As I child, probably from as young as 4-5 I was always interested in history – running around the back garden with a couple of sticks pretending they were swords and marvelling at the tales of the Romans, Vikings and Normans who invaded Britain. I also have family who served in the Second World War and I was always curious about their experiences. In principal I’m not a great lover of war or conflict I’ve always found the idea of a battlefield exciting.
I would always listen intently to history lessons but the problem was these lessons always seemed a bit rushed and never really went into great detail. You never got an idea of the bigger picture, the international stage, the politics or the strategy…and then I discovered the Total War series.
Rome II is the latest game in the series allowing you to conquer the ancient world. You can play as many civilizations from the barbarians of Germany to the successor kingdoms of the Macedonian empire or the mighty Carthaginians. The most obvious and probably popular choice however… is Rome!
I fired up my first play on the Grand Campaign and was instantly sucked in. The campaign map of Europe not only gave me a much needed lesson in geography but also an insight into the medieval world in a way I’d never experienced. For example before I played the game I never knew about the Moorish invasion of Spain and the long struggle between the two cultures which still leaves its mark to this day. I was always totally ignorant of German history until I played this series, I never knew that it wasn’t a unified country until after the Franco-Prussian war. The first time I saw the name ‘Holy Roman Empire’ my assumption naturally was that this was some offshoot of the Roman Empire we all know and love. Speaking of the Roman Empire I was also unaware of its REAL successor the Byzantine Empire. I always had a great deal of fun watching it crumble, unless I was ruling it of course.
The great thing about this education was that it was subtle. At the time I was so fixed on strategy I didn’t realise how much information I was absorbing. I would scan the map and eye up my next conquest, Examine who would be a trustworthy ally (surely not the French!?) Pick out the next territory to fill my coffers for the next offensive. Sat at my computer chair, I was High King Hayden, terror of the north!
Ever hungry for further conquests I’ve purchased every game in the series. I can’t begin to guess how many hours I’ve spent playing these games but I know they were hours well spent. I’ve been Shogun of Japan, uniting the nation under an iron fist. My Iceni warriors have rampaged across Gaul to bring honour and glory to my tribe! My crusaders have marched under the cross and blessings of the pope to drive the Saracens from the Holy Land and retake the sacred city of Jerusalem! I have painted the world red, ensuring that the sun would never set on my British Empire!
Away from the keyboard, my general interest in history had become a full blown love. I was eager to learn more about the nations I was fighting as or against, I wanted to know just how close to reality the game campaigns were. I studied history throughout my education all the way to university where I took a degree in Military History. I found myself amongst students who were also influenced by videogames and the Total War series. I’m fairly sure most of our class hadn’t finished an essay because it was due in right around the release date of Shogun 2 Total War.
If you have any interest in history, even if it’s just passing I would HIGHLY recommend this series. From managing an empire to watching thousands of your soldiers fight it out on the battlefield there’s plenty to keep the game fresh.
Total War shaped a large part of my education and has had a much greater effect on my life. I can’t begin to thank Creative Assembly enough for their continually awesome work on the series.