Russell's goal is to take the emphasis off micro-management and put it on "fewer, more significant battles" instead. Among the changes, it will now be possible to take provinces and other surrounding regions without having to rush the most important city. As Russell puts it: "You're not always just head-shoting the capital." Ships will also be taking on an enlarged role. No longer mere containers or warships, ships will be able to properly capture territory, and take part in combined land and see battles. But in keeping with the theme of making it all more personal,' there will be plenty of dilemmas, some of which will be chained into mini-storylines. This is where it will be possible to throw unfortunate slaves to the lions, or maybe get together with Cleopatra. It's here that you will be able to put your personal stamp on Rome 2, even more so than in the way you organize your armies or manage your Empire. It might not be the "human level drama" that Russell is promising, but such storylines are certainly intriguing for the way they take the focus off the intense number crunching and multi-level strategy and put it on the developing narrative, if only for a little bit. For all the new mechanics, chained dilemmas, and everything else though, it's pretty clear that Rome 2's biggest selling point is its pedigree and its setting. The original Rome: Total War remains one of the most popular games in the series, and retains a loyal modding community. For more general audiences, it's hard not to get sucked into the sight of ancient armies crashing through enemy phalanxes, looting, pillaging, and burning as they go. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Total War fans as they return to their favorite game--maybe even more so than with Shogun 2. For Sega, meanwhile, the stakes seem higher than usual. Aware that they are dealing with most popular game in the series, they appear to be going all out with Total War: Rome 2. The sense is that they want to take that next step and leap into a part of the mainstream consciousness normally reserved for seminal strategy games like Civilization. Come 2013, we'll find out if Sega is indeed ready to rise to the rarefied level of the first Rome: Total War and beyond, or if it will be condemned to the ash heap of history alongside Carthage.
The massive land battles of Rome II
This Total War: Rome II preview was based on an event for the game at the publisher's office.