Just thought I would change tack for a while and give a fan's appreciation of an old PC war gaming classic - Rome Total War.
Now in its fifth year since release in 2004 this masterpiece is a progressive derivative of Shogun and Medieval Total War (TW) by developers Creative Assembly.
For those who have never encountered them before, the games all follow a similar format and are split into a sprawling turn-based strategic campaign covering all aspects of empire building and real-time battles where you directly deploy and control your troops in combat. There is also a 'sandbox' battle generator that allows you to create just about any battle you wish between the wide range of races in the game and simply jump straight into the thick of it.
The depth of the game play throughout all the TW titles is impressive and still hasn't been bettered despite plenty of imitators. The game models, fatigue, experience levels, terrain, morale, generalship etc etc, to give the player plenty to think of throughout.
When I started miniatures war gaming back in 1996 there wasn't the technology around to produce multimedia, dynamic gaming classics such as this and I have to confess these games in particular were responsible for keeping me away from painting little bits of metal once I had drifted away from the hobby.
To give you an idea of real time combat, the video above shows a custom-created battle on the Dacian plains as a falx-wielding war band clashes with Auxillia on the forward edge of a Roman army. The accompanying stills above are also taken from the Dacian battle which took around two minutes to set up and played out in around fifteen. Battles can be replayed with numerous outcomes depending upon your in-game tactical decision making.
The campaign strategy map (above) where you control all aspects of your empire in turn-based detail. Campaign battles are conducted either by the AI on your behalf (not recommended) or in real time as described above.
There are those who baulk at video games' interpretation of 'war' and I can understand their attitude when looking at some of the offerings out there. However, games such as TW (in my opinion) are in a league of their own and while their loose and fast grasp on historical accuracy will no doubt make your average bearded and frustrated grognard splutter into his latest army list; they offer challenging and surprisingly deep, pick-up-and-play fun.
Oh well, I suppose it's back to my paint-splattered lumps of lead then...
All the best,