The future of civilizations were won, lost or maintained on the battlefield. The sophisticated Roman Empire is challenged by barbarians in this expansion pack to Rome: Total War. Titled the Barbarian Invasion, it chronicles the fall of Rome with a great deal of historical accuracy - and of course some fabrication to make things more interesting. If you loved Total War get ready for another rendezvous.

Rome is huge and that's exactly why it's ripe for the picking. It's just too big for its own good and is constantly threatened, not only by barbarians, but by internal unrest as well. Failure to quell uprisings can cause Rome to eventually crack. You can almost see the fault line as Rome is divided into East and West sections. It has a very powerful army and some of the best commanders on the planet but the barbarians have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to slay the giant.

There are some 10 or 11 barbarian factions including the Celts, Huns and Saxons. They do have differences in weapons, skills, tactics and even locations. All of them are highly flexible and basically nomadic. They don't have as much to defend as they have to attack. In this case it's Rome that has the most to lose. Despite the differences among the barbarians they are evenly balanced, almost to the point of being too similar. I haven't found one faction that is superior to the others but the different tactics they can employ keeps things fresh for a time and extends the replay value.

Despite some new political boundaries the maps are basically the same as they were in the original game. They still retain the great level of detail with all of the different environments that can be implemented into the battle strategies such as mountains, valleys, forests and rivers. Units can now swim across rivers but they are drained of energy when they reach the other side. Night battles look great with torches and flaming structures but it's so easy to see in the dark that it's almost like attacking in broad daylight. Even if you don't like night battles they will be forced on you by the other factions.

Not much has changed with the graphics and it wasn't really expected. The game came out less than a year ago and it was sure a hell of a looker back then so why mess with it? The music continues in the same great vein with a very powerful and emotional soundtrack.

Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion is a great expansion pack that adds more variety, tactical depth and pure entertainment to an already excellent package.

System: PC
Dev: Creative Assembly
Pub: Sega
Release: Sept. 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole