by William Thompson
previewed on PC
All hail Caesar!
The Caesar series of city-building games has been around for some time now, and they are still the leaders in ancient-city building games. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been much competition in the genre so it is pretty easy to be on top. But the teams of developers over at Tilted Mill (the team behind Immortal Cities, Children of the Nile) have not rested on their laurels, and have come up with a new improved game in the series, with an original title, Caesar IV.
For those new to the series, the Caesar games are all about city building, and in particular historical cities; so if you want to build a 50-storey skyscraper, you’re looking in the wrong place. The Caesar series of games, as you might expect from the title, are mainly concerned with Roman-type buildings. There is also limited combat in the game, but if you’re after a full-on battle to the death, such as you get in Rome:Total War, then, again, this may not be the game for you. It is all about the city building, the planning, the constructing and solving the problems of the citizens in your town, similar to what SimCity brought us all those years ago.
For fans of the series, this latest incarnation of the Roman city building game has been long time in coming. Caesar III was released in 1998, so gamers have had plenty of time to think about what could be included in the forthcoming version. As it will have been 8 years since the latest release, the biggest improvements will naturally be in the graphics department. As with many of the new sequels in the genre being released, Caesar IV has been given an upgrade to a 3D engine.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Being a city-builder, one of the most important features would be the type and number of buildings and and their features that are available to the designer. Caesar IV gives you up to 100 unique buildings to choose from, including housing, entertainment facilities such as the Colosseum, health-care facilities and protection facilities such as fire-stations and military barracks. Each building is well rendered and the growing city becomes alive in front of your eyes as smoke starts to billow from the newly-fangled chimneys. The city also needs to be decorated with trees, flowers and statues, which help to keep the townsfolk in a bright mood.
Don’t let Nero anywhere near the town with his fiddle
Of course, keeping the townspeople happy is another important aspect in Caesar IV. You must continually provide the citizens with whatever they need, and their main areas of concern, apart from their happiness, is the health of the population and the safety of their families from problems such as riots, fires, plagues and the ever-present threat of barbarians. The management of these issues is made easier in a number of ways. First, you can interact with a number of unique characters within the game. They can tell you what they think of you and your city and possibly give some input on what needs to be done. Second, you have various advisors who are able to give you statistics that help you in identifying the possible problem areas. Third, there are special colour-coded map displays, which provide citywide information.