If you’re a big fan of the grand strategy genre like I am, you’d have to have been living under a rock to not have played or at least heard of the Total War series of games. Spanning eras of human history, each one has been enjoyable in their own way. The earliest iterations offer some of the finest experiences in strategy and one in particular, namely Total War: Rome, stands as an example of how much fun fighting complex battles and managing an entire empire can be. So, you can imagine my kid-like nostalgic hoots when I had the chance to get my hands on Total War: Rome Remastered.
As returning players, some will already be aware of how the game plays and this is largely the same as its predecessor with a couple of new features added in. For those who haven’t played this absolute gem of a strategy game before, Total War: Rome Remastered tasks you with taking control of a faction of your choice and leading them to glory. There’s plenty of options on the table too, ranging from the individual factions of Rome itself like the Julii (of Julius Caesar fame), Brutii and Scipii. Should you not be of the Roman persuasion, barbarian factions like the Gauls and Germania might tempt you to rewrite history. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you may even decide to opt for Macedon or the Seleucid empire. There’s no shortage of different factions to play and there’s at least one to cater for every playstyle, with each having their individual strengths and weaknesses.
“Should you not be of the Roman persuasion, barbarian factions like the Gauls and Germania might tempt you to rewrite history.”
Total War: Rome Remastered puts you in the hotseat of empire management. This plays out over individual turns, each spanning six-months across the period 270 BC to 14 AD. The campaign map itself covers a fairly large portion of the known world from that era and the first thing to note in line with the remaster is how crisp it now is in comparison to the Total War: Rome of old. The textures have seen a vast improvement in terms of what they were previously, and the unit models are much more refined and less blocky. Naturally, it’s not quite as pretty as some of the more recent Total War games but the fresh lick of paint makes the experience more tolerable by modern standards.
Empire management is a mixture of city building, recruitment, and planning. Money talks, and this is no different in Total War: Rome Remastered where the aim is to develop your cities carefully using various buildings to increase your income, unlock units and keep the plebians happy. The majority of your time on the campaign map will be identifying which areas of your empire need the most love. Citizens giving you a hard time and rebelling? No problem, build a temple. Money running out? That’s not an issue for glorious Rome! Build a market, fix those roads! Don’t get me wrong, you’ll have to contend with other factors like bigger cities providing squalor penalties which means you’ll have to manage each individual aspect to ensure happiness across your empire, but nothing about it feels too vexing.
“Money talks, and this is no different in Total War: Rome Remastered where the aim is to develop your cities carefully using various buildings to increase your income, unlock units and keep the plebians happy.”
Rome: Total War Remastered has also seen an improvement in the diplomacy department, with the whole experience feeling a lot more complete. If I’m being honest, in the original I had never bothered all that much with diplomacy, but it now feels like it has a proper place in managing your campaign, providing you with opportunities to use your rivals to help further your own goals. The Remaster also sees the addition of the ‘Merchant’ agent type, which provides you a way to boost your income as well as monopolise other countries’ goods to your benefit. Between assassination, diplomacy, spying, and trading, I was never short of irons in the fire to keep the campaign intriguing.
I’m aware that I’m probably making it sound simpler than it is, but the beautiful thing about Total War: Rome Remastered is that it is a lot easier than the newer titles in the series. It provides an experience that is far less micromanagement-focused and more about gloriously battling your way to victory. Speaking of battles, Total War: Rome Remastered boasts improved battle maps, better visual effects and finer unit models which really help to improve the feel of combat overall. For those who don’t know, you’re thrown into battle when your armies on the campaign map meet with an enemy troop and your met with a window that allows you to choose whether you want to manually command the battle, flee or auto-resolve. I’m a firm believer that manually controlling the battles are a lot more fun than auto-resolving, even IF you know you’re going to win. There’s nothing quite like mopping the floor with your enemy and watching your cavalry cut them down as they flee screaming… or perhaps I need therapy.
“It provides an experience that is far less micromanagement-focused and more about gloriously battling your way to victory.”
Before battle deployment, you’ll get to hear your generals giving speeches about bravery, valour and destroying your enemy. At times, I almost felt like I was in with the troops and it served to get me really fired up before some of the more challenging fights that were not in my favour. I’m not ashamed to admit that it made me a little bit sad when encounters didn’t go my way, especially since those speeches about glory had helped to make me feel more attached to my individual troops. Battles themselves consist of placing your troops into formations and working to outwit your opponent, with each unit type having a particular strength and weakness. Elements in the environment also provide additives to your strategy, with units being able to hide in forested areas or walls providing defence against an oncoming army with the option to douse them in boiling oil. The battle camera and UI have seen great improvement with the Remaster too, being infinitely easier to control and really making battles more intuitive.
As you fight your way through the ancient world, your units will become more efficient if you manage to keep them alive. Your generals will become tour-de-forces of their own too, with each having several traits that they can earn to improve (or impair) them. Try to make sure they don’t die in battle and know when you’re beaten and need to retreat; it’ll help you make easy work of the campaign, at least on the lesser difficulties. Total War: Rome Remastered also has an array of quality of life features this time around with the agent hub, quick lists and campaign overlays all serving to make the whole experience more palatable. They provides new ways to make managing your empire much easier on a turn-by-turn basis.
“Even if you’re not feeling particularly up to a full campaign, the ability to play some of the exciting historical battles from that era means that there’s always something on offer in Total War: Rome Remastered.”
Both the short and long campaign modes provide hours of strategizing and there’s plenty of replayability between the array of factions to choose, as well as from the included expansion content (Barbarian Invasion and Alexander). Even if you’re not feeling particularly up to a full campaign, the ability to play some of the exciting historical battles from that era means that there’s always something on offer in Total War: Rome Remastered. In terms of performance, even with the updated graphics the game ran perfectly smooth, though I did encounter one hard-crash in my time with the game. Given that I’ve plugged around forty or so hours into it though, that’s pretty stable and the autosave served to make sure I lost no progress at all.
I love revisiting gaming memories from my youth, and Total War: Rome Remastered definitely scratched that itch for me. Sure, it may not have all the bells and whistles of modern Total War games but there’s something wonderful about its simplicity in comparison. It has seen plenty of improvements to modernise the experience and make it more intuitive too, so it certainly doesn’t feel like a game that released in 2004.
Whether you’re a first timer or returning once again to gloriously conquer your enemies, you won’t go far wrong with Total War: Rome Remastered.
Developer: Creative Assembly, Feral Interactive
Click here to visit the official website.