Rome Total War 2 is now what it should have been

And it is now in the realm of pretty fucking awesome.  Last year, if you bought Rome: Total War 2 it was a bit of a mistake for everyone involved, players, developers, fans, families of all involved.  I’m a long time fan of the series, having started with Medieval Total War back when it was sprites on a 3D map (looots of spriiites!!!) and it was a great game,  though the fact that it was one single fight per territory (you didn’t move your armies around inside territories in the older games) made it a bit small.  Reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan 2 by KOEI, it was still totally awesome.   Rome 1 brought the jump to 3d and was, along with Warcraft 3, the best game of the decade. While the newer games were amazing in their own right, especially Medieval 2 and Napoleon Total War, something happened during the second run of the Shogun Series to sour me on the battles– and while the strategic part of the game is important as a framework– it’s all about the fucking battles. Suddenly, they felt cartoony and too fast and too arcade like, which is silly to say since the graphic details went through the roof in quality.  When I first saw the asymmetric uniform designs of the units in Medieval 2, I got a huge claymore-sized boner for real.  Yet the battle gameplay in Shogun 2 was not good despite the game’s overall polish, I just could not get into it.  Rome 2, at first, followed suit much to many player’s disappointment.

With a series that has so much going for it, and has such pedigree it was shocking to me to suddenly get a Roman Shower from the company with the 2013 release.  I  played for about 20 hours (a SLIVER of the amount that I would normally play a big TW release)  and uninstalled the fucker until a couple months ago, when I noticed that some of the guys that make TW battle videos had switched back from Medieval 2 to Rome 2 after apparently giving up on the game.  I checked out some battles and noticed that formations worked much better, phalanxes actually PHALANXED and the archery didn’t look so shitty like it did in Shogun and Early TW.   Added to this, the Emperor Edition upgrade was free to all previous purchasers which included a massive campaign detailing the Roman Civil War.

Now I’m merely 85 hours into the grand campaign and I can say I won’t be going back to any of the other Total War games for a long while.  Over the year since release, they shined the hell out of this game.  Performance is much better, the battle AI, the battle mechanics and the flow of the game has been completely tweaked.  While battles are the most important core part of the game, the campaign play is actually where you spend most of your time and it’s far superior to the launch version.  The AI especially is now quite brutal and with suprising frequency will cause you all sorts of problems– including sea borne invasions which were impossible for the AI to pull off before Napoleon Total War (just a few versions ago!).  So you could sit as England or Italy and just send out armies to conquer everything around you on the ocean, with no chance or reprisal. Not so anymore.  I had a really tough time as Rome early on. What’s brilliant about the AI now is that if they percieve you are strong, they won’t mess with you, but if you are seen as weak, like losing a bunch of battles in a row, they will join in and try to take a piece of you before someone else does.

Later in the campaign game it becomes less about gobbling up small kingdoms and more about HUGE wars that take decades and decades to finish up (if ever) with massive empires.  Since coalitions of factions normally stick together, and factions will become client states of you (unlike other TW games where the option was there but they never would actually do it), sometimes taking out a small kingdom on your border leads to war against EVERYONE on the side of a map.  I found it out the hard way when I accidentally went to war with the entire Achemedian empire (Persia and the like).  I was able to eventually take the war to them, but not before many legions were swallowed in the desert and mountains of Asia Minor…

So here are a bunch of pictures.  This is a long post about a really great game that finally came into it’s own.  I think the developers have done right by the series after a really fucking huge misstep last year.


Crassus, Cicero, Calius, Clodius, Caesar, Cato

Cross it

I just finished Tom Holland’s “Rubicon:” a narrative history of the end of the Roman Republic: i.e.  the part where the senate mattered to the part where the senate didn’t matter any more (except to complain about stuff and get horses appointed to it) along with a lot of fighting.  It was extremely fast paced and well done and if you want to delve into a little piece of Roman history (well, a big piece actually)– this is definitely a book to pick up.  However, and this is no fault of Holland’s, one section of the book  (right before the formation of the Triumvirate of Crassus, Caesar and Pompei) deals with so many historical figures with a name starting with ‘C’ that it becomes totally insane to keep track of them.  I personally got Crassus and Cicero confused MOST of the time, which is ridiculous because they were drastically different people.  Once you get to the next tier of players (Calius, Clodius). it’s almost comical trying to keep track of people and what they did before to lead up to what their doing (and eventually, of course, how they got killed).  I only remembered Clodius because he’s the dude that dressed as a woman to hide in Caesar’s house during the women only ritual of the good goddess and got busted for it.

