Yep. Got a few screenshots I haven't otherwise seen, and the DLC is Rise of the Samurai indeed!
However, apparently you have to be over 18 to buy PC Gamer nowadays, so I'll get a transcription down ASAP
And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
EnemyofJupitor HG Alumnus Superbus
posted 09 July 2012 09:26
3 / 10
Quoted from PC Gamer:
Thirteen years after the original Shogun, the appeal of Total War can still be summed up with a single word: scope. Creative Assembly's ability to simulate war at the level of the individual fighter while making a game that is won or lost on a national scale as driven the series since its inception. If you wanted to show someone why TW was col back in 1999 you'd first show them the abstract campaign map, then zoom in on the rows of flat little sprite-samurai marching and scrapping in real time. Technology has changed, but that series-defining flourish hasn't. Creative Assembly's world-first demonstration of Rome II beings with the sound of voices over drifting smoke: the senate of the Roman Republic, around 151 BC, ordering the total destruction of their long-standing foe, Carthage. A younger voice rises, offering to lead the armies. This is Scipio Aemilianus, adopted grandson of the general who beat Hannibal. Giving voice to the drama and personality of history at this level is something the TW series has always been good at- but it's still a surprise that the first thing I actually see is a close-up of Scipio himself, on board a Roman Bireme, speaking to a subordinate. Rome II runs on a new engine that boasts full facial animation, and there's something uncanny about seeing a general actually turn, gesture and speak in a TW game. It's a little stiff, but a far cry from the near-motionless man on a horse rattling off a canned speech. Scipios ship is loaded with infantry who fidget and shuffle and hop about in anticipation of the battle ahead. The camera pulls back to reveal dozens of Roman warships, each loaded with troops, approaching the North African coast. Ahead of them, across a short stretch of sand and a few hastily-assembled barricades, are the walls of Carthage. In R2, there is no longer a technical distinction between land and see battles: if the circumstances demand it, one can lead to another, or they can run concurrently. Carthage itself is vast, easily the largest and most detailed city seen in a TW game. Smoke rises, arrows arc towards the Roman fleet. Defenders mass on the walls. The Romans reach the shore and the troops spil out of the biremes, forming into lines and wedges. At this point, the camera is at the approximate height that TW players will be used to, and the sense of familiarity this creates is the first proper sign that this demo is happening in-engine. The game is still a long way from alpha, however. The demo appears scripted, thought the camera is being controlled live. It's best seen as a proof of concept of the new kind of cinematic conflict CA want to present with R2: the biggest battles in the series' history, fought by its most detailed soldiers. "There's something very special about TW in terms of scale," says lead designer James Russell. "if you look at a battle, you have incredible detail close up and you zoom out and see thousands and thousands of soldiers on the battlefield, ad we really want to push both ends of that spectrum in R2." As they reach the walls of Carthage, the roman troops spread out. One cohort, including Scipio, readies siege towers and begins to approach the most thickly defended part of the enemy line. Another takes advantage of a breach in the walls caused by off-shore catapult fire. The camera zooms back in. We're inside the siege tower from the perspective of a man in his unit. Scipio barks a few more orders, there's a moment of silence, then the boarding ramp comes crashing down and the Romans charge into the blinding sunlight. It's extraordinarily dramatic and it grants the fight for the battlements a sense of urgency and danger it wouldn't otherwise have had. CA haven't yet decided how moments like this will work as pat of regular skirmishes- the siege of Carthage itself is likely to end up as a standalone historical battle- but ti's something they're keen to explore. "[For] the whole game, we're trying to create something with a human face, with its own history and its own background," lead battle designer Jamie Ferguson told me. "Every part and every piece feels like something important to the game. You really do feel that everything you do and say, and that every decision you make is important." The drive to humanise war is something that comes up again and again. Doing away with what Ferguson calls "the little men drone experience"- the feeling you're commanding an army of humanoid ants- is at the forefront of CA's ambition. On the walls of the city, Roman and Carthaginian soldiers split off into 1-on-1 duels that are longer and better animated than those in Shogun 2. When a killing blow is struck, it's because of something perceptible: a mistimed lunge or faulty footwork that suggests human error rather than unforgiving battle-maths.
