Total Weekend War: Creative Assembly Finally Fixed Rome II

 

It only took three patches, with a fourth on the way, but Creative Assembly has finally wrestled Total War: Rome II into a playable state. Not only is the game playable, but I can report after some significant conquests this week that it is actually quite fun.

The British developers fixed the release version’s major problem, turn-processing, which comprised the introduction to my extremely cantankerous review. Roughly a month after release, hitting the “End Turn” button now results in the brisk cycle through AI turns you’d expect, not the epic slog the game initially offered, which felt like reading Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in Esperanto. Even later on in the campaign, when AI armies proliferate, longer per-faction turn times are offset by the fact that most of the minnows have already been swallowed up, leaving fewer factions to wait through.

Quicker turns means more turns, which means practically everything to a game like Rome II. More experience with high-level units, buildings, and technologies. More opportunities to test the various mechanics, many of which have been effectively re-balanced. More tactical, deliberate wars, waged without the kind of desperation that a minute-long wait between turns can cause.

I was able to try out a greater variety of different factions, which gives a good sense of the scope of the game and the different experiences it can provide. I ended up spending most of my time with the Averni (better known as the Gauls), carving out a huge empire in central Europe in memory of my childhood buddies Asterix and Obelix.

 

Egypt, too, is a fun choice, with a strong starting position which shows off the campaign map’s navigable Nile. Naval units can simply sail right down, which seems obvious, but how many other strategy games actually offer it? In the Caucasus, an experiment with Parthia and Pontus was abandoned early due to the Eastern Empires’ profusion of aggravating skirmisher cavalry units. Before moving on, though, I did notice a clever Game of Thrones Easter egg: Eastern Spy units borrow some distinctive dialogue from a fan-favorite character, the mysterious assassin Jaqen H’ghar.

Three patches have also yielded an arsenal of minor tweaks, some noticeable, some not. Frame-rates are more stable, both on the campaign map and while navigating the various menus. Battles feel much more in keeping with the series’ history; units stay in the fight longer, and don’t indulge in any obviously squirrely AI behavior on the battlefield itself.

That said, there’s still more to fix, possibly with Patch 4. Rebel uprisings and the city-less armies recently evicted factions still tend to launch themselves into suicidal assaults. The AI also still struggles with upgrading its armies; even 100 turns in, I was swatting aside stacks full of base-level slingers that made easy fodder for my upgraded heavy horse.

There’s also the question of why it took until just recently to get the game into working order. Conventional wisdom points to inflexible scheduling on the part of publishers SEGA — only the people who actually worked on the game know for sure, and they’re not telling. What’s certain is that if the game had shipped without the crippling turn-processing bug I alluded to above, my review would have been completely different, and I’d wager that others would have been as well. This begs the question of why Creative Assembly and SEGA would willingly distribute with a game with such an obvious flaw — I have a hard time believing it’s something that just escaped their notice in testing. What does SEGA stand to gain with an inflexible release date that results in a critical pasting from Game Front and many others? Why does Creative Assembly make this mistake again and again, agreeing to ship before their game actually works right?

It’s a situation that shows the greedy, cynical side of the business — too many people in the games industry are happy to dazzle consumers with carefully stage-managed demos and preview coverage, collecting their money before selling them a product that will work tomorrow, next week, next month. It’s not like you can hand over $30 and tell SEGA that the next $30 will be provided in a future patch. As I said in my review, I hope there are lessons learned on both sides of these Total War transactions, although, again, I wouldn’t count on it. At least now we can spend the weekend enjoying the game as it was meant to be played.

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12 Comments on Total Weekend War: Creative Assembly Finally Fixed Rome II

Aedelric

On October 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

You are full of it Ben, the game is a disaster zone even after the third patch.

A large quantity of people still have bad performance and the artificial intelligence is still an absolute joke. As for enjoyable gameplay, that is up to the individual, but to me the arcade style combat and constant streamlining of features is a bad move for franchise that had strategy and depth at its core.

Quinsec

On October 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I disagree Aedelric. I’m currently running with the patch 4 beta, and I’m rather enjoying myself. Sure, I still hit the occasional glitch and occasional stupid AI behavior – but nothing game breaking. The game has vastly improved and is playable.

