I get the feeling that Impressions are a lot like our friends from Japan used to, they waited for a product to come out, looked at it and then produced a better version. Now of course, the Japanese are leaders in innovation. Perhaps. Impressions will move the same way.
Caesar has obvious roots in SIM CITY, that great Maxis game of city creation, and all the problems and pollution that goes with it. If it had a fault at all it was that at times it was intricate and graphically unappealing. Caesar is immensely easy to get into, and pretty to look at too. You play the part of Governor of an as yet undeveloped province, somewhere in the Roman Empire. Through patient skill and hard nosed wheeler dealing you have managed to secure this empty backwater with a mission to develop it into a secure and prosperous home for its citizens. This will lead to more postings throughout the Empire lifting you in rank until ultimately you could become... Emperor!
At the start of the game, you need to find a suitable site for your capital city, preferably nestling it next to a river or large lake, as water distribution is a key factor in a successful community. The screen is a four way scrolling landscape of barren earth and bush and is uniquely generated each time you play a new game. The playing area is large, so good planning early on is vital.
All the action is controlled entirely by icons, which drive all the key elements of the game, and although there are quite a few at times, they are easily recognizable which is always one of the things I nag designers to put in. Once you have your site, you can begin to lay the foundations of your city with houses, a forum, market place, one or two factories and businesses and, of course, laying down a few roads.
The game runs on two levels, a City level where you concentrate on the specific needs of your city infrastructure, and then a Provincial level which opens out your screen to embrace your whole provinces' needs. This level is needed for linking up the various towns you create with roads and defending the province from attack by Barbarians and rioters. Most of your time will be spent on the City level, constructing for the needs of your people who after all will be funding you through the taxes that you will be levying on them.
Providing that you have allocated ample water supplies and built more than a few businesses and factories, your population will quickly grow and you will have a thriving city on your hands. Decisions will have to be made over the number of slaves you allot to certain essential services like road maintenance, or fire prevention or army enlistment.
You are constantly updated through your advisors to the state of the treasury, troops and general day to day info, but the last say is yours alone. You also control troops outside and inside your cities through various Cohorts which you form, and, providing you have recruited and trained enough men, these legions will patrol your land and fight warring factions where needed. A nice touch here is that Impressions previous release. COHORT 2 is compatible with CAESAR and can be loaded in if you want to see your Cohorts fighting in a detailed battle.
A good one this, loads of options, and all very friendly to use. A veritable must for your collection, and one that consigns SIM CITY to holding up the bookshelf.
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