We’ve yet to see the AI do anything really lunatic: no improbable flip-flopping, no grotesque military incompetence. You actually feel as if you’re surrounded by sentient states. CPU-controlled factions even seem to negotiate sagely, a huge achievement given the many diplomatic instruments available.
Another aspect of EU: Rome that keeps unflattering Total War comparisons at bay is the events engine. Every few minutes the game throws a quirky immersion-enhancing incident at you and demands a decision. A lot of the incidents relate to internal politics. Your military and government are staffed by a gaggle of personalised personages who are always falling out, jockeying for position, and dying. Very occasionally you’ll get an event with more profound implications. In our last session we were looking for an excuse to do the dirty on our old chums the Spartans when a border dispute event cropped up. Bingo, we had our Casus Belli.
The inevitable patch probably won’t add any tactical fiber to the combat system (a real pity), but hopefully it will sort out a few interface aggravations. While the 3D soldiers look splendid striding around the landscape, it's absurd that the graphics don’t tell you anything about army size, morale state, or leader. Generals and town governors are dying of old age all the time and you really should be able to spot empty positions just by glancing over your lands. Of course, the patch that will really transform this game won’t be made by Paradox. The experts behind RTW mod Europa Barbarorum have already announced they will be working their magic on this too. If Europa Universalis: Rome isn’t already the most convincing strategic-level recreation of Roman empire building around, there’s a very good chance it will be six months from now.
Apr 25, 2008