Pick your family, amass your fortune, help your friends and build your Rome. Haemimont Games brings you Grand Ages: Rome
Pick your family, amass your fortune, help your friends and build your Rome – Haemimont Games show that if you’ve got the cunning then Rome is yours.
Grand Ages is the third entry from the development team having already established their love for the bygone centurion days with Imperium Romanum and Glory of the Roman Empire. While on the surface you might be fooled that only the visuals are packing anything new, Haemimont have in fact made some rather fundamental changes to the day-to-day of city building and tuned up the army.
The greatest change is that you now pick an avatar that you’ll be living your Roman political life through, and ultimately decide the fate of your fellow countrymen. They aren’t just some pretty portrait either as they can be improved with skills or can even buy up property around the empire to assist in future challenges. The story goes that your family is in some dire straits and you need to stay clear of Rome for a while, to this end you’ll be taking some low level positions to slowly build up your influence and even come across some notable Latin VIPs along the way. There will come a point when you’ll need to make your allegiances quite clear to all of Rome, but until then you’re free to choose which peaceful or turbulent settlements you want to take on. What family you decide to be a part of has an impact too as each come with unique strengths like extra military prowess or getting on better with the people.
Maps are big and mouth watering for the savvy Roman governor.
As you pack in more buildings the more life you’ll see and hear.
You progress through the campaign by choosing to fulfil favours for different people of import around the empire; this lets the player decide if they want to pursue a quieter life or get stuck in with the sword. This is where you begin to take sides in the impending civil war brewing between the dictator Julius Caesar and the Republic senate, all the while padding your own character’s pockets with coin and buying up some juicy real estate. The missions are more varied and now that you have your own political career with RPG-like traits and bonuses to nurture too, the game has less of that ‘rinse and repeat’ feeling the previous titles were plagued with; there were only so many times you could summon the desire to rebuild everything from scratch to accomplish the same end result after all.
The turning cogs of industry have been revamped with Haemimont shifting focus away from micromanagement and more toward the enjoyment of shaping the settlements themselves. The cities feel so much more alive thanks to this new approach, as you plop down buildings the game itself fills in nooks and crannies with pots, stalls, shrubs and citizens going about their day. Buildings can now take advantage of one another or being placed in certain beneficial areas which help boost prestige or output. While resource and city management has been simplified, with housing now fixed to what class of citizenry you want, there arise new challenges you must adapt to or face an unhappy mob.
The snobbier the residents the more variety they’ll want in food, entertainment and religion. Of course you could always 'employ' slaves which means you don’t need to supply another neighbourhood with amenities – they’re slaves after all. For the grander of architecture you can now erect structures on raised platforms, and to help keep track of your progress in the level you can commission a forum which will become littered with monuments to your achievements. Grand Ages makes use of the radial menu from the previous games where you select what buildings to place next, and remains as easily accessible as ever.
Soldiers are much less of a choir to train and to handle in battle.
Visually the game is superior, and at times even stunning.
Resource production and consumption are static numbers so you won’t be concerning yourself with stock levels, meaning you don’t need to factor in times it takes workers to transport or finish making goods. Don’t mistake this for easy street though because much like its predecessors, the game uses radial area of effects for all its buildings so workers and goods will only travel or be provided so far. This keeps you juggling what a particular area needs and how much space you have to fit them in, trying to create a perfect Roman city is far harder than you might think as resources get stretched.
To help ease the burden of your fledging industrial hubs you’ll have research available which not only improves the level of goods but bolsters your settlement with new buildings too. In some cases researching new techs will become essential as your town grows and you need to flex military muscle, make more efficient use of production and help protect the people from disease or disaster. To help manage the growth of your towns and cities you can now zoom extremely far out and take in your creation. The UI is clean and simplified to easily show you the state of the cities flow resources and help you plan what more you’ll need to expand further.
You can choose between peaceful or turbulent provinces.
Never underestimate the power of the pleb, unemployment means crime.
Recruiting armies and sending them off to the frontlines is much easier and one area Haemimont has really been working hard on. