Rome 2 was released back in September, which is 8 months ago. I pre-ordered this game because I love Shogun 2 and Fall of the Samurai (I bought shogun 2 on sale and then pre-ordered FotS). I played Rome 2 for around 50 hours after it released. I then stopped because I couldn't accept the numerous design flaws and "glitches"/problems with the game. My friend and I started a coop campaign just a few weeks ago after a 7 month hiatus from the game. There have been numerous patches, and guess what? The game is still in its unfinished state! The ONLY thing that the patches fixed were the de-sync coop campaign issues, or at least my friend and I aren't experiencing them now. Now I will get to the review.
PROS/Improvements over Shogun 2:
+ The game has rather nice battle maps for towns in siege battles (they look like a real town that you want to defend).
+ There is a great variety of different buildings to construct in your cities. Each building has a branching tree of slightly different types.
+ The random events are somewhat cool and definitely a fun/funny diversion. For example: One time an event told me that our crops weren't growing as they should, and that I should offer something to the Gods to help us. I chose to sacrifice a white bull and the Gods blessed me and my people. The events are random-ish and provide a good laugh.
+ There is a GREAT variety of units in the game. There are war dogs, roman Triarii, Spartan Hoplites, Etrsucan Hoplites, War Elephants, siege ballistas, slingers, many different ships, Parthian horse archers, and even barbarian warriors who don't need to wear a shirt in the cold winter. (And many, many more units).
+ Armies now have "traditions" that are basically rank-ups for them. When an army dies, you can reinstate their legacy and have a new army with the old traditions/upgrades.
+ Multiple cities form a "Province" now. Once you hold an entire province, you can put an edict into effect that provides bonuses.
+ Huge map. The map is very large and goes from Great Britain to the Middle East.
CONS/ Steps backward (anti-improvements)/questionable design choices:
- The ai cannot siege for ****. Every time the ai sieges one of cities they fail miserably, even when my chances of victory are slim to none. The ai will send their 4 siege ladders (hopefully together) without any other units to support them. They try to set up the ladders but just end up spinning in circles at my walls. Eventually, they might set up a ladder or 2, but only the unit who set it up will try to climb it. After that, the ai will send one unit or 2 at a time to one of your gates to throw torches at it. The ai fails and ends up losing all his units because he sends them to gate one at time or 2 at a time. PATHETIC.
- The ai will still do questionable moves on the campaign map sometimes. A good example would be where the ai leaves his cities unprotected while an enemy army closes in, and when a small enemy army effectively "suicides" by attacking a city of yours that has WAY more units than he has.
- There is no family tree. You have a faction with faction members, but you have no idea who they really "are." There are no fathers and no sons.
- What are gravitas?
- The battle mechanics are just ugly. When a melee unit attacks another one, they just form a moshpit with only the ones in the front having a chance to attack. If you zoom in, you will notice that most of the units are just having a staring contest. The men eventually strike the enemies or die, but those animations looked forced and not very cool.
- In my opinion, the battles are just not all that fun. When I played shogun 2 I have fun and see myself saying "that was awesome" so many times. When I play campaign in Rome 2, I try to avoid the battles altogether by auto-resolving because of the fact that I just don't find them fun to play.
- When you have ships that need to land on the beach in a battle, there are many sections of the beaches that you can't land on. The beach looks the same everywhere, except you can't land on some big random zones. Makes no sense.
- One whole year per turn. Every turn is a year, so expect all the generals and agents that you like to die quickly.
- The UI during battles takes up half of the screen.
So, those are the PROS and CONS in my opinion. I have played over 80 hours, and will play more coop campaign with my friend mainly because he likes it more than I do. Coop campaign is fun-like i guess. It is fun to see the game's numerous flaws in action. I will admit that coop campaign makes the experience somewhat fun and bearable. I do like the campaign map for the most part, but I hate the battles. The ai can't siege even when he has hundreds of more men than you have. And in battles on the open field (where the ai doesn't usually **** up) I just don't have much fun. So, battles aside, the game is not half bad; but not half good either because there aren't any family trees. But sadly, battles do matter A LOT in total war games.
Ultimately, I cannot recommend this game. If you want a total war game, get Shogun 2 and/or Fall of the Samurai, they are really, legitimately fun. And yes, the ai will beat you in a siege if they have a good advantage. If coop campaign didn't exist, I wouldn't even still be touching this game. Sadly, my friend only has rome 2 right now. When Shogun goes on sale, we'll play that. Rome 2 = Utter Disappointment.