I would describe this phase of Roman history as the thug showdown at a massive scale.  With the exception of Cicero and Cato, the rest of the bunch, including Octavian, were total gangster thugs when in Rome and pretty much the same outside of it.  The sad fact was, however, that there was no way to survive at that level without being one FULLY.  The last man standing, of course, was Octavian who, having spoken to people who lived through Marius/Sulla and the Caesar/Pompei showdowns was fully prepared to do what needed to be done to gain total power over the Republic.   Anyway, give it a go.  As narrative history, it’s written to not be boring dry micro history or entirely academical historiography, both of which have their place, but maybe not for you.

It came from the wave 10/24

In addition to being the one week in the next month or so where the gaming industry hasn’t forced us to spend our hard earned cash, this weeks theme, if themeing of such randomness is even possible, would be “I MOUNT MY PLATYPUS!

Apparently there’s going to be a micronauts film.  I don’t really think this is possible, but what the heck.

Some awesome color photos from the late 30’s and 40’s.

Some dude despecialized the first Star Wars movie, i.e.: keeping as close to the original film while bringing it to HD quality.

I wouldn’t mind getting telefragged in this type of situation.

Close to the worst indy game I’ve ever played.

Beta stats for BF3.  Pretty amazing how many people played.  Makes you feel a bit like dust in the wind, except of course then you think again about the fact that you are a sentient being living out what is, compared to most other organisms in the biosphere, limited immortality,  in a universe that is largely filled with absolutely NOTHING — then you can feel like a unique little flower again like they taught you in the 70’s.

And then this, posted in it’s entirety:

At my old house I had this old man neighbor that would wait for me to rake my yard and then come out and use his air blower to blow the leaves from his yard into my yard. I was confused the first time I saw it happen so I didn’t think much of it. I thought to myself, “Oh he’s just an old retired boob and is sloppy with his leaf blower.” the first time it happened. But then when I went back out to rake up the leaves he had blown over I saw him in the fucking window watching and giggling.

When I went back out to rake my leaves later that month, I caught a glimpse of him in the window watching me rake the yard so I was aware that he was specifically waiting for me to be done. Sure enough, as soon as I went back in the house he came back out and did it again. I was fucking pissed. So I came back out and he wasn’t outside so I went and knocked on the door but there was no answer. The neighbor that lived on the other side of him saw me and noticed my hulk smash expression and came over and started chatting with me and said that he’d been living next door to the guy for 12 years and it has been happening the entire time he lived there. His retaliation, which I got to watch in action shortly after our conversation, was to buy a leaf blower of his own that was more powerful than his neighbor’s version, and blow all the leaves back into the guy’s yard and when the guy came out to blow them into other people’s yards again he would stand out there with his more powerful leaf blower and they’d have some super fucking silly old man leaf blowing duel shooting the shit back and forth at each other.

I didn’t have the money for the leaf blower, so I just took all of the leaves and raked them up and flipped them all over his bushes and shit so he couldn’t blow them out of there. I also started pissing all over his wife’s garden every night and killing all of the flower and sleeping soundly knowing that they were eating vegetables that had grown thanks to drinking my piss.

In the winter, the fucking guy would do the same thing with his snow blower. He’d wait for me to hand shovel the sidewalk and then blow the fucking snow from his section of sidewalk all over my front porch, walkway up to my house, and the sidewalk in front of the house. I hate shoveling, even more than raking, so I wanted to slaughter him but Midge thought that maybe if I did something nice for the guy and chatted with him he’d stop doing it. So I gave it a try and helped him out with fixing some shit in house, including his broken ass computer, and the thanks I got was he started plowing in my fucking garage door back in the alleyway. At that point I had to give him a quality sensless style shouting until he went in the garage and started brandishing some shovel or ax or something at me. This just made me even angrier so I started making a physical move towards him so he ran back in his garage and locked himself in there for awhile. After that, I started taking ALL of the dog shit from my back yard, which there was a huge amount of (two black labs worth) and threw it all over his fucking yard and continued to piss through the fence all over the areas that his wife’s gardens were