The Roman expedition to reclaim the lost lands of the Western Empire progresses well. The Vandalic Kingdom in Africa lies in ashes, reclaimed for my Emperor, the Ostrogothic Kingdom is on the back foot, crushed under the might of The Last Roman. But I, Belisarius am not satisfied. The machinations of the Emperor, his wife and my own wife are becoming tiresome. I am declaring independence, and creating a new Western Roman Empire.
It was a mistake.
The Last Roman
is a campaign expansion pack for Attila: Total War
, in it you take on the role of General Belisarius, tasked by Emperor Justinian of the Eastern Roman Empire to reclaim the lands of a destroyed Western Rome. There are five playable factions, the barbarian Ostrogoths, Franks, Vandals and Visigoths and the Roman Expedition. The first of these four work like any other faction in the base Attila
- you have some land and some armies, you expand.
The interesting part of this expansion however is the gameplay when you are the Expedition. Acting much like a horde does in Attila you have no cities, but instead rely on production facilities carried around with your army, having to make camp to build or improve anything. At first, the measly two armies you are granted in order to take back the entirety of the Western Roman Empire present a daunting challenge, particularly since you are immediately pitted against the strong Vandalic Kingdom, and the ability to build a new army is granted sparingly.
The most effective way of building up your forces is by partaking in the story missions offered by the Emperor, his wife and your own wife. These stories give background in the history of Rome, and the political situation in the Eastern Empire. Your decisions in these story moments can either hurt or hinder the expedition; some choices will grant you more armies, reinforcements from home, some will give you money. Others will earn you the ire of people back home, and make help less likely to come. These story moments bring you closer to your faction leader, and you begin to genuinely care that he remains unharmed.
Each time an expedition army takes a city or town, there are only two options presented; "reclaim" and "declare independence." Reclaiming a town or city returns that region to the control of the Emperor. This definitely creates a different game to the base. You're acting on another faction's behalf and, with the story moments, this can lead to an interesting game.
However, the poor campaign AI (an ongoing issue with Total War
games, and one currently fixed by a number of very good mods) tends to shy away from defending those towns or cities you are approaching, meaning that even on "very hard" each turn ends up being a series of depressingly easy sieges. This can become increasingly tedious, and means that the game misses out. A strong AI should defend itself, and attempt to retake those cities already reclaimed, meaning that any attack has to be well thought out, considering the limited resources of the Expedition.
If you grow tired of endless conquering the other option, "declare independence", offers a more traditional Total War
experience. The conquered region will become yours, and you will declare yourself emperor. Again, the AI's reluctance to attack cities means that this eventually falls flat. I would have liked the emperor to come and try to bring me to heel by overwhelming force.
Overall, the campaign is different enough - with it's new factions, map and units, as well as the story moments from
the expedition campaign - that it is worth the money and will bring a few hours' diversion. But ultimately the old Total War
issue - the lack of unit variety and poor AI - continue to nip at its heels. It is worth mentioning that these issues are both valiantly fixed by the modding community, however.
+ Story-based campaign brings a refreshing and in-depth change.
+ Being mostly reliant on another faction for military growth is an interesting twist.
+ New map is detailed and offers more tactical challenges.
+ New units look good despite the lack of variety
-Poor campaign AI.
- Campaign can become repetitive, particularly in the mid game.
- Lack of unit variety
SPOnG Score: 7/10