3am: Rome on holiday
TomChick - News - 10/09/04 - Link

Based on a couple of hours of pushing pieces and watching battles unfold, I like Rome: Total War a lot. Creative Assembly is an exciting developer for how steadily they've improved their basic game with each successive expansion pack and sequel. From Shogun's Warlords pack to Medieval to the Viking expansion and now to Rome, they've built on a basic design without simply doing remakes with new skin jobs on the units.

But I think I'm going to put Rome on hiatus before I take it up in earnest. I've read about problems like population management exploits, incorrectly limited city growth, overpowered bribing, and suicidal general AI during tactical battles. While many of the problems sound like loopholes and exploits instead of outright bugs, it seems to be a classic instance of the maxim that games are shipped, not finished.

The irony is that I've read about these things not in critical reviews that should have pointed out these sorts of problems, but in forum posts from people who really like the game. And ironically, their observations and enthusiasm have persuaded me that Rome can wait. Creative Assembly has a reputation for tightening things up considerably with post-release patches. I'd just as soon come to Rome when the version number has incremented a digit or two.

In the meantime, it's not as if there's any shortage of good games during this busy holiday season, already crammed as it is with quality releases. There are other alternatives for Rome's real time battles: Kohan II, Dawn of War, and the upcoming Axis & Allies. As for Rome's strategic shell, here's what I've been doing to satisfy that urge.

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