Grand Ages: Rome
Grand Ages Rome is actually the spiritual successor to “Imperium Romanum”, a city builder that managed to only get mediocre scores. Flaws are there to learn from so the makers got a second chance. Again we’re in the era of the Roman empire with characters like Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. You play as one of the people from those mighty families.
GA Rome is a city builder but also some RPG elements have been added. By successfully ending missions in the campaign you get points that can be put in certain parts. You don’t get many, though, so it’s best to think deeply and anticipate. Concerning the missions themselves we’re happy with the amount, variation and challenges we get and as usual there are more military-focused ones as well as some focused on economy. Those that only like one of the two types shouldn’t despair as when you finish one it gets replaced by another of the same kind.
Simplicity rules when building the city: no freight transport (everything just comes in) and no long lists of things your citizens need. The few items they want also need to be in the neighbourhood. Planning – especially on long term – is still necessary but it doesn’t need to be followed up by the minute and early flaws can easily be corrected. Also not unimportant is that there’s always enough room on the map and when you zoom out completely you’ll see signs where certain basic items can be found.
If you don’t fulfil your citizens’ needs this doesn’t mean your city will go down immediately. Some things like food are more important and will have a bigger impact. When this becomes rare crime and riots will follow, something you don’t want as criminals and rioteers tend to have a habbit of putting things on fire. Other needs like religion and entertainment offer positive or negative bonuses depending on how they are filled.
To keep an eye on everything you can call out a series of percentages that show how you’re doing in popularity, employment, hygiene, average satisfaction and so on. By clicking one of these each house gets a color so that you can easily see where problems occur. Variation is also important, having a butcher and baker in the same area makes the food offering rise while having two butchers won’t as they count as one. The biggest achievement of this all is that without making things too simple, the game does play swift and streamlined. It saves you from many frustrations that occur with other city builders and makes this one more accessible without selling out its soul.
For the military missions it’s of course essential that you can trust on good and smart soldiers. The ground troops already don’t give any problems as there’s plenty of different groups with their own speciality and more than enough intelligence so that you can think of different strategies.
Something else are the boats. These must be the most stupid I have ever seen! It happened more than once that one hostile boat could take down two of mine because only one of them was attacking the enemy. On top of that you’ll also have to guide them to their destination when there’s suddenly a piece of land in the way. Luckily there are only a few missions where these boats are necessary.
To end, a short note on image and sound. Both are quite ok. You can zoom in until you can see your citizens doing different things from talking to wobbling around completely drunk, or zoom out until you’ve got a full view of the city. The music brings atmosphere but some more variation would have been welcome.
The makers have certainly done their best to make Grand Ages Rome a fine game. It isn’t innovating and fantastic but don’t let that spoil the fun. A pleasant and fun city builder without much more.