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Rome: Total War (including Barbarian Invasion and Alexander)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a good thinking game, but it has large-scale, realistic battles. No blood, but convincing sound effects get the point across. Overall, the game is full of historical and educational information, although parents may need to decipher what is real history and what's been added to make gameplay more fun. Parents should also be aware that Rome Total War can be played online, which Common Sense Media does not recommend for anyone under 12.
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What's it about?
The original ROME: TOTAL WAR is set from 270 BC to 14 AD, roughly following the transformation of the Roman Republic, controlled by the Senate, into the dictatorship of the Roman Empire. Following many campaigns against the other civilizations of the era, players attempt to gain total control of Rome and become the dictator of the Roman Empire. Both expansion packs, BARBARIAN INVASION and ALEXANDER, require the original game to play and are more difficult. Barbarian Invasion is set after the split of the Roman Empire into the Western and Eastern Empires and chronicles the decline of the Western empire; Alexander doesn't focus on Rome, instead following the conquest of Greek warrior Alexander the Great.
Is it any good?
Rome: Total War and its two expansion packs are all brilliantly designed. The games are complex, but players will grow comfortable operating within them after half an hour or so. Players will appreciate that they have many strategic options but never feel blogged down in micromanagement. Even the tutorials are fun to play.
The games are a mix of real-time and turn-based strategy. The large-scale battles are impressive to behold, if somewhat gory. Be prepared for realistic depictions of men (and a few women) being speared, run over by chariots, thrown by elephants or cut down by swords.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how great warriors and their conquests are used as a plot for many games, movies, and books. What's so appealing about warriors and wars? Is this a good way to learn about history? Are you more likely to remember something you saw in a game versus reading a history textbook? Are there any liabilities to learning this way?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.