Harbouring enemies As Scipio's men take the walls, the flanking force pushes through the breach, entering the city near its harbour. As they spread out into formation, two catapult-carrying Roman warships enter the mouth of the dock, providing fire support against towers further ahead. At a nearby crossroads, Carthaginian troops form a defensive line. The expanded scope works both ways- although we're not shown it, R2 will feature a new tactical view for battles. Pressing a key will zoom out to a kilometer-square area of the battlefield, the positions of various units represented by banners. It won't be possible to micromanage the whole battle from this perspective, but it should reduce the amount of time players spend wheeling the camera around trying to take everything in. For this demo, whoever, that's exactly what the team are going to do. Scipio's cohort joins the battle in the street with a flanking manoeuvre that traps the Carthaginian defenders. Smoke from numerous fires throughout the city begins to thicken and subtly alter the lighting profile. "Lighting can make or break an environment," says lead artist Kevin McDowell. "Every time we approach a lighting setup we want a clear idea of what we're trying to evoke with that lighting. Everything's got to work." For a city under siege that means harsh, angled sunlight and foreboding gloom. S2 stood out because it was the first time that every aspect of a TW game, from battles to the interface, all cohered as part of a single artistic direction. R2 is showing the first signs of continuing that trend. Western audiences are far more familiar with ancient warfare than they are with feudal Japan, so there's a huge amount of pressure to give R2 its own identity. To that game, the design of the game has been constructed from first principles- original archaeological sources, filtered through a process of research and artistic licence. "What we aim to do when we're building places in all of our games is really get to grips with the reference material and understands which bits are iconographic for that culture," McDowell says. "Even to the point where we will take bits of different buildings and combine them into what we think is the perfect example of that kind of building." For some cultures, that's easier said than done. While a vast amount of source material exists for Rome, the original Carthage was- spoilers!- burned to the ground and rebuilt by its conquerors. The version we're seeing on the screen is a work of informed conjecture. The TW team have taken what material does exist and extrapolated it into a believable place, taking the principles of Greek design that are likely to have inspired the city and adding appropriate detail, like a large statue of the Carthaginian goddess Tanit. There's a deliberately rough, lived-in edge to the design. "Anything you see has been worn or is in use," says McDowell. "all of our guys have got battle scars, and their equipment isn't necessarily new." Carthaginian buildings are chipped at the edges and marred with graffiti. CA have looked at the physiques of mixed martial arts fighters to create troops that look like they could hold their own in hand-to-hand combat. "Look at Roman carvings- like on Trajan's Column- and look at those guys in all their gear," McDowell says. "If you look at their physique, and then you look at an MMA guy, you're like "oh Jesus they match."" Scipio's troops continue their progress towards the centre of the city. Large sieges like this one will have multiple dynamic objectives, from taking the walls to securing key locations one by one. Incoming Roman catapult fire causes a defensive tower to topple, and the camera zooms down to street level to watch it fall. Men tumble from it as it collapses. Scipio charges into shot, then stops to yell at his men. Seamlessly, the demo has transitioned into a cutscene. There's a brief lull in the fighting, followed by a bellowed order to hold the line. A charging line of war elephants emerges from the smoke and bears down on the consul. Abruptly, the battle is over. Scipio Aemilianus looks across the burning skyline of Carthage and gives his famous order to raze the city. "This is a great victory," he says. "But I fear that one day someone may give the same order for Rome." For all its demonstration-ending bombast, it's a line genuinely attributed to Scipio by the historian Polybius This merging of the cinematic and the historical is a neat summation of CA's ambitions for R2. There's a lot we're not shone- the campaign game, for instance- but CA are willing to let a few details slip. "What we're trying to do is create a game where warfare is more meaningful," says Jamie Ferguson. "We're placing more importance on battles- that when an army turns up it is and army. You find that the campaign game doesn't look like it did in previous games." Individual armies will be more significant than ever, and they'll fight fewer, larger, more significant battles. The approach will hopefully do away with the busywork that occasionally creeps into TW games in the form of auto-resolved skirmishes between handfuls of scattered units. Fewer armies also mean more control over their composition. The Romans were resourceful when it came to appropriating foreign technology, and that will be reflected by giving the player a degree of control over how units are equipped. Ferguson uses the example of the spatha, the Roman Cavalry sword. Introduced by Germanic troops, it didn't becomes part of the Roman war machine until late in the Imperial period. If players want to introduce it earlier, however, then CA are keen to give them the freedom to do so.
Made Marian "The point of TW games isn't just to recreat history," Ferguson told me. "What we're trying to do is get a counterfactual history going. We start from a historical point of view and from that point onwards, it's about layer interactions with the AI and their environment." There's still debate about how certain historical factors will be represented. I asked Ferguson whether the Marian reforms- the hugely important transformation of the Roman military into a professional army by the Republican statesman Gaius Marius- would be something that the player would execute piece-by-piece, or if they would represent a fixed moment in history. "We're looking at that as being some part of the gameplay," he says. "Whether that's through passing laws, or through buildings- or is it just a function of the experience of the unit? Whenever we do a TW game we don't sit down with a fixed set of rules about how we're going to make the game." CA are driven to recreate history systematically, by establishing a set of circumstances and then letting the player determine the rest. The way Ferguson descries the mechanics of the campaign game suggests that R2 will have a more fluid political system than previous games "Looking back, you could think that the [history of] the Roman republic was a foregone conclusion- but there's no reason to suggest that, for example, instead of an empire developing they couldn't have gone back towards kingship. Julius Caesar was famously offered a crown. We allow the player to make those decisions, and allow them to shape history." That is why the focus on the human aspect of warfare- the trailer-friendly aspect, if you're feeling cynical- is promising. In order to deliver on the promise of a macro-scale historical sandbox, the simulation of battle has to start with the individual soldier. Rome was built by people, and Roman history is exciting because of them. TW is still a one-trick series, but it's a really good trick, and the rewards for pulling it off are bigger than ever.
And I shall go Softly into the Night Taking my Dreams As will You
Punic Hebil Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 09 July 2012 11:31
4 / 10
Looks like we will be able to equip our soldiers, or at least modify their equipment, going by the article.
Also, could you post a picture or two of the screens you haven't seen yet?
Sounds to me like the Total War crew has looked at the universalis games for increasing the depth of the campaign map. I sure hope they dont follow the message pop up system of universalis, though it wouldn't be so much a problem in a turn-based game.