As I’ve only played the game for a few hours, just long enough to beat the prologue and play as the Danes for a very short while, this is only a first impression of the game – Be assured, I’ll be doing a complete Ramblings On once I’ve tried out a few other factions and just generally gotten a better feel for the game as a whole.
I had a very mild complaint with Total War: Rome 2 when it came out – if we ignore the bugs and the rocky launch and the somewhat inept AI – and that complaint was that it was, simply ‘too big’. I didn’t feel like I could really concentrate on any one aspect of it, because there was so much going on and factions I had never even met declaring war on me for no real reason. Although I enjoyed the game, it didn’t hold my attention for as long as the earlier iterations of the series did, even if we include the DLC campaigns and the free upgrade to the Imperator edition.
I was reticent about purchasing Attila, simply because I knew it would have the same aspects of Rome 2 that I didn’t like and, unfortunately, it has expanded on them. The politics system, for example, is essentially worthless – it isn’t a fun mechanic and it feels like it has been integrated for the sake of innovation.
One of the main changes that I’ve noticed, so far, are the changes to the General/Army ranking system, which has turned into a generalised skill tree rather than picking out different skills. Now, you can direct your armies and leaders down specific pathways depending on what attributes you want that army to possess, whether that be they are better at looting, raiding, sailing, or have more specific subsets of units, such as missile units, cavalry or melee infantry. Again, this doesn’t really feel like an improvement, but something that has been changed simply so that Creative Assembly can show that they have changed aspects of the game for a new release.
Obviously, the main change to the game’s mechanics are the way cities can be captured. Whereas, previously, there was the opportunity to either loot, occupy or raze a city – with each action resulting in a different outcome – these choices have become far more integral to the way you play the game. Now, you can completely raze a city, so that there is nothing besides the ruins of the city, and any faction can take the ruins over, so long as they have a hell of a lot of money to resettle the area. It does provide an interesting new mechanic, particularly in relation to the ‘new’ migration aspect of the campaign.
Clearly realising that some of the better innovations have been made before, Creative Assembly have leant heavily on the Barbarian Invasion expansion for the original Rome: Total War, and a sceptic (albeit an honest sceptic) could say that Attila is little more than a combination of this expansion and Rome 2.
Obviously, with such a wide, expansive game as Total War, I can’t decide on a definitive opinion after only a few hours playing the thing, but I am slightly disappointed with it at the moment. There is a nagging feeling that Total War: Attila didn’t need to be a stand-alone game and is, rather, the game that Rome II should have been.