Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile -- Official Pharaoh Expansion is more than an add-on of new scenarios and campaigns. The game includes enhancements to its parent title Pharaoh in the areas of gameplay, shortcut keys, and scope. Installation of the full commercial version of Pharaoh is required in order to utilize the expansion pack.
Cleopatra VII reigned in Egypt at the end of the Ptolemaic period and the expansion covers not only her time in power but also the reigns of Tutankhaman and Ramses II. There are four new campaigns encompassing 15 missions that span history from the late New Kingdom era to Cleopatra's rule. Also, with this upgrade, you can now play the missions included in Pharaoh in any order without completing the campaign.
Enhancements to the original game include the addition of the zoo to the missions Bubastis and Hetepsenusret (building at least one is necessary to attain the required Culture Rating), faster pyramid construction and pop-up message control. Four major plagues (River of Blood, Plague of Frogs, Hailstorm and Plague of Locusts) and new monument types have also been added.
New enemies introduced in Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile -- Official Pharaoh Expansion include Assyrians, Persians, Phoenicians and Romans (possible allies at times) as well as tomb robbers. Other added features are new beasts (e.g., scorpions, asps, roaming lions), commodities (henna, oil, lamps, paint and white marble), and industries (Paint Maker, Lamp Maker, Artisan's Guild and Henna Farm).
Seven of the missions in Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile are timed and consist of two types: survival (4) and time limit (3). In the former, at the end of a given time limit (assuming your city still exists), you must meet or exceed pre-set ratings in various areas. In the latter, victory is claimed immediately upon meeting or exceeding all required ratings. Another new feature is the allowance to carry over from mission to mission (within campaigns only) certain properties including family savings, (some) troops and monuments.
Whether constructing tombs in the Valley of the Kings or building the Lighthouse of Alexandria, battling Octavian or plagues, or simply beautifying and establishing a solid kingdom, Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile -- Official Pharaoh Expansion offers you the chance to relive and recreate history in the land of the Pharaohs.
Caesar III proved that ancient-days God-Sim's could be very interesting, even in the age of super-accelerated 3D FPS games. Thanks to that Impression Games pearl, millions of sim fans were able to go back in time to ancient Rome and re-live its glory, if only for a few days. The Impression Games decided to widen their opus to other great civilizations. Such is the charm and fun of the simulation, placed in the time of ancient Egypt. The sim was called Pharaoh, and it was met with fairly positive critique when it was released in October last year. The official add-on to Pharaoh, Cleopatra, is none-the-worse than the original when it comes to quality of design, and maybe even better taking in consideration the gameplay value of the additional missions.
Due to its competitive release date, Pharaoh was dwarfed by some of the bigger Christmas hits. Unfortunately, some of the game's novelties were overshadowed because of it. The biggest novelty Pharaoh introduced, in regard to Caesar III, was the excellent historical background. Let me remind those that played it, but forgot what's it like to be Pharaoh, ruling the hot sands by the Nile and all, of the plot --- It is taking place through three actual periods of the Egyptian history: Old, Middle and New Kingdom. Those periods were divided into sub-periods, so history connoisseurs had a full treat. In compliance with history, the player starts off as a leader of a nomad tribe, and gradually climbs up the social ladder, to end up as the Supreme Ruler of Egypt-the Pharaoh. After choosing a set of parameters and modes from the main menu, the player controls an Egyptian settlement. Similar to any other God-Sim, the key to progress is in the finances. The player starts off with comforting basic needs of the population (food, water, cookies...), and goes on to brew beer and manufacture extravagant goods, such as jewelry, to meet the needs of upper classes of the society. In order for the citizens to supply themselves with everything necessary, you have to have a healthy industry that will export more than you import. If there is a deficit, you will have to cover it with taxes. Jewelry makes most lucrative export (because its hard to obtain) or papyrus (which is primary export goods), as well as stone blocks. Of course, initially you are forced to import since some of the goods are impossible to obtain in your city.
Cleopatra is an add-on to the basic Pharaoh game. That means that you have to have the Pharaoh already installed on your hard-drive, while the music and other data are downloaded from the Cleopatra CD. Apart from the known options of the old campaigns in Pharaoh, Cleopatra offers four brand-spankin' new campaigns for us to toy with.
The add-on follows the timelines of the original, continuing with the progress through the history of Egypt. You can continue playing new campaigns with a dynasty built in Pharaoh, or create one from scratch, and attempt a new, and much more challenging missions in the Cleopatra Xpansion. Except Malaria disease, now you have the Plague that decimates your population. There is also some major bad weather that will prove as an obstacle in the game. The locusts, which will eat your crops, and the frogs, are particularly bad. The developers exhibit a fair sense of humor, so, for example, when the frogs swarm your city, each house affected by them will have a little frog on it. The people will be dissatisfied and leave town when the frogs begin to molest them?! Then you have migrating asps... They and the lions present another big obstacle, during the building phase of the game. An even worse predicament is when the River Nile transforms into a River of Blood, and scares the socks off the population (well, it would if they wore socks). They will migrate to other settlements if the player doesn't apply some damage control and mitigate the hardships that keep hitting the town.
