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Glory of the Roman Empire Preview

publisher: CDV Software Entertainment
developer: Haemimont
genre: Strategy

PIV 2400, 512MB RAM, 700MB HDD, 128MB video card
ESRB rating: E

release date: Jul 03, 06
» All About Glory of the Roman Empire on ActionTrip

I'll tell you one thing, there's nothing better than taking a nice breather from killing monsters, bashing people on the head with a sledge hammer, running away from zombies etc. All these activities are more or less the usual crap you'd normally find in video games these days (aside from pretty foliage and boobs). It's been a while since we got a chance to play something a bit more down-to-earth, if you know what I mean. The German publisher, CDV, brings something a little different to our attention.

Glory of the Roman Empire lets you control your very own Roman province. Thanks to the development team, Haemimont Games, players are offered a chance to enjoy a clear cut and well-thought out strategy simulation. So, to put it briefly, you could say that we're looking at a mish-mash of classics like Sim City and Caesar. The last time I played Caesar III, I sort of lost interest in everything else. And by "everything" I mean just that. The game was so engaging and addictive I rarely found the time to eat and sleep. Ah, those were the days... No job, no responsibilities, you live off mom and dad's paycheck and just sit back and enjoy the hell out of your favorite PC game. (Eek? - Ed)

Back to the subject at hand, Glory of the Roman Empire is very similar to what we've experienced in games like Caesar III. One of the main differences, however, is Haemimont's obvious effort to tone down micromanagement and offer a slightly more intuitive and simpler approach to town construction.

But, more on that later.

The Roman Empire is thriving and the Senate has taken steps towards improving each city, employing its greatest Governors. Your duties will be to make each settlement, within your jurisdiction, worthy of the Emperor's attention. The ultimate goal is to establish a wealthy and flourishing urban environment, with a stable economy, a large number of citizens and a strong labor force. Of course, you're also obliged to keep an eye out on city healthcare, sanitation and town security, none of which can be established without an adequate number of workers and citizens. Still, with a constant supply of fresh water and enough herbalist shops, your citizens should stay healthy and clean.

Every Roman settlement is located on a unique type of soil, which requires you to take appropriate measures when planning out your economy. In this preview build, we got the opportunity to influence the growth of three Roman provinces: Pompey, Florence and Syracuse. Each location has a variety of advantages, but it also comes with numerous difficulties that increase the challenge of city rule. For instance, when I secured steady food production in Florence it got the attention of the Emperor, and I was immediately reassigned to assist another province; Pompey, in this case. Unlike Florence, land in Pompey is more difficult to cultivate, making it impossible for your people to grow crops. That means you'll have to set up trade routes with neighboring towns and exchange goods in order to get your mitts on vital resources such as flour. Acting as the governor, you must also improve the settlement in many other ways, making sure that people are generally happy with conditions they live in.

The coolest aspect of the gameplay is the freedom to place various structures any way you wish at any given time. This opens the door to creating a completely unique city, as you place buildings, houses, trade posts, taverns, prefectures and so on. City decoration, such as trees, parks and monuments, can also be placed anywhere on the map. Doing all of this won't be much of a problem, given the game's exceedingly simple interface.

Haemimont made an interesting twist on typical resource management as well. Each structure, for example, doesn't require a specific amount of money or resources in order to be built. Instead, you are free to place as many objects and buildings on the map as you like, after which you may set the priority of each structure in accordance with the city's needs. Builders and slaves will start delivering the required amount of materials needed for each construction site. In due time, every one of these structures will be completed. It's admirable that players aren't weighed down by certain aspects like having to cope with resources before building even the simplest of structures.

Eventually, after having established a prosperous Roman province, the Emperor will most likely be willing to compensate you for your efforts. Usually, when you prove yourself as a governor, the Emperor sends along additional resources and more manpower (or, in this case, slave-power). Every now and then, you'll receive the Emperor's permission to erect impressive statues within the city, thus improving the ambiance and making the citizens even happier.

We only regret for not getting a chance to check out the military portion of the game. The full version of Glory of the Roman Empire will involve the creation and maintenance of developed Roman cities, in addition to handling various types of battle situations, like barbarian invasions and so on. Playing this build simply acquainted us with the game's basics, offering a small portion of things to come. The developers also promised over 30 different missions in the main campaign.

To sum up, we're pretty happy with what we've seen so far. Glory of the Roman Empire has reasonable potential to lure fans of the genre. It may be a bit too early to say for sure, but at times the game seems a bit oversimplified. It's almost as if it was targeted for a younger audience. For that reason, the game could easily be overshadowed by more complex strategy games, such as Sierra's upcoming title Caesar IV. And yet, from what we've experienced, there's no denying that Glory of the Roman Empire has its own charm, in addition to being technically sound. Let's hope things stay that way in the final product.



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