by Howie Howard
previewed on PC
City building in ancient Rome
Heart of Empire: Rome is a city and empire building game currently under developed by the UK-based Deep Red and produced by Deep Silver. The game is slated for release on the 16th of May this year. The game provides a bit of empire building to go along with a lot of city building and your main task will be taking Rome from being a small village to the thriving and glorious city, the centre of the ancient world, that it was famous for.
On the way to become the next Caesar
The game is very similar in appearance to the Caesar III series of games in that it starts you out as a minor character in the countryside somewhere in the ancient Roman empire. Your task is to build a city that will eventually become the capitol of this famous empire, often referred to as the city of eternal light, Rome. How you go about completing this task is completely up to you. You can choose to play the game in a sandbox mode or you can play through each of the 14 scenarios and progress from one to the next in a complete career. As you progress from one mission to another, they become gradually harder to accomplish. As you move along the path to becoming the ultimate leader, the citizens of Rome will demand more and more from you. As in real life, the people of Rome grow sedate and harder to please. So be warned that these folks will become very demanding. One slip-up and your career as Emperor may come crashing down around you. You may, in fact, find yourself being made to provide the lions with a quick lunch as the main attraction in the gladiators' arena!
This game plays the same as most of the other city building games of this genre. In essence, you will need to perfect your techniques in order to satisfy the various castes of Roman citizens. You will need to run and control every aspect of the Romans lives. This will include providing everything from food and entertainment to even fire protection. In fact, expect to be fighting many fires in this game because the developers have read their history books about ancient Rome and everyone knows that Rome was one big fire just waiting to happen. Thus, you will need to build aqueducts in order to supply water to the legions of citizens that will be needed to man the bucket brigades. And if that approach turns out to be impractical, then just demolish parts of the city and make a fire break. How you choose to face the constantly emerging disasters of everyday Roman life is up to you. However, even when you are battling against a major disaster, don't forget to provide your citizens with entertainment and the finer things in life.
Can you really be a politician?
You will be able to construct over 100 unique buildings and structures in all their ancient Roman ornamental splendour. You'll also be able to organize gladiator fights or chariot races in the Colosseum. If you neglect these essential forms of entertainment, the people will become very angry. It has always been said that a happy Roman can quickly turn into an angry Roman if he or she doesn't get his weekly fix of watching a hapless criminal get devoured by the mean old nasty lion!
Your ultimate mission is to acquire as much power as you can in order to one day become the next Caesar. This power translates into political influence over the Senate and Emperor. By gaining their favour, you will eventually be able to take the final step to grasp the ultimate power for yourself. Remember that the Romans were the first civilization to have a representative form of government. I must say that this aspect of the game is realised quite well. The most successful leader will always know how to deal with an uncooperative senator. It's called backroom wrangling and you will need to become an expert in this. If you turn out not to be a skilled politico, you just might find a shiny gold dagger sticking out of your back, courtesy of your very own Brutus.
Lifelike graphics and sounds
The sights and sounds of ancient Rome are rendered in exquisite 3D detail. As the ultimate power in this world you will be able to zoom in and out, and follow every citizen around as they accomplish the everyday tasks of their lives in a bustling city. In fact, the game presents an amazing 3D world that seems to be inhabited by real people. The people of Rome aren't just mindless automatons that wander around aimlessly; they will act with the purpose and desire that every good Roman citizen is famous for.
Adjust your camera so that you will be able to see what is happening on the streets of Rome. Watch and listen to the trader on the street corner as he tries to hawk his goods to the passer-by. Watch and listen to the throngs of happy citizens as they cheer their favorite gladiator onto victory in the arena. Do this, and you will soon start to think of this city of Rome as real and you'll want to provide the citizens with the best that a true Caesar can provide. All hail Caesar!