So, there are four new campaigns...
While the title of this game is Cleopatra, only one of the four missions actually deals with her years as leader of Egypt. In Valleys of the Kings campaign, the main objective is to build a massive graveyard with enormous tombs and gravestones. You will carve those into the rock of the nearby hills, which will in time dwarf your settlement. The construction site will have to be guarded from potential tomb raiders that wish to rob the valuables that the Pharaoh will take with him into the afterworld.
The second campaign places the player into the sandals of the great pharaoh Ramses. His mission is to build up Egypt to the maximum, and collect as much wealth as possible. Ancient Conquerors features military campaigns against good, old, wild tribes that will attempt everything in their power to destroy Egyptian civilization.
The last campaign is Cleopatra. The objective is to build the capitol, Alexandria, and objects within the city, like the library or the lighthouse. The main adversaries in this campaign will be none other than Romans! During the four additional campaigns, the players will get to meet many new nations --- Romans, Hittites, Persians and even Macedonians. New enemies require a new approach in combat, demanding more of the player than in Pharaoh. The game "sticks" to the historical facts and time frames, so anybody who knows anything about history knows how Cleopatra's character ends.
The gameplay is identical to the original, and numerous options for leading your dynasty from Pharaoh serve as proof. If, for some reason, you don't have your previous Pharaoh saved positions, Cleopatra has a mode by which missions can be played in the order that the player desires. This will be a preferred option for those that do not wish to repeat campaigns played in the original. Since this is a direct add-on to the game, Cleopatra features a higher level of difficulty from start to finish. To be more precise, the campaigns are very difficult! The whole thing reminds me of what we had with Commandos and its expansion, Beyond the Call of Duty. The missions are hard in the beginning, when the cities are mere settlements, and still don't resemble the work of a megalomaniac, and they stay that way, even when the player becomes experienced. Each scenario has its special challenges, and features numerous side-missions.
It is imperative that the player is careful at all times. Hailstorms will often kill your slaves/walkers as they wander to the outskirts of the map, which presents a significant loss of the labor force. That is why a movement limitation option is offered to save lives of your workers from a certain death. The pyramids are pretty, but useless. Unless the mission goals require it, I wouldn't suggest the enterprise of building them. The surplus of rocks and laborers is very rare, so the pyramids are not a must-have project. It would be wiser to invest into more useful things, like making the city prettier with different ornaments, boosting the moral of the citizens. While we are on the subject, it's better to have slums on the other part of the town, distancing them from the elite city residences. If you mix them, it will inevitably lead to general dissatisfaction. The food is always needed, so the player has to provide it in enormous quantities. If Oziris isn't angry, the surplus can always be sold, or stockpiled, in case Nile floods the crops. Workers should be paid wages somewhat bigger than the Kingdom offers, but you shouldn't be lenient on the taxes.
New Cleopatra buildings include: Zoo, Lamp Maker, Henna Farms, Paint Maker, and Tomb Painters. In general, new monuments are not so time consuming as in original Pharaoh missions (in dimension they resemble buildings of the New Kingdom). But the basics of the game are the same: build a city as great as possible, with an economic infrastructure that will manufacture goods and provide finances for building monuments.
And What About the Design?
There are a few improvements over the Pharaoh engine-speedier pyramid constructing (if gods are in a good mood). Some missions have a timer, while others require the players to simply survive a certain period. The game's graphic design is pretty much identical to Pharaoh. There are more units: buildings, resources and, of course, monuments added. As for the sound... the same. The developers went with the same choice of themes and music samples. How cheap!
The add-on contains a map editor, giving the more creative minds the chance to create their own campaigns. If it wasn't for the new objects and units, Cleopatra would look as a well-done collection of homegrown campaigns. The editor features a fine help menu, but the rest of the game is apparently lacking a manual? I guess they figure we all have our Pharaoh manuals? I suppose those Impression Games guys did this because Cleopatra is intended for true Pharaoh lovers. The complexity of the game and missions only asserts this.
Even though, compared to Pharaoh, Cleopatra is totally unoriginal; it's a beautiful game that attracts with its looks and dynamics rather than originality. Pharaoh is a game that is played for months, and doesn't grow out of date. Anybody that liked Pharaoh, won't be disappointed with this game. There's no blood and gore, beating, rail-gun frags - just old Egypt and you.
People who downloaded Pharaoh and Cleopatra have also downloaded:
Pharaoh, Zeus: Master of Olympus, Caesar 3, Caesar IV, Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Age of Mythology, Age of Empires III
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