Total War fan and cancer victim lives on in Rome 2

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Total War: Rome 2 is out now; here’s our Total War: Rome 2 review.

A Creative Assembly fan became the first studio outsider to play Total War: Rome 2 last summer, shortly before his death from liver cancer. While 24-year-old James didn’t live to see the game’s release, his digital likeness will play a part in the Siege of Carthage.

James visited the Creative Assembly’s Horsham headquarters to play pre-alpha code, suggest features for the game, and chat to key members of Rome 2’s dev team. What’s more, his likeness became the basis for a Roman legionnaire in the game’s Battle of Carthage.

The day was organised as part of the Willow Foundation’s Special Day initiative, and saw the developers’ staff come out of the woodwork to accommodate James and his brother.

“What really struck me was how my colleagues reacted to James coming in,” CA community manager Craig Laycock told Eurogamer. “I was inundated with emails offering help with James’ day. The tour organised itself, as the guys around me scrambled to show James what’s going into making Rome 2.

“James was remarkable on the day. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. He asked passionate questions and offered clear and concise suggestions on features for the game.”

The team were “moved and humbled” to have James visit, and the news of his recent death was “devastating” for Laylock.

“Even though I had only spent a few hours in his company, it was absolutely devastating, because he was able to show us all here in the studio how passionate he was for our games,” he wrote.

“And although he won’t get the chance to see Rome 2 released, he will live on in some small way in our game – and every time I see him I’ll be reminded of what a great guy he was.

“In many ways, James represented what’s best about working in video games,” he added. “Crafting games that people enjoy and that stay with them. It’s why we all do what we do, and why we’re so passionate about it. He really brought that home to us.”

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