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'Rome: Total War' finally arrives on Apple's iPad with optimized touch controls

Apple device owners who are itching to play a new AAA strategy game on the go can now purchase the classic Rome: Total War, which was originally published by Sega for Windows-based PCs in 2004. This touch-enabled version is available on Apple’s App Store through Feral Interactive, the same publisher that brought Rome: Total War to the Mac in 2010.

According to Feral Interactive, the company is offering a complete release of Rome: Total War for a mere $10, meaning customers won’t have to deal with in-game purchases to unlock most of the game. However, Apple customers will need to own the iPad Air or later, or the iPad Pro. These devices will also need 4GB of free space and iOS 9.3.5 or later installed.

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Despite its PC-based roots, this version of Rome: Total War is “heavily optimized” for the Apple-based tablets. The controls were retooled to work optimally on the large touchscreen to provide the full Rome: Total War experience. Thanks to this, players have easy access to all the main components with a simple tap on the screen.

On the camera front, players can drag their finger across the screen to move the camera. They can also use the typical pinch-to-zoom touch function to get a close look at the field and troops. Players can even rotate the camera using a thumb and finger, and tap on the screen to directly select/deselect a specific unit. Want to control more than one unit? Simply draw a virtual circle around every unit to control them all at once.

To order troops to a specific location, players can direct more than one unit by drawing the virtual circle and then tap on a specific location. Another method is to draw a circle around the units the player wants to move, and then draw a specific path on the screen leading to the desired location. The general formation of all the units can be changed by selecting everyone and then dragging two fingers in the desired direction.

As for battle, players simply attack by tapping on the enemy forces, or by drawing a path to the opposing army. The overall time frame can be adjusted, too, by using a single finger and tapping on the timer control panel located in the screen’s top-right corner. This panel consists of pause, play, fast-forward, and 2x fast-forward virtual buttons.

Given that Rome: Total War was originally designed for a Windows-based PC, the interface and controls relied on a keyboard and mouse. David Stephen, Managing Director at Feral Interactive, said that converting this experience to a touch-based tablet form factor was a huge design and programming challenge.

“Our aim has been to bring this classic to a new and very different platform without compromising its enormous content, superb gameplay or strategic depth,” he said. “Working closely with Creative Assembly, I believe we have done that and am confident that Total War veterans and novices alike will enjoy the result.”

The Creative Assembly is the originating developer of Rome: Total War, which at launch was published by Activision. Sega later purchased the developer as a European subsidiary, and thus acquired the rights to Rome: Total War and subsequent games under the Total War brand. The Creative Assembly has developed other games as well including the recent Alien: Isolation.