The Romans are a rich source of gaming jollity, what with all their politics and warfare, big cities and preoccupation with violent entertainment. So it’s a bit of a shame, then, that all the games we get based on this part of history tend to be vast swathes of RTS and city-building games and little else. And so in that context we present Grand Ages: Rome.
Tasked with conquering a campaign map of Europe, GA: Rome has you building up your city, recruiting an army, squabbling with rival families and subjugating a few barbarians along the way to imperial glory. Gameplay and controls are simple enough, with a neat right-click build menu that never feels too fiddly. Meanwhile, the camera allows you a lot of freedom, though does feel a little unwieldy and has a tendency to zoom out to a god’s eye view at the slightest twitch of the mouse’s scroll button.
Warfare is kept rather simple. Capturing things generally involves being near them unopposed, and forming armies consists of having the required resources and hitting the button. The combat itself leaves you somewhat uninvolved too, with soldiers clashing and resolving fights with little direction from you.
The cities themselves, while not as large other city sims’, look the part and the sheen of the graphics engine is pleasing. Although bizarrely for a game about Rome, there’s no road building. This dampens enthusiasm for city planning, but it also means you can’t draw genitalia on the landscape. To say that the game is shallow would be harsh, but it certainly doesn’t plumb the potential depths of the period, and while it has multiplayer we can’t see it having much longevity. You can call yourself Biggus Dickus though.
Mar 18, 2009