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In this historically accurate adventure of several thousand years ago, the player serves as a leader in the lands of Rome. By managing warfare, battlefield tactics, economics, agriculture, and diplomacy, the player utilizes everyone and everything at their disposal to crush the enemy forces and bring the corrupt Roman empire under their dominance.
This expansion to Rome: Total War, takes place in the twilight years of the western Roman Empire, allowing you to take the place of the head of a crumbling empire, a nomadic hoard, or one of the many rising Germanic tribes.
Barbarian Invasion is set some few hundred years after the campaign shown in the original and the setting is extremely different. The mighty Roman empire has fractured into two factions the Western and Eastern. Despite still having large territories there are few troops to go around, and there are hordes of barbarians such as the Goths, Vandals and Huns waiting to take advantage of any weaknesses on their borders…<br/><br/>In this game you are given the option of commanding most of the factions present from the Saxons in the far north to the Sassanids (the only faction in the add-on with elephants) in the Middle East. The campaign is more limited in that some factions only need 10-15 territories for victory, but that is not as easy as it sounds. Whereas in Rome Total War most battles might be fought with 1000 or less on each side, in the expansion you can find cities besieged by closer to 5000 barbarians! There are some changes to the game-play - some units can now swim, offering an alternative to losing many men crossing a bridge head on. Some troop types can also form shield walls and 'schiltroms', offering better protection from a head-on attack and the ability to prevent cavalry attacking infantry from the rear respectively. Superior generals can now attack at night, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also has some benefits such as archers will be less accurate at night. There are a very large number of new units as warfare has changed a little since the earlier game.<br/><br/>All in all this exciting strategy game is better suited for those people who preferred the real-time battles in RTW to the more drawn out campaign map aspect. The battles are more numerous and often challenging as there have been some improvements to the AI, making it more intelligent than before.
Rome Total War is a big step up from its predecessor set in the Medieval age in terms of graphics and game-play. You can now move the camera right into the action and watch as men are thrown into the air by charging cavalry or elephants, or fall from the walls of the cities. Indeed the siege combat stands out as a major improvement as there is a wider range of siege equipment such as ladders and towers that mean the long sieges of Medieval Total are much less frequent. There are no princesses or religious characters on the campaign map any longer which just reflects the era of the setting.<br/><br/>In Campaign mode you begin as one of the three Roman families, each have different missions assigned to them by the senate, creating varied challenges. As the Julii you will be battling your way northwards into the Gauls, Germans and Britons, all barbarian tribes that can often summon thousands of troops to the battlefield. As the Scipii you will have to conquer Sicily and aim to capture northern Africa held by the Carthaginians with their mighty war elephants. Finally as the Brutii your task is to head east and defeat their Greeks and Macedonians with their tough infantry phalanxes.<br/><br/>Once you have the completed the game with any of the Romans you are given the option of tackling the campaign again with other factions. This ranges from the Britons with their head-throwers and chariots, to the Greek Cities with their mighty infantry, but pitifully weak cavalry, to the Parthians with their lethal cavalry, but woeful infantry. This gives the game a great deal of re-playability, since I was given the game as a present some months ago I have played little else except the excellent expansion packs of course! It helps that the long campaign requires owning 50 settlements (including Rome itself), which can be extremely challenging and time consuming considering the amount of management has to be gone into to prevent captured cities rioting.<br/><br/>The Romans have the biggest range of units (especially in artillery)and probably the most balanced, but they are not invincible by any means. It just takes some time getting to understand the units of each faction and how to use them to the best of their ability. Of course most fight better in their home terrain, e.g. Egyptian troops will have a significant disadvantage in the snows of Germania.<br/><br/>There are some minor weaknesses. Naval combat is still decided by auto-calculating by the computer only which adds a disappointingly random element to a game that is all about careful strategy. The AI in battles is puzzling sometimes, sometimes if you are being besieged the enemy army will just stand outside the walls and gets wiped out by the wall towers.<br/><br/>However small glitches cannot prevent this from being best designed strategy games of recent years, as battles are decided by superior tactics rather than just weight of numbers all the time. It is also better for long-term strategists who enjoy building up cities and ultimately their empire, slowly. If you prefer the real-time battles and fast conquest then I would recommend the Alexander Add-on pack.
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