Total War: Rome II

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Release Date: 20/06/2013

Total War Rome 2 Preview for PC at GAME

Onwards To Victory!

It's been too long since PC gamers have had the chance to lead the forces of Rome on a glorious mission of conquest across the face of Europe. Luckily, Creative Assembly has been hard at work creating the best Total War game yet, so this September armchair generals from all around the world will be able to get stuck into battle with everything from pike men and battleships, to groups of war elephants.

Total War: Rome II promises to be a landmark release for strategy fans, in other words: huge tactical skirmishes, deep long-term campaigns, and unprecedented options for customising your army and fighting for victory in your own specific manner. Rome II isn't just about the pleasures of being the most powerful nation on the planet - it's about the nail-biting series of gambits and alliances that gets you to that point. Grab a shield and let's go.

On The Offensive

On the battlefield, Rome II promises to be epic, yet personal. A new unit camera allows you to place your viewpoint right behind individual groups of soldiers as they race into battle, scattering their enemies as they get stuck in with swords and shields. New animations allow you to see the terror on the faces of your foes as you race towards them, while improved physics has charges sending bodies sailing through the air and landing in crumpled heaps. Nasty!

Total War Rome II Preview for PC at GAME

At the other end of the spectrum, a new tactical view allows you to pull all the way out until you're viewing the entire battle from above. Here's where you can plot that pincer movement that will crush your enemy's base, or piece together your ragged forces for one last push.

New viewing perspectives aren't the only boon, of course. Rome II offers tons of deadly units, maps with a greater emphasis on terrain differences, and - a first for the series - the ability to control land and naval units on the same map. Maybe your centurions are well on their way to crushing Ptolemy's Egypt on a coastline map. As you push home your advantage and try to take the enemy's base, you'll always have to keep an eye out to sea to make sure your wily foe isn't landing troops on the beach behind you.

The Bigger Picture

Outside of the real-time battling, the strategy side of things is also looking confident and expansive. After picking which of three factions of the Roman Republic to lead to victory, you'll find yourself on a huge, detailed 3D map that covers Europe, a good chunk of the middle east, and a long spar of North Africa. There are plenty of enemy factions to win over through either conquest or diplomacy, and basic systems have been streamlined to allow for a much larger scope.

Total War Rome II Preview for PC at GAME

Provinces are a case in point. These are now gathered together into regions, each of which has its own bureaucratic centre. This means that controlling your territory is now far less fiddly, but you still get all the bonuses that come with a larger reach. Elsewhere, the decisions made by your enemies should be easier to understand, since you can hover a mouse over your relationships tab at any point to see what they currently think of you - whether they've forgiven you for that recent incursion, say, or whether they like the fact that you share a common foe.

On top of that, your legions and generals can now level up over the course of a game, earning XP that can be spent on new skills. You're encouraged to create legions that work as specialist units: one might be great at taking damage, for example. Legions are no longer destroyed if you take a whopping defeat in battle, incidentally - the legion is greater than any individual unit within it, and hopefully you'll really start to identify with specific parts of your army.

Both battlefields and the campaign map are delivered with glorious visuals and wonderfully stylish interfaces, and the scale of some of the one-off battles have to be seen to be believed. As legions race across the Mediterranean sand and elephants bellow with rage, this is probably the closest you'll have ever been to the pitched battles of the classical era. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it's going to be hard to wait for this game to hit shelves later on this year.

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