And there's a lot to watch. There's a nice diversity of commercial, agricultural, civic and residential structures on the landscape, and the game has an incredible level of detail. Large cities feel alive with "hustle and bustle." Zoom in on any building, such as a circus or arena, and you'll see chariot races and gladiator matches going on, with crowds jeering the action. Vendors walk the streets, children play in the gardens and residents exercise in their homes.
But despite a litany of fancy-pants graphical buzzwords - HDR/bloom lighting, bump-mapping, enhanced water, real-time shadows - the game manages to look quite dated, largely because the highest supported resolution is a measly 1280x1024. Egad! Forget about 1600x1200, let alone widescreen. There's a very annoying graphic glitch that makes it next to impossible to select anything in the game when you play in any resolution higher than 1024x768, which is quite a problem for a city-building game where fast and accurate "clicking" is paramount.
The campaign mode is compelling, allowing you to choose between peaceful and military-focused paths, though the mission goals are a bit repetitive, and thus tedious. The military action is incredibly basic, too, and comes off a bit silly really - though it often does provide a welcome change of pace. For us, the sandbox mode, in which you just focus on building the most glorious city possible, was the most enjoyable mode. An included and fairly easy to use map editor lets you design your own terrain upon which to build your cities.