Top mods - Total War and Oblivion

Written by Phil Hartup

May 18, 2006 // 10:23 a.m.

Tags: #elder-scrolls #oblivion #rome #total-conversion #total-war

Companies: #mod

Rome Total War

It is perfectly conceivable that there are some people in the world who don't rate Rome Total War as a classic strategy game. It is by no means a perfect game (particularly to hard core fans of the series who loved the historical attention to detail of Medieval Total War), but you can't please all the people all of the time.

Or maybe you can.

With over 300 mods available at the Total War Centre, the range of tweaks, adjustments and extra units available is vast. Two of the best currently available total conversions for Rome: Total War are the Europa Barbarorum and the Rome Total Realism mods.

Rome Total Realism has the advantage of having been completed and further refined for some time. When dealing with player-made mods this is not something to take lightly, as a huge number of projects fizzle out and remain unfinished. Finding a project on this massive scale that has been seen through to completion is rather like striking gold. The latest revision of the mod, 6, was released on January 1st 2006 and is available to download from the team's site.

Top mods - Total War and Oblivion Rome Top mods - Total War and Oblivion Rome
Rome's original Egyptians look like Stargate extras (left) - Total Realism reacreates their proper uniforms with historical accuracy (right).

The changes in Rome Total Realism gear it much more towards the hard core players and fans of the original game, Medieval Total War, with its slower meat-grinder battles. Gone are the rather silly units like the war dogs and incendiary pigs, to be replaced by a veritable horde of re-textured and more historically accurate troop types. All in all the Rome Total Realism conversion boasts seventeen playable factions, with the Romans condensed into a single faction rather than being spread over three families and the Senate. With over two hundred unit types and an extended campaign map this means that a campaign is a long, time consuming endeavour, yet equally a richly challenging and enjoyable one.

Settlement and army management is not greatly changed in the Total Realism mod, although it has been made harder to simply storm a province and start churning out soldiers there. Romans aren't built in a day any more.

Perhaps the most noticeable change to Rome Total Realism is in battle, where the dynamics have changed substantially. The changes themselves are slight in nature, increases to defensive values and morale predominantly, but it means that battles which in the vanilla game would be over in a matter of seconds from the impact of the first charge now last a lot longer, as soldiers doggedly hold their ground and soak up more punishment. This makes fights more enjoyable, as you get time to savour the big clashes of armies which in the vanilla game tended to be over before they really started. This change means that fatigue plays a much bigger part in conflicts, because your troops really will feel the effects of those long exchanges - so use of more advanced tactics (such as holding back a reserve) becomes important. Total Realism also incorporates changes to the AI, causing it to hold its General back more, meaning that fewer fights will be ended by the computer recklessly flinging it's command unit into the front line.

Top mods - Total War and Oblivion Rome Top mods - Total War and Oblivion Rome
On the left, standard Rome only lets you play a limited number of factions once you've conquered them. Total Realism gives you a whole lot more!

The graphics in Rome Total Realism are also improved over the original game, yet with no loss in performance. The improvement comes more from the concept than the quality, as the units have a grubbier, less shiny look about them compared the originals. The most noticeable difference is to the Egyptians, now correctly named the Ptolemaics, who have ditched the cheesy Stargate wannabe concept of the original game and are now tooled up in the appropriate manner.
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