Total War: Attila
The Creative Assembly/Sega
The Roman Empire is fading and the dark ages have just begun. Gigantic hordes of savage nomads from the Central Asian steppes have come to apply the death blow to the teetering empire, as well as pillage, raze, and loot anything any anyone in their path.
In the late 4th Century, Theodosius I, the last Roman emperor to rule over both the Western and Eastern parts of the Roman Empire, announces his last decretum before he dies; that the East shall be given to his oldest son, Honorius, while the West will be ruled by his youngest, Arcadius.
The territories of the Eastern Roman Empire are relatively stable, allowing for a decent income and higher overall morale. Of course, later on in the game, Honorius and his half of the Roman Empire will eventually have to contend with the brutal Huns, as well as the legendarily powerful Sassanid Empire of Persia.
If one chooses to take the reins of the more conflicted Western half of the Roman Empire, they will find that all is not well in the former paradise. The barbaric tribes of Western Europe have set their sights on these faltering domains, and the vast majority of the estates in these areas have been grossly mishandled and this half of the empire has been overextended as a whole.
Attila can be overwhelming to new players and even veterans of the Total War series of games. Thankfully (and mercifully), there is a full-on tutorial to teach you the ropes before you are thrown to out to the wolves. These tutorials do a great job of not only explaining the new mechanics (such as sanitation), but also re-establishing the series’ staples of empire management.
One doesn’t necessarily have to play as either of the dying Emperor’s sons; playing the game’s grand campaign allows you to control one of the game’s ten main factions, over the course of decades. Depending on who you choose, victory conditions, play styles, and paths to victory may vary greatly. For instance, the Romans mainly seek to re-establish their dominance in their domains, or at least hold on to what they have left. The barbarians, on the other hand, are much more nihilistic, and are pretty much out to roll over and crush anyone in their warpath.
One feature that I really am glad has returned are the in-game cut scenes. They are mainly centered around the rise of Attila, as well as familial politics, and look incredible on a good gaming PC. As each faction is led by a ruling family, players can delve into the game’s fully developed (and complex) political system. You’ll really learn to care about the family you control, and careful decision making must be made if you are to avoid such calamitous events such as assassinations and civil wars.
Total War: Attila excels in the graphics department. The campaign map looks gorgeous, and the battles are stunning. Those with 4k gaming machines will behold gripping, realistic battles that resemble scenes out of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Fire arrows now set both buildings, and surrounding vegetation, alight, and the flame effects are simply sensational. On more than one occasion, I witnessed a few enemy units garrison within buildings in order to seek cover. I simply responded by shooting some fire arrows at them, and watched with mischievous glee as said structures were burned to the ground along with everyone in them.
It should also be mentioned that the soundtrack is incredibly immersive as well, and really sets the tone for epic conflict, reflection, strategizing, and politicking. Some of the musical pieces almost sounded as if they were wafting straight in from the ancient, vast steppes themselves.
In all, Total War: Attila is not only a masterful strategy game in its own right, but the Total War series’ crowning achievement. The Creative Assembly has really set the bar high for other strategy titles to try and reach. It’s enthralling, gorgeous, grand, and fun enough to keep one entertained for many an hour (In fact, in order to write this review I had to tear myself away from the game!).
It should be mentioned that all that glorious graphical glamour requires a pretty beefy rig to pull off properly. Here’s an excellent match that can enable players to enjoy some of Attila’s loftier graphical splendor:
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