The ubiquitous “they” warn sternly that, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” While it obviously took Haemimont more than several days to develop Imperium Romanum, a sequel to 2006’s Glory of the Roman Empire, the results suggest the development cycle should’ve taken longer still. This city-builder is, unfortunately, a classic example of paint-by-numbers, quick-turnaround game design.
Three gameplay modes and 32 scenarios balance out the lack of an ongoing single-player campaign, yet none of them inspire much excitement. History mode consists of a series of relatively easy historical missions. You can also muddle around in a much more open-ended sandbox scenario mode focused on developing famous cities in the region. And if those options aren’t intriguing enough, you can jump straight into the quagmire of running the great city itself in the aptly titled Rome mode. Despite any perceived variety that these three choices seem to offer, in-game action frustratingly follows the same repetitive build order and challenges each time - crank out your resource buildings, slap up some “make the people happy” religious monuments, then fend off generic Barbarian hordes. Nothing really interesting or unexpected ever crops up to enliven the proceedings.
Even more underwhelming than the actual city-building is the game’s overly simplified combat that pits your Hastati (infantry), Equites (cavalry), and Archers against Barbarian foes via an “attack anything that moves” button. Both sides then mash together until one side entirely dies or arbitrarily retreats. A no-frills graphics engine and some suitably atmospheric music round out a package that does little to generate any new enthusiasm for the genre or its potentially engaging setting.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 50% (Merely okay)
May 9, 2008