The Total War series has never had any depth to it, and has always been arcadey – look at anything by Paradox and then try to tell me the previous Total War games had depth. The “streamlining” of features mostly is cleaning up bad UI. For example, city management in the past has been a total mess. In the early games, you just built every building you could, in Empire and Napoleon you had to click all over the map to find building to build, and they finally got close to right with Shogun 2. The province system is outstanding. Granted, there’s still some things I’d like to see cleaned up – the remaining glitches, politics, and those bloody siege torches, but it’s enjoyable.

Aedelric

On October 6, 2013 at 1:09 am

Quinsec, read the article, Ben says the game is fixed after only three patches

“It only took three patches”

You are on the -fourth- beta patch which has over a hundred and fourty or so extra fixes.

“I’m currently running with the patch 4 beta”

You can disagree as is your prerogative, but that does not mean I am wrong,. Patch three did very little to fix the game for many, many people.

Regardless the game is quite the joke at the moment, best avoided unless it is in a discount bin or has two expansions under its belt. CA themselves admit the game is a mess in their open letter to the community.

Quinsec

On October 6, 2013 at 5:51 am

When the author said “it took only three patches, and a fourth on the way,” I took it as sarcasm. I think you’re out of line flaming him. The game should have worked on launch, and it’s taken three patches to get it to a somewhat playable state – and again, I emphasize, it is playable now.

I think you’re seeing the entire series through rose-colored glasses – Empire was a broken mess on launch, too (and it took more than a month for it to be playable.) Diplomacy was non-existent in most of the earlier titles (it seems to work now, by the way, in Beta 4,) when everyone simply declared war on you for no reason – even allies. The early games were just spamming armies to fight everyone on the map. There was no depth, at all. I used to play EU3 or CK2 to get my history depth fix, and then just play around with Total War for the battles.

You’re free to have your own opinion, just as I am and just as the author is, but there’s no need to flame people who are enjoying the game now.

Aedelric

On October 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

Somewhat playable is a gross exaggeration, as it stands the game is an embarrassment to CA. It has a metacritic user score of 3.8, the worst of any game they have ever made, patch or not it is still a disaster zone that needs to be avoided by the wise.

I do not have an idealistic view of any of their past games, Empire Total War was a disgrace when it was released even after patches it was sub-par but with Napoleon it pulled itself back. Medieval II was quite buggy and lacking, after kingdoms it was a decent game.

I am coming to my conclusion not due to nostalgia but experience, this legitimately is the worst they have ever done, barely functional AI, the excessive stripping of features and shoddy performance issues is not something to be glossed over. Patch three barely helps any of the major issues and the flames are very much deserved in this case.

I doubt a “Rome II is fixed” news article can really be taken seriously till a solid expansion is out, as is often the case with CA.

Dragon84

On October 8, 2013 at 2:04 am

I feel I have to speak up here, as those that have had the worst problems are the only ones speaking abut Total War: Rome 2. I’ve found the game to be really great fun, the only issues I had on day one was enemy AI not making a last stand, but that’s been fixed up now. I’d like to see better frame rate but maybe my 5870 is a little to old to be expecting to much.

Also have put into perspective 4 patches in such a short amount of time with such extensive fixes is nothing compared to rubbish service I’ve received from larger Devs such as bioware – patches months apart with few fixes… Rome 2 should not have been this way on day one but they have responded well and fast.

Henri

On October 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

lol @ burning metal gates. throwing a few torches at a city does NOT equal an epic strategic battle.

Really lol

On October 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm

It’s fixed???? For me it’s still a nightmare. I hate how gaming reporters sold out to the big names in industry, especially sega. Give me a break. Ill stick with Angry Joe for further updates on games.

Dropkick Cleary

On October 15, 2013 at 8:03 am

The inflexible release date has to do with the rules under which corporate entities exist. It is extremely damaging for a corporation to deliver a late product under the revenue reporting rules.

Mas

On November 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I beg your pardon, fixed?

The texture problems, flying building, broken siege maps, broken mechanics, broken units not to mention huge memory leaks and you call this game fixed…

Unit stuttering while maintaining 50fps:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI3XNKhLP-0

Huge fps drop (from 50 to 8) when selecting agent:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEG2zjdEj04

Yngvald

On December 31, 2013 at 1:37 am

Who bribed you? The game is still an utter disaster.

TotalwarVeteran

On January 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

In this article…

lies.