by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
While the name may not be familiar to you, Grand Ages: Rome is the third game in a series of games with a somewhat checkered history. It is almost three years ago that Haemimont released Glory of the Roman Empire, a city builder that looked absolutely gorgeous but could have benefited from more depth in gameplay. Many were disappointed in the sequel that was released in the spring of 2008. Imperium Romanum did little to improve upon its predecessor and frustrated with its army management and combat system. Perhaps this is why Haemimont is again changing the name of the series so that it can shed the mistakes of the past and put the franchise on a firm path to… well… glory.
Rewards and talents
The heart of Grand Ages: Rome lies in its campaign. A map of Europe indicates in which region a mission is available by showing the picture of a wealthy or powerful Roman. Once selected, your ‘client’ will explain to you what the mission entails. You can either accept it or see if there is another that is more to your liking. Each mission has both primary and secondary objectives. Completing these will bring both wealth and rewards that can aid you in future undertakings. A mission may for instance unlock an estate. Once owned, estates provide building materials, goods and even slaves during your missions, giving your economy an instant boost the moment you enter a new map.
After finishing a mission, you will also be able to select one ‘talent’ and add it to your character. Talents can be distributed in one of three areas of expertise: city, military and family. A useful early family talent is ‘Better production’. With this skill, all mines and logging sheds are upgraded the moment that they are placed on the map. A good military talent is ‘Subjugation’ which doubles the tribute of subjugated villages.
Buildings and resources
Grand Ages: Rome is a ‘city builder light’. Production paths, research and combat have all been kept simple. By the time that you are familiar with the interface, the mechanics and the different buildings that you have available, it is easy enough to set up a bustling city of considerable size. During the campaign, however, you are not likely to see cities that sprawl across the map. A ‘Free Build’ mode is available to those who love spending hours upon hours on just a single city. Fortunately you can use the character that you created for the campaign mode in Free Build mode, and benefit from all its extra’s.
The basic mechanics of the game should be familiar to anyone who has ever played a city builder. I won’t go into much detail here as the game does not stray far from the ‘beaten city builder path’. Series veterans however, will be pleased to learn that their frustrating relationship with city fires is finally over. There are still fires, but they are 100% related to the crime rates. The game offers solid ways to prevent crime and Prefectures will take care of the occasional lapse in crime vigilance. Prefectures now also provide an interesting bonus: they lower the materials needed for building upkeep.
No Pros and Cons at this time