Options Explained

By Terikel Grayhair

Many of us have or have had questions concerning how to get the most pleasure out of our favorite game. Many of the answers are found in the Options, the one page most people use once then forget about. Other people have no idea of what the terms mean, playing with various settings until satisfied, or bored, or confused. Hopefully this article will relieve the boredom, eliminate the confusion, and speed up the finding of the perfect set-up for your rig to maximize playing pleasure.

Options are chosen directly from the opening splash screen. When you click on Options, you see the Options splash screen with your various choices for tweaking and enhancing your game. Already on this screen there is important information for you - hiding there in plain view in the upper right corner. This is the version of Rome:Total War you are currently playing.

From this screen, you can choose which of the following categories of options you wish to modify: Video, Audio, Camera, Control, and view the credits. This last brings up a list of those who helped create this game we all so love. The others will be discussed in detail.

Video

This section concerns the eye-candy and visual enjoyment of the game. Upon the screen are displayed four choices - Battle Screen Resolution, Campaign Screen Resolution, Performance, and Show Advanced Options.

For the screen resolutions, choose the one that best fits your monitor. As a general rule, the higher the number you choose in resolution, the sharper the picture. But some older models cannot display high-resolution pictures, and some newer ones have problems showing the lower resolutions. For me, 1024x768 pixels works best, but that's because it suits my normal screen. The third number describes coloring or bits.

When you click on the Show Advanced Options box, you will immediately see a host of choices.

Most of these are the degrees of detail on the various objects on the screen- Terrain Detail, Building Detail, Unit Detail, Effect Detail, Vegetation Detail, and Grass Detail. All of these affect the detailing of the objects- low for less detail, Highest for very sharp detail. Be advised when selecting these that the more High-Highest detailing you choose, the more processing capacity will be used by the game to present these in the format you choose- which may affect processing time for the battle. If your battles are running slowly, you may want to downgrade selected detailing to a lower setting. Likewise, if your rig has plenty of power to spare, turn up the detailing for extra visual enjoyment while you slay and conquer.

Three of the options here require explanation or further information. They are Anti-Aliasing, Unit Shaders, and Unit Scale.

Anti-Aliasing reduces jagged edges around objects and diagonal lines. When a picture (which is a collection of colored dots called pixels) is transformed from one resolution to another, some of the pixels acquire the code of another. This code is identical to its neighbor, thus it becomes an alias of its neighbor. Anti-Aliasing is a process that goes through the pixels and removes the aliases, providing a finer picture and less jagged edges. This process demands processor time, which can result in slower play, and turns your Printscreen screenshots into black tgas in your tga folder, as it considers the entire screenshot an alias. But having it off will result in your soldiers having hairy spears and jagged lances. CA thought of this, which is why they give the option of Low Anti-Aliasing - a process which smoothes the edges yet requires less processing capacity. This option may not be available on all computers and versions, but it is worth checking for.

Unit Scale is the second option. This setting determines the amount of men in your units. Small Scale units are half the size of Normal. Large Scale units have twice as many men as normal. And Huge uses four times as many soldiers.

While Huge scale gives battles a more 'real' feel, not all rigs can handle the processing of thousands of individual soldiers without noticeable lagging. Another caveat is that units draw their manpower from the population of the town where they are recruited. Thus if you recruit a Huge unit of peasants from Trier, you drained Trier of 240 citizens in creating your unit. In populous cities, this is not a problem, in fact, it is often desired. But in small towns you are trying to grow to major centers, the creation of two-three units of peasants or spear warbands can effectively reduce the town to the bare minimum of 400 citizens and make it take an eternity to repopulate.

Unit Shaders is the third. This option may not be necessary to have checked on every computer- it depends on your video card. On my computer, I see absolutely no difference when I have this checked or unchecked. Others see a major difference- the legs and feet of their soldiers are sticks and clumps if unchecked. If human-looking legs are important to you, check this box. If your rig has power to spare, check the box. If you have little power or don't care about stick-legs, uncheck. Your choice.

Other video options

These are mostly self-explanatory:

  • Widescreen
  • Shadows
  • Smoke\Dust
  • Reflections\Glints

The last one of these smaller options, Desynchronise Animations, requires some detail. Originally, I thought Desynch Animations meant the men in the units would not be in synchronization with each other, giving more individuality. Cool! I thought then- but that was a wrong assumption. What this actually does is remove the lag time from the computations. When it is unchecked, the computer will put together every unit's animations, synchronize them, and then display them. With Desynch checked, the computer no longer waits for the synchronization - it merely displays the action. Quite handy!

Audio Options

This screen basically allows you to set the volume of the various components - Music, Voices, Effects. There is a Master Volume slider that governs all as well.

The Sound Provider box allows you to choose which software/hardware packet you wish to run the audio components. Some have 3D sound in a software packet, others in a hardware packet. Some may have 2D sound. Your choice is a personal preference - experiment with each available option until you find the one suiting your tastes and computer the best for your enjoyment.

Camera

This screen allows you to set the speeds of the camera.

There are several other options beside speed here. These are:

  • Restrict: checking this limits camera to locales around your units
  • Real-Time Strategy: With this checked, your camera is locked into an angle approximately twenty degrees down. Using the wheel of your mouse will raise and lower the camera's height, but the angle of view remains the same. Unchecking this frees the camera to change vertical angles, so that when you use the wheel to sink the camera, it changes the angle of view first to flat, and then a bit upwards- very helpful when fighting against troops that are uphill from you.
  • General camera- checking this forces the camera to stick to your general. This is a nice option if you want to command as in the old days - deciding solely on what your general can see.



Control

Atop your menu is a set of arrows. Between these lay the currently selected menu of hot-keys and other shortcuts for the topic. Clicking on the arrows changes to other topics - Camera, Battle Menu, Strategy Menu, and Miscellaneous.

From each of these menus, double-click on the key you wish to change. Then hit the key you wish to perform this function. On the Battle Menu, for example, I use N for normal speed, and M for triple speed. Being next to each other makes sense for me, when I wish to speed up a boring part of the battle or slow to real action. Choose a set-up that works for you.

Beneath each menu there is a second set of arrows. These chose between the pre-set modes of RTS (Real-Time Strategy) and FPS (First Person Shooter). Both are simply lists of functions and the currently-assigned keys to perform that function. Change as desired.

That's about it. Tweak your settings and enjoy your game.

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