Well.....reviewing this game is hard. For it's time, it was without a doubt one of, if not the greatest, strategy games of all time. However, comparing it to newer Total Wars,(except for ROME II, that is something else entirely) it lacks in several things, notably historical accuracy, diplomacy, and managing your government. For one, in historical accuracy, there are multiple nations(like Gaul, Spain, Greece, etc.) that are unified nations even though in real life they were a divided people, with seperate clans, city states, etc. but for some reason CA mashed a lot of city states and tribes together to form unified nations, which is complete bogus. Also, in historical accuracy, Egypt is not Hellenistic at ALL. They still have traditional Egyptian Paganism as their religion, and their units are traditional Egypitan ones, even though Egypt was now practically a Middle Eastern copy of Greece thanks to Alexander the Great. In diplomacy, there are very few options(some examples are trade rights, allaince, map info, etc.) and, therefore, made diplomacy lose it's immersion. Finnaly, there is governemnt. For Roman factions, the Republic government is fairly adequately displayed, but in general, there really is no "government system" like in Empire Total War, although there is a family tree where you can set the faction heir, adding a bit of spice to government. If we put those those things aside, you will find a true classic of a strategy game-and I'm pretty sure most people here would agree with me. In a time where graphics made people look like horrible mutants, AI was as smart as your neighborhood stray dog, and strategy games lacked a lot of actual strategy, this game was revolutionary. The graphics, although considered inferior to today's games, probably looked like real life to a lot of players back in 2004....me included. The jump from the previous Total War, Medieval, to Rome's graphics was absoultely stunning. The AI (which, to be honest, is not very much smarter than the neighborhood stray) was practically as smart as Albert Einstein for players back then. Diplomacy, while lacking in true immersion, added a whole new level of strategy to games, as this system was pretty much only used in previous Total Wars, and even then it was really basic. And government, while being very basic, also adds to the strategy of the game, as you scramble to find a sutiable heir for your glorious (or, more often than not, not-so-glorious) empire. Speaking of empires, there are 20 factions, with about half of them playable, half not playable. Technically, there is a 21st faction, the Rebels. The rebels not only represent actual rebels, which I am perfectley ok with, but they also represent "minor factions" that CA left out of the game, which is kinda sloppy to me. However, all-in-all, the campaign is amazing. Now..on to battles. It is not possible to manage a nation without going to war, and this game certainly does not oppose that fact. You will end up in countless battles, usually with random weaklings who think they are gangstas and are better than you, but you will often find yourself matched against a worthy foe. If it is a land, battle, you can do one of three things-Fight the battle out on a battle map, have the computer auto resolve the battle, or retreat. For naval battles, you only have the auto resolve option. For the battle map, you and everyone involved-whheter or not they are on your side-will command various units that can be trained in cities if you have the proper buildings. You command these soldiers to victory-or defeat-against the enemy. I personally belive CA did a great job on the battle mehcnaic of the game
If you like Total War games, strategy games in general, video games in general, or if you like life, then buy this game. Even if you don't like life, still buy it. This is a true classic of a strategy game, and you would be a fool to pass on it.