Review – Total War: Rome Remastered

Quick up front confession. I don’t exactly understand why someone would ultimately play this over Total War: Rome II. I get the novelty and nostalgia reasons to try it sure. It’s a “new” Total War experience, and a chance for newcomers to see the franchise’s origins. And for those who played before, it’s a chance to replay the past but prettier and smoother. But outside that, and once those reasons run out, I just don’t see the lasting appeal. Yes it’s fun, in the same ways every Total War is fun. This remaster is well done in almost every way, and is more along the lines of a full remake. Yet compared to Rome II (not to mention Total War: Warhammer and Three Kingdoms), Total War: Rome Remastered simply feels dated in a way 4k graphics just can’t change.

Elephants sir!

Rome wasn’t my first Total War, that privilege goes to Medieval. So I went into this remaster free of any nostalgia. Mostly I was just curious about how it played. How different it was from modern games. If there was anything lost to time that shouldn’t have been. And what had been improved upon in the many years since. In this regard, the remaster has been most interesting. It’s been a joy to take a trip down the franchise’s memory lane. Seeing how after all this time, Total War has actually remained very close to it’s roots. The way it plays, feels, even looks is very close to any modern Total War game.

Like, the game does look really really good. But not too good that performance is destroyed with high unit sizes.

For those people who’ve decided to read a review for Total War: Rome Remastered, and don’t know what kind of game it is, here goes. It’s a 4X/RTS hybrid basically. The 4X side of the game is focused on war, although later titles have increased the presence of the other 3 elements. But the franchise is called Total War, and thus war is always the answer. This is even truer in an earlier titles like Rome, where things like diplomacy were in their utter infacy. And exploration is limited to just uncovering the fog of war. This is probably the hardest thing about playing Rome Remastered. Later Total War‘s just have so much variety, even Rome II, and it feels boring going back. 

Still though, there’s plenty of good things. This is still a Total War game, so the AI is always a source of entertainment. 4X games always have so much going on, and since Total War has two entire modes to program for, it’s twice the fun. While the battle AI’s nonsense can make the game easy, the erratic behavior of the campaign AI is as great as always. While this too is improved in later games (especially Warhammer), I love Rome‘s just as much. It’s really what sets this franchise part from others, the AI just has so much character. Civ AI is just annoying, and Paradox AI’s really hit and miss. Total War AI is just the king. Always cheating, makes nonsense decisions frequently, and is always changing it’s mind over everything.

In the far past, there is only war.

Likewise, the combat is as solid as always. This is when the rock, paper, scissors, of TW combat was fairly pure. Infantry beats cav, cav beats Ranged, and ranged melts infantry. Basically. Even in Rome Remastered, there’s more to combat than just this. But it’s the foundation this game’s RTS combat was formed on, and this early in the franchise hadn’t deviated that much. Especially not compared to Troy or Warhammer. Still it may be simpler, but that doesn’t make it any less fun or easier for that matter. Battles are in the classic style, which means longer and more grueling (meant here as a good thing). That combined with the classic fun that is the campaign map experience, makes for a classic fun Total War experience.  

Then there’s the new graphics. Granted, they aren’t amazing. As far as the series go, I’d say they fall solidly in the middle, somewhere around Empire and Medieval 2. Far ahead of what it originally looked like, but still behind modern entries and behind even Rome II. Units looks great, the environment sharp and vivid, and the textures go all the way up into natural 4k if you so desire. Although to me, the file size isn’t exactly worth that level of fidelity. Still, it looks great. looking more like a remake than a remaster. Although I bet they called it a remaster because people would expect a modern level look for something called a remake. To be fair, a modern Rome remake does technically exist, we just call it Rome II...

For those of us that DO want to play as the legendary Pontus.

 

Total War: Rome Remastered is a tough one. It’s dated, and despite being a simpler title not a gateway into the franchise. Three Kingdoms is the easiest entry for newcomers, Warhammer is king of variety, and Troy is the intriguing one. Then there’s Rome II which is the currently leading classic Total War experience. Rome Remastered is kinda…just there. I honestly wonder why it was even chosen to be remastered, I feel like we’d be having a totally different conversation if it was Medieval instead. Still it’s here, it’s fun, and it looks great. So if you’re looking to experience some classic classic Total War gameplay, then this is exactly what you’re looking for. Everyone else, there are better Total Wars available. For cheaper too.

Graphics: 8.0

It looks good, but still a far cry from modern Total Wars. Still, it’s a long step above a remaster.

Gameplay: 7.5

The core Total War gameplay loop hasn’t changed all that much since Rome was new. Still, things have certainly been improved on over the last 17 years.

Sound: 9.0

The music is just as great as it has always been and voice acting is surprisingly well done.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Outside a fairly bland UI, it’s a very well done remaster both gameplay and visual wise. It maintains the original’s quirks while making it easier to play.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Total War: Rome Remastered is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Total War: Rome Remastered was provided by the publisher.