Glory of the Roman Empire Review
|Release Date:||June 16, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Craig Dudley (Mani)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
City building simulation and management, sounds so bloody boring doesn't it? Sure does. Even so, there have been a number of massive hits in this particular genre over the years, the biggest of which was without doubt Sim-City, if you've had a PC as long as I have, you'll no doubt 'know' someone who lost many a night's sleep with that game - cough. Oddly, there's been a bit of a lull in activity in the this particular field over recent years but here we are with a few titles to talk about, City-Life stays in the modern day and does a fine job but Glory of the Roman Empire does as it's name suggests and takes us back to ancient Rome, a time when Barbarians lived relatively peacefully in their small villages and civilised people owned slaves and got their kicks from watching fights to the death, fascinating.
In GotRE, you have the honour of being an up and coming town governor, your task is to provide your citizens with their every need, a thankless tasks this can be if your town planning is not up-to scratch, bunch of god damn arsonists! That's right; your underlings will pretty much burn down your whole town if you don't keep them supplied with the goods or services they require, ungrateful I thought. At least it does provide you with a decent barometer of your Roman city planning skills, if your settlements are constantly burning down then its clear that Mayor Quimby of Springfield would probably do a better job.
As in the real Roman Empire, slaves do most of the work. They are responsible for transporting all goods to and from your warehouses, beware overworking them though as they too become rioting pyromaniacs if you push them too hard. Prefects are your life savers here; they can both put down the uprising and put out any fires, if they have time. Still, it's much more sensible to have enough slaves at all times and to this end you can purchase more in groups of ten for your town hall. The gold you require for this will either have to be mined or traded for so be careful not to expand too quickly if your short on gold. As a good rule of thumb, you'll need to have as many slaves as you have citizens.
Of course this is a city building game so the main task is constructing buildings, fortunately Glory of the Roman Empire has an excellent interface for this, a single right click will bring up a ring of building categories and clicking a category in that ring will change the building icons around the ring into the desired set of buildings, clicking the centre of that ring will take you back. It truly is a thing on beauty, neat clean and extremely easy to understand. Top marks go to the interface designers.
Each building you construct in GotRE has an area of effect and here in truth lies the key to being a good Governor and completing your tasks quickly, the inhabitants of houses will only travel so far to work or to get food for example. Effective planning and or redevelopment are essential as things grow.
Prestige of buildings also plays a major role; altars, temples and other monuments all have 2 areas of effectiveness, an outer ring inside which the public can use the building and an inner ring in which the prestige of surrounding buildings is enhanced. As prestige grows, a house may be transformed all the way from a wooden hut to a huge villa. The residents of the houses will of course change too, peasants are generally happy with flour and meat while the upper class will want wine for sure, you'll need to keep a steady stream of a number of resources available. The richer residents will also require the services of some of the larger buildings, public baths and theatres for example and this is where redevelopment comes in handy, don't be scared to demolish areas of your town to accommodate these buildings, it may be essential.
Unfortunately keeping your citizens happy is not your only worry. You'll also need to keep them healthy, providing plenty of wells and herbalists to cure any plague infested inhabitants will help. Your only other real worry are the occasional barbarian tribe who will sometimes come into your town and wave their weapons around in the air for five minutes before killing a few people and again, burning some stuff down, I think they guys at Haemimont games secretly love fire. The easiest way to solve the barbarian threat is of course to wipe them out before they can attack; building a barracks and supply it with both wood and iron weapons will train you a squad a legionaries. They can then be sent to attack enemy villages and to either enslave the population or wipe it out completely, the later is probably preferable unless you're short of gold.
Graphically, the game is fine and as is expected you can zoom all the way in and out and rotate with ease, animation is also pretty reasonable though people do seem to have hugely thick ankles. GotRE runs very well too, it takes a pretty big city before things start to slow down, far bigger than you'll ever need to build in order to complete one of the games thirty or so varied missions.
Sound effects are quite sparse but work well enough, however we're sadly lacking on the music front, tedious doesn't come close. Given the length of time you'll need to play the game in order to complete all its campaign missions and challenge missions, we could have done with a number of extra pieces of music.
There are roughly thirty quite varied and interesting campaign missions in Glory of the Roman Empire stretching over the western half of the empire, from southern Italy to London, it might have been nice to have some missions in the eastern empire for a welcome change of scenery but all in all there's plenty of single player time for the money. The challenge missions do also include a scoring system which may add some replay-ability as you try to beat your own high scores in those challenges, however this is pretty much the only reason to pick it up again once you've completed them campaign as there are no multiplayer options at all. Frankly I'm sure multiplayer wouldn't work anyway as this type of game is too slow really, potential buyers should be aware, this is a single player only game.
I've found Glory of the Roman Empire highly addictive and engaging but it's not without flaws, I'm going to have to mark it down for having some confusing mission goals at times, one particular mission involves making a settlement reach a specific city status but you're not told how to reach that status and it's quite possible to carry on building for a long time, way past what the target actually is under certain circumstances. That said, I'd definitely recommend Glory of the Roman Empire to fans of city building and management games as long as the lack of multiplayer options doesn't worry you.
- Addictive and engaging
- Plenty of missions
Not so good stuff
- Single player only
- Some confusing mission goals
- Not a lot of variety
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