinations.)


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Alan Au

    I’ll be interested to see whether the game itself skews towards the theatrical or the historical. Sure, at some level it’s the modern digital equivalent of pushing toy soldiers around, but the Rome: Total Realism mod demonstrated that players are receptive to historical accuracy. And of course, between the intrigue and skullduggery, there are still plenty of theatrics to be had without resorting to gross anachronisms and outlandish livery.

  • Rhamorim

    Do you really feel that Paradox failed to capture the intrigue and weirdness of Roman politics in EU: Rome? I’d be inclined to agree if you’re talking about the base game, but the Vae Victis expansion did an amazing job in providing some much-needed depth to the Roman politics in the game, from the composition of the Senate to civil wars to the dangers of particularly successful generals – it’s all there. It could be improved upon? No doubt (in fact, I’m looking forward to an EU: Rome 2, which will hopefully take the many lessons learned in Crusader Kings 2 into consideration), but I think it is pretty good as it is. Isn’t it?

  • Peter S

    Speaking of emotional responses, I really want to say I’m chuffed for this, but all I can muster is ambivalence. :( I never tire of praising the base Shogun 2, but Fall of the Samurai, in too many ways, was a return to CA’s bad old days. All I can do is wait and hope.

  • C Lowery

    Rome: Total War, (or Total War: Rome, or War: Total Rome or any other combination of three words and a colon) stands out for me as being one of the few, if not the only game that I could bring myself to pull the trigger and take slaves. I have an annoyingly persistent moral complex that prevents me from ever taking “evil” actions in almost any game, but in order to get anywhere in Rome War: Total you have to commit yourself to the norms of the time. I can appreciate that when handled well.

  • Troy Goodfellow


    Yeah, I think that Vae Victis didn’t really get it right. It added some important things, of course. Proper provinces, an attempt at cursus honorurm, etc. But there are too many offices and too many characters to track, the ambitions never make sense in the context of the characters and it doesn’t really get the importance of marriages and familial connections between Romans. Even as a Republic, there was a dynastic sensibility that underlay a lot of the politics. EU: Rome simply tries to do too much with the time period and buries hundreds of characters in menus and charts. Even if the stuff is all there, you never really notice it because you are too busy min/maxing governor appointments to keep the Populists down.

  • Rhamorim

    “Even if the stuff is all there, you never really notice it because you are too busy min/maxing governor appointments to keep the Populists down.”

    Agreed. Perhaps they’ll fix those problems in EU: Rome 2… one man can dream, can’t he? :-)