CivCity: Rome updated impressions

Where the Civilization game is abstracted, CivCity is detailed, and vice versa. External events and an Empire Points system suggest "a big game of Civ going on all around you" (in the words of Firaxis executive producer Barry Caudill), making extraneous demands that might involve simplified trade or "very light, optional" combat, and that might run counter to the economic and social needs of your town.

"The tie-in has helped us to move the city building genre on," says Bradbury. "I played Caesar III, which I solely coded and designed, and I had no idea why people were coming to or leaving my city. Things like the key happiness variable from Civilization - putting that smiley face up there helps clarify that."

The design is accessible and direct, with strong feedback, but work still needs to be done on CivCity's crude and inflexible interface, and its balancing. At the moment it's all too easy to hit economic brick walls early on, although later on these lulls will present opportunities for research and reorganization.

If the kinks in this Roman road can be straightened, though, it will present a streamlined, yet thorough, journey into the past.