Creative Assembly's Total War series of strategy games focuses on realistic, cinematic battles. "Total War: Rome II" is one of the most exciting new games for September, as it continues to improve on the franchise formula while making the gameplay more accessible than ever before. However, this new PC game still requires several hours of learning before you'll start to understand all of the faction-specific abilities and tools. "Total War: Rome II" is a fantastic strategy game, and if you're looking for one that will challenge you, this new PC game gives you hundreds of hours of mentally intensive gameplay.

"Total War: Rome II" does not have a traditional story, but it does have several factions you can play as with their own campaigns, including Romans, Barbarians and Macedonians. At the beginning of each campaign, players try to unite their realm and grow their civilization. Early battles are small civil-war skirmishes, but as you defeat these smaller enemies, you grow your territory and improve your technology, culture and cities. Eventually, you'll meet other factions, go to war and try to dominate the campaign map.

Many elements from previous Total War entries return to "Total War: Rome II." One of the best advancements is the in-game camera. The series stands apart from other strategy games by allowing you to focus on one character during a battle, but in "Rome II," the cinematic cameras let players see as much or as little of the map as they want. Naval combat is also improved, and each faction has its own set of siege weapons and war animals.

Unfortunately, all of this means that new players will need to spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of each faction. The long learning curve would not be a problem, except that the huge campaign map causes long load times between turns. In a five-hour game, you might actually play for two hours. Creative Assembly promises to provide support and fix the game's problems throughout its lifetime, so the load times and slow pacing may improve over time.

"Total War: Rome II" is an excellent strategy game, even with its few hiccups. This new PC game requires hours of learning before you'll get to the meat of the game, and some elements make the gameplay slower than it could be. However, if you are patient, the hundreds of hours of content make this a fantastic new game for September.


Total War: Rome II