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Cleopatra Review

publisher: Sierra Studios
developer: BreakAway Games
genre: Simulation

P133, 32MB RAM, 360MB HDD, 1MB video card
ESRB rating: E

release date: Dec 02, 02
» All About Cleopatra on ActionTrip

September 05, 2000
Branislav "Bane" Babovic

Some three years ago, Caesar III proved that ancient-days God-Sim's could be very interesting, even in the age of super-accelerated 3D FPS games. Thanks to that Impression Games pearl, millions of sim fans were able to go back in time to ancient Rome and re-live its glory, if only for a few days. The Impression Games decided to widen their opus to other great civilizations. Such is the charm and fun of the simulation, placed in the time of ancient Egypt. The sim was called Pharaoh, and it was met with fairly positive critique when it was released in October last year. The official add-on to Pharaoh, Cleopatra, is none-the-worse than the original when it comes to quality of design, and maybe even better taking in consideration the gameplay value of the additional missions.

Due to its competitive release date, Pharaoh was dwarfed by some of the bigger Christmas hits. Unfortunately, some of the game's novelties were overshadowed because of it. The biggest novelty Pharaoh introduced, in regard to Caesar III, was the excellent historical background. Let me remind those that played it, but forgot what's it like to be Pharaoh, ruling the hot sands by the Nile and all, of the plot --- It is taking place through three actual periods of the Egyptian history: Old, Middle and New Kingdom. Those periods were divided into sub-periods, so history connoisseurs had a full treat. In compliance with history, the player starts off as a leader of a nomad tribe, and gradually climbs up the social ladder, to end up as the Supreme Ruler of Egypt-the Pharaoh. After choosing a set of parameters and modes from the main menu, the player controls an Egyptian settlement. Similar to any other God-Sim, the key to progress is in the finances. The player starts off with comforting basic needs of the population (food, water, cookies...), and goes on to brew beer and manufacture extravagant goods, such as jewelry, to meet the needs of upper classes of the society. In order for the citizens to supply themselves with everything necessary, you have to have a healthy industry that will export more than you import. If there is a deficit, you will have to cover it with taxes. Jewelry makes most lucrative export (because its hard to obtain) or papyrus (which is primary export goods), as well as stone blocks. Of course, initially you are forced to import since some of the goods are impossible to obtain in your city.

Cleopatra is an add-on to the basic Pharaoh game. That means that you have to have the Pharaoh already installed on your hard-drive, while the music and other data are downloaded from the Cleopatra CD. Apart from the known options of the old campaigns in Pharaoh, Cleopatra offers four brand-spankin' new campaigns for us to toy with.

The add-on follows the timelines of the original, continuing with the progress through the history of Egypt. You can continue playing new campaigns with a dynasty built in Pharaoh, or create one from scratch, and attempt a new, and much more challenging missions in the Cleopatra Xpansion. Except Malaria disease, now you have the Plague that decimates your population. There is also some major bad weather that will prove as an obstacle in the game. The locusts, which will eat your crops, and the frogs, are particularly bad. (Yeah, they're a real pain in the butt - Ed.) The developers exhibit a fair sense of humor, so, for example, when the frogs swarm your city, each house affected by them will have a little frog on it. (What's funny about that? Gee... my editors really have a weird sense of humor - Ed.) The people will be dissatisfied and leave town when the frogs begin to molest them?! (Weird, but still not funny. - Ed.) Then you have migrating asps... They and the lions present another big obstacle, during the building phase of the game. An even worse predicament is when the River Nile (Yeah it's a river, what did you think it was; a tropical desease? - Ed.) transforms into a River of Blood, and scares the socks off the population (well, it would if they wore socks). They will migrate to other settlements if the player doesn't apply some damage control and mitigate the hardships that keep hitting the town.

So, there are four new campaigns...

While the title of this game is Cleopatra, only one of the four missions actually deals with her years as leader of Egypt. In Valleys of the Kings campaign, the main objective is to build a massive graveyard with enormous tombs and gravestones. You will carve those into the rock of the nearby hills, which will in time dwarf your settlement. The construction site will have to be guarded from potential tomb raiders that wish to rob the valuables that the Pharaoh will take with him into the afterworld.

The second campaign places the player into the sandals of the great pharaoh Ramses. His mission is to build up Egypt to the maximum, and collect as much wealth as possible. Ancient Conquerors features military campaigns against good, old, wild tribes that will attempt everything in their power to destroy Egyptian civilization.

The last campaign is Cleopatra. The objective is to build the capitol, Alexandria, and objects within the city, like the library or the lighthouse. The main adversaries in this campaign will be none other than Romans! (Ooh, I feel a little love affair in the air; Liz Taylor anybody? - Ed.) During the four additional campaigns, the players will get to meet many new nations --- Romans, Hittites, Persians and even Macedonians. New enemies require a new approach in combat, demanding more of the player than in Pharaoh. The game "sticks" to the historical facts and time frames, so anybody who knows anything about history knows how Cleopatra's character ends. (How damn you! Tell! - Ed.)

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8.0   Very Good

New campaigns are really tough and require lot of skills and expirence in city management;

No originality and too few improved graphic touches.


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