When I first learnt that Creative Assembly had published the prospective last chapter of its Total War endeavour, I looked into it right away and bought it, believing that it would live up to its seamless antecedents - 'Rome: Total War' and 'Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion'. As my initial reaction to it, I was a little taken aback by the absence of what I had been expecting from the game, but, in terms of game play and presentation, I was quite satisfied.
'Rome: Total War - Alexander' comprises almost all of the typical elements of the Total War series, adding a flair of originality to it. Entirely centered on the eve of Alexander's invasion of Persia, this third installment deserves kudos for standing as one of the few digital renditions of the Macedonian strategist's legendary accomplishments; however, originality alone does not suffice and I believe that more careful preparations would have set this game on par with its two predecessors. Being limited to the use of the Macedonians, players will have to engage into a beat-the-clock conquest against the Persians and hold at least 30 settlements within Alexander's lifetime. The fact that the campaign mode offers the use of one faction only may well put a damper on fellow gamers who have grown accustomed to controlling different factions. After all, haven't we all loved our chance to rewrite history playing as either the Barbarians or the Western Empire Romans in 'Rome: Total War - Barbarian Invasion'?
In my opinion, therefore, controlling the Persians would not only have allowed us to devise more strategies and try out different units, but it would also have given us our chance to rewrite history!
In terms of the military and building units, the game has pretty much remained faithful to the franchise. However, having little time at disposal - bear with me that if Alexander dies before clearing all the victory requirements, whether in battle or for natural causes, his faction will automatically lose out - players may just find out that moving forward to meet all the victory criteria is more vital than squandering money or embellishing cities. As far as the military units available, 'Alexander' can really stand out in its variety of mercenary units for hire. In particular, I have enjoyed the new heavy cavalry and spearmen units, both of them representing the backbone of the Macedonian force; alas, the very nature of the victory conditions will make it hard for players to use each unit as Alexander's contingent must constantly move forward and, thus, will compel gamers to rely mostly upon local mercenaries.
Notwithstanding the weak points I have just mentioned, I have enjoyed this second ancient world expansion a great deal. Despite the scant number of factions in the game, which range from the Illyrians and Thracians on the Southern Balkan Peninsula to the Scythians on the shores of the Black Sea and finally the easternmost Persians and Indians, the very nature of the victory requirements makes this game challenging even for experienced real-time strategy gamers and surely makes it stand out for its originality; for instance, the sheer absence of diplomacy is justified by the historical setting of this game, which would make it impossible to consider such option.
In conclusion, I will recommend this game to all fellow Total War aficionados and to real time gamers who are eager for a challenge.