Creative Assembly's Total War series continues to grow with the announcement of Rome: Total War, a fully fledged sequel to Medieval, a mission pack for which was only announced this month. However, there's no word on how long it will take Rome to prosper.
Rome: Total War will return players to the Roman Empire as Caesar started the ball rolling, with legions of fearsome armies at our disposal "in a bid to rewrite the annals of history and be proclaimed Imperator". Along with Caesar, players will be able to play as, or fight against, the likes of Hannibal and Spartacus.
The screen-filling Total War engine (more than two years in development), will continue to bring us epic, panoramic real time battles with forces of up to 10,000 polygonal, high detail, motion captured warriors crashing headlong into battle. Their stage? Why, the battlefields of Europe and North Africa, based on the topography of the region.
The list of units at players' disposal makes mouth-watering reading for recent Medieval graduates. On foot, we have legionaries, hoplites, barbarian hordes, war elephants and gladiators, while on the machinery front everything from scythe chariots (which sound horrible) and siege towers to battering rams and flaming catapults will be available.
It's not all about the fighting though, and Creative Assembly tells us that politics, diplomacy and gladiatorial games will all play a part in securing the position of Imperator.
This latest iteration of the Total War engine is said to be the finest yet, with the developer's MD Tim Ansell complaining that the big challenge "is getting people to believe what they see when we show them the game". A nice problem to have! "The cinematic battles are beyond anything ever before seen in a game," he boasts. "So, when people see a screenshot or the game running, they automatically assume that we're showing a cut scene or that it's going to take a super computer to run the game. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even before final optimisations the engine performance and the system specs are already very competitive."
Convinced? Take a look at these early screenshots. You soon will be.