Roman over to a battle

by Shane Dillon

SEEING as my time machine is stubbornly preventing me from leapfrogging forward to September 17’s release of Grand Theft Auto V, here’s a review of just-released Farming Simulator 2013, available now for the XBox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, instead, which will really test whether you know your Case IH multirotors from your Deutz-Fahr balers, and –

Nah, only joking – let’s look at Total War: Rome 2 on the PC instead! Cool!

It’s the long-awaited sequel to the hugely-enjoyable Total War: Rome, which tested have-a-go praetorian’s skills to the limits in a tough-but-fair  strategy game, pitting thousands of your soldiers against the computer, or other players, in historically accurate or influenced battles.

Never has shouting “Send in the elephants!” been as much fun, I can tell you, as Stompy and friends were deployed to mop up annoying archers and the like.

Now, with TR:R2, its developer Creative Assembly has returned to lay waste to the strategy genre, stuffed to the gills with improvements and additions to its already illustrious predecessor.

With several playable factions to choose from, with soliders and strategies from the likes of the Roman Republic, Macedon, Carthage and more  – each of which has its own unique skills, strengths and weaknesses, there’s an empire of content to get stuck into.

Once again, players can follow the standard turn-based growth of their empire, as well as jumping in to real-time battles to command in person, and, hopefully, not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Apart from the challenge of commanding such battles yourself – with literally thousands of soldiers clashing in a vast, increasingly chaotic battlefield – the empire you set up is equally challenging to master, with countless economic, diplomatic and cultural choices to account for.

After all, a neglected province or two here, a weakened border there, and even your iron grip could quickly rust away.

Once you throw in the expanded importance and capabilities of naval units and waterborne battles, you have a truly vast game to keep tacticians and battlemasters of all ages busy until the next Roman empire rises. (At which case, feel free to start shouting about elephants.)

Speaking of our big, grey friends, the elephant in the room for such a review has to be the specs needed to run this game.

As is usual these days, your PC will have to be pretty damn powerful to get this beast of a game up and running, as it’s even more power-hungry than your empire-ruling (or failing) alter ego is.

However, assuming you have a rig that can cope with it, TW:R2 is an extremely pretty game in most respects, providing a clear view of everything going right (or wrong) as your own individual empire expands (or collapses). Have fun storming the castle!

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