Ignoring that this game was an absolute joke on release day (yes, I'm still bitter about getting duped into pre-ordering so I could use one of the factions included in the game without having to pay for it), it's still a huge disappointment. The Emperor Edition is a massive improvement, but still falls way short of what was promised. Even with all the patches, the game is a big step back from Shogun 2.
Firstly, the game is lifeless and boring. I've yet to even get close to year 0 in a save and I've probably started about 20 of them. Just look at the hours I've spent playing this game. I've tried so hard since the day it was released to get into a save in this game, and it's never happened. All of the screenshots and promotional media for this game looked amazing and captivating, but that feeling never materalizes in the actual game. I never have the urge to expand my empire, or make my enemies pay for crossing me. It just feels like I'm engaging in a strategy (if you want to call it that) exercise against AI, nothing more. CA have sucked the life out of this series by dumbing down things like politics and diplomacy, and removing things like family trees for no aparent reason. The best feeling I got from this game was when I finally accepted that I wasted my money on it and uninstalled it from my system.
The AI is still horrendously bad. It's a million times better than it was at release, but it's still terrible. It's so easy to learn AI tendencies, and it takes a huge amount of restraint to stop myself from exploiting them. Battle AI is really bad, but luckily there are a lot of mods that can fix this and actually make it enjoyable. At the same time, there's only so much modders can do to cover up CA's mistakes, and it's really sad that CA needs other people to fix their game for them to make it playable.
Campaign AI is atrocious and not even challenging. There's hardly any logic in the strategy of AI factions. They don't seem to care about defending their cities and they never create any type of organized, strategic attack. The only way to make the game challenging is to put the difficulty on very hard, so the AI can just churn out full stacks at will and send them at you one by one. Even then, it just turns into a game of fending off the armies, one or two at a time, until the AI does something inexplicably stupid to give you the advantage. It's extremely frustrating to have a back and forth war with an AI faction over one of its settlements, only to have that faction just randomly move all of its armies away from that settlement, basically allowing you to walk right in and take it. This type of thing happens ALL OF THE TIME and takes all of the intensity and excitment out of wars.
Some parts of the game are still broken, even in the Emperor Edition. Sieges are somehow even worse than Shogun 2. City gates are broken. Any unit can just burn down a gate by throwing flaming sticks at it, but then they are unable to walk through it. I'm not even sure if battering rams work at all. Ladders and siege towers kind of work though (at least with the overhaul mod that I've used), so there's that.
Obviously the game is still addicting in some way, as it's managed to get me to pour 200+ hours into it, but it feels more like I've wasted a massive part of my life trying to get this game to entertain me than anything else. People who have never played a Total War game before may find this game neat because of the setting and the battles (which are absolutely a standout feature for this series when compared to other strategy games), but those of us who have played TW games before know how much of a disappointment this was. For those who disagree with me: go back and look at the promotional videos that CA released prior to the game's launch and compare that to what we paid for. I've not experienced anything close to what was advertised, and I've yet to see anyone who has been able to make this game look anywhere near the way it did in the videos of the ♥♥♥♥in alpha (that CA said was still going to be further optimized). It still looks cool at times--some of the cities having unique features on the battle map is a really cool feature, and the campaign map looks by far the best it has in any game of the series.
Overall, Rome 2 was a huge failure and a waste of time for everyone involved. It actually compares really unfavorably to Rome 1 and Medeival 2 from 10 years ago. CA has already rushed into making another game, Atilla, which is really just a remake of one of Rome 1's expansions released as a full game. I will not even be touching that game unless it gets great reviews and goes on sale for <$20. You'd have to be a fool to preorder that game after the trainwreck that was Rome 2's launch. CA has used up all the good faith it built from its early games and deserves to be under heavy scrutiny going forward.
As for anyone thinking about buying this game, I would strongly recommend not to. Even if its heavily discounted, it's really not worth the time that you will pour into it before finally accepting that it's just not a good game. I would suggest waiting for Atilla's release and seeing what the community consensus is (let's not forget how many gaming websites gave Rome 2 highly favorable reviews at launch). Hopefully CA will get its act together and release what Rome 2 should have been.
+Campaign map looks really good compared to other games in the series
+Modding community is amazing and did CA a huge favor by saving this game before CA could make it playable on its own
-The AI is so bad that it's really hard to actually use strategy in a meaningful way
-No immersion due to features from previous games being streamlined or removed
-Game was released with numerous broken features and many of these features still remain broken despite all the patches
-Really disappoints graphically in a lot of areas