In the early stages of life, video games went hand-in-hand with anticipation. Release dates didn’t matter, what mattered is when the next holiday was, or when someone older than you was dumb enough to take you to a FuncoLand/EB Games/GameStop, knowing it would destroy whatever good habits you’ve set up for yourself. In this day and age, and at a post-graduate period of my life, I don’t do that anymore. I figure out what I can get, and I get it. But there are some games that manage to cut through the clutter and have me circling their release date on a calendar. The most recent game was Total War: Rome 2, and boy, is it a disappointment.
The rush of getting Total War: Rome 2 is like entering a new relationship, but playing Total War: Rome 2 is like finding out your significant other loves rich people way more than she could ever love you. Total War: Rome 2 is, at this point in time, a lie of a relationship. Creative Assembly, the developers behind Total War: Rome 2, promised that if you were able to run their past game Total War: Shogun 2, you can run this one fine. At this point in time, that is a straight up lie. There is a major graphical patch slated for tomorrow, but for now this game brings only sadness. Instead of continuing down this road of vague terms, I managed to focus my gripe into two coherent points.
1) My game is significantly slower than a camera.
I got seven frames-per-second at one point. Seven. What the hell, man. You know what you can do with seven frames-per-second? Almost nothing. A still photograph, maybe? The frame-rate is making this game practically unplayable. If the loading screens weren’t so static, it would be a chore to get past that. The really sad thing about this though, is that Rome 2 is considerably different than Shogun 2, a game that scaled pretty well. And when Creative Assembly released a workout for the low frame rate, by running the game in windowed mode, they failed to tell you that the window mode would effectively cut off about an inch from the bottom. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if most of the game’s functions didn’t exist in button form about an inch from the bottom. So much pain.
2) Wow this map is huge… too huge
Shogun 2 obviously took place in Japan. Japan is a fairly small, focused country that during their Warring States period, was thrown into total chaos. In other words, a perfect setting for a Total War game. The map felt dynamic. Controlling any area gave you a sense of strategic advancement because land is hard to come by in Shogun 2. And each faction, no matter how minor, could carve themselves a foothold in Japan. And most importantly, no play-through felt the same. Rome 2 does not do this. The map is gigantic, spanning from Britain to India, and unlike Empire: Total War where there were different theaters of war, this is one, continuous, tedious theatre. If you start a game as Parthia you will not reach Rome. Even Pontus will have trouble reaching Rome. It’s that big, and it makes some of the more interesting factions feel like a chore. A chore! Maybe the Shimazu and Date clans aside, nothing about getting to Kyoto felt like a chore in Shogun 2. And more than anything, in Shogun 2, the very defined map gives itself an omnipresent feel of both danger and opportunity. At any moment you can strategically turn the tides of battle. Rome 2, much like the Roman Empire itself, is wrecked with mismanagement. Every direction your army goes feels like a travel towards an abyss, and in this game no roads lead to Rome.
In conclusion, this review is somewhat pending. Because the good is that there is a patch on Friday that will hopefully fix any graphic problems. But with the good, there is the bad. That Friday patch will probably never fix this beast of a map. And of course, when you have a good and bad, you need the ugly. And there is an ugly. Because Creative Assembly has never said that the patch will help with scaling down. Meaning there’s a chance that if you’re getting 7 FPS, you will be playing Total War: Rome 2 via a series of still photos. Total War: Rome 2: Photo Album Edition.