Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion

aka: RTW: BI
Moby ID: 19392
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This is the expansion to the strategy title, Rome: Total War. While the original dealt with the rise of the Roman Empire to glory, the conquest of the Greeks and Gauls and the clash with the Carthaginians, the expansion deals with its eventual decline. The Roman Empire splits in two, forming the Western and the Eastern Empires. Historically, the nomadic people known as the Huns, lead by the "Scourge of God" reached the gates of Rome burning everything in their way and turned back only because of famine and pestilence, while the Eastern part would rise again as the great Byzantine Empire. It is up to the player to assume the role of one of the two emperors or the warlords of the barbarian people and imitate or change history.

Once again, gameplay is split between grand real-time battles and engrossing turn-based building and managing. The core of the gameplay remains the same on the battlefield and the most significant addition is that of night battles (it seems that the barbarians favored this time for raids) and the ability to cross rivers. On a larger scale barbaric tribes such as the Huns and Vandals are not defeated if they lose their provinces, but form hordes and move to find greener lands. This feature imitates both the fearsome way in which the Huns overrun Europe and the major population shifts that took place in this dark time.

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  • 罗马:全面战争 蛮族入侵 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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129 People (115 developers, 14 thanks) · View all

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Average score: 82% (based on 24 ratings)

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Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings with 1 reviews)

Frustrating followup to the classic Rome: Total War

The Good
There's a genuinely epic feel to this game. Barbarian hordes spawn out of the East, their presence generating yet more hordes within Europe - and a horde is nothing to be sneezed at. The least of them is strong enough to flatten any three civilised cities, and the greatest - the Huns - is perfectly capable of annihilating the entire Roman empire, if it puts its mind to it.

Fortunately, that's not the hordes' plan. All they're really looking for is a home of their own.

All the Total War games give a feel for why it is that empires seem to 'want' to expand, and what happens when they stop expanding (they fall apart). Rome: Total War was a prime example, and Barbarian Invasion gives a sense of how that happened. But only a sense.

Religion plays a big part in this game, unlike earlier versions. The people of a province are won over - gradually or swiftly, depending on a lot of things - by the presence of characters and buildings, and the religions of neighboring provinces. It's a nicely developed model, and adds a lot to the game.

The Bad
"Hordes" spawn new types of units - representing uprooted civilians - which are only semi-commandable on the battlefield. Their formation is best described as "splot". Basically, everyone stands around in a big huddle. When ordered about the battlefield, they go instantly and without arguing, but also without ever changing their "huddle" formation. This is especially inconvenient if you want them to, for instance, form up along the bank of a river - half of them will be standing in the river, and getting washed away.

I'll allow that untrained people shouldn't be as flexible as trained soldiers, but surely they could manage some adaptability, in the name of self-preservation if nothing else?

But self-preservation plays no part in anyone's strategy here. All the diplomatic problems of the Total War series are present in spades. Many a faction will cheerfully annihilate itself, rather than make peace with you or even walk around your land.

There are ridiculously wide open spaces between cities, and the default spawn rate of bandits is truly tremendous. If you don't mod the game to cut down that figure quite radically, you will spend far too many hours on repetitive, pointless mowing down of barely-trained rabble.

The most annoying battlefield features of Rome: Total War have also made it into the expansion. AI armies marching to and fro in front of besieged walls, exposing themselves to volley after volley of withering arrow fire. War dogs - completely unhistorical, largely ineffective, but incredibly annoying to fight against, not least because for some reason they can't be killed. AI armies that spend hours minutely adjusting their entire line every time one of your units moves hither or yon, so by the time you engage them, they're exhausted. Ships that, when defeated in battle, respond by moving two, three, four times the distance they should be able to in a single turn.

These gripes were present in the original R:TW, and BI was a good opportunity to do something about them. But it didn't even try.

The Bottom Line
If you enjoyed Rome: Total War, then be aware that this game is different in feel and scope. If you enjoy precise, clinical battlefield tactics, if you enjoy demolishing much larger armies with your small, trained force, if you like to play strategically - defending yourself until you can deliver a crushing blow - then this game isn't for you. Strategy is largely a matter of luck: the biggest question is "which way will the hordes go?"

Windows · by Mike Kew (5) · 2009

Trivia

Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion was named Expansion of the Year in the 2005 PC Game Awards issue of Computer Games Magazine (March 2006).

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Silverblade.

Android added by Evolyzer. iPad added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Unicorn Lynx.

Game added October 3, 2005. Last modified January 20, 2024.