by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
More fun with the past
Sick and tired of managing a modern day city? To be honest, I am. I've been playing city builders since the original Sim City 2000 (which, contrary to its name, is from 1989) and have played every iteration since. But somehow spin-offs with ancient themes such as Pharaoh and Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, tend to captivate me for many more hours than the contemporary themed games.
The guys at Haemimont Games apparently feel the same way. Their first-off city builder takes you to the Roman Empire where you are the governor of towns and cities that need a helping hand in achieving certain goals. If you do your job well, citizens all over the empire will clamor for your services. If not... well... You shouldn't be governor then should you?
Lush and lively
When I first laid eyes on the screenshots of Glory of the Roman Empire, I dismissed them as being mockups. Not that the graphics were too fantastic to be believable but the artwork was... well... just that: Art. The images had an almost painting-like quality with brush strokes as if you were watching a Monet or van Gogh constantly in motion. Surprisingly, the truth is not that far off. The graphics are, simply, charming.
The maps are lushly colored and filled with hills, mountains, streams and ponds. Flocks of birds fly around and sometimes descend to sit around in a pasture for a while and do whatever it is that birds do (catch worms?). Buildings are nicely detailed and portray the state of the neighborhood. Each stage in the development of the area can be seen through the 'quality' of the buildings. If the people living in the area have all their wants and needs fulfilled, their houses look like regular palaces.
Slaves can be seen running around with all sorts of goods and it's actually sort of fun following around citizens going about their business. Even fully zoomed out, everything looks crisp, giving you a good overview of your city. Between the animations and the ever evolving buildings, your city will feel like a living, breathing thing.
Not so fast...
Of course, being a Roman Citizen, work is not that hard on you. You have time to pray, complain about the lack of wine and the fact that there are no temples in your vicinity. You'll even have time, as a hobby project, to organize a riot or two about other things you're not happy with. This will distract the local Prefecture (read: Fire Chiefs crossed with Social Workers) from what they really should be doing: putting out fires, some of which you have caused yourself.
In other words, governing a city isn't easy. Your citizens will show you no mercy and do not care about excuses. They will continue to complain about mundane things like the shortage of cloth while half the city is burning down, and expect you to do something about it. If you're not reactive, they'll start causing problems. If you have your act together, they'll do their thing without complaints, producing goods for the settlement and helping it prosper. If you muck up, brace yourself because your previously well-oiled-machine will take a dive and you'll be scrambling to hold things together.
Fortunately there are ways to figure out what your citizens want. Temples, Taverns and Altars will show you how many people are happy or angry and even how many people are so upset that they are about to riot. When they get close to rioting, it is usually too late to do anything about it and you will have to rely on your Prefects to contain the situation. They usually can but occasionally things get so out of hand that there's just no stopping the rioters. In the most extreme cases, I've torn down entire neighborhoods to stop the riots from burning down the entire city.
No Pros and Cons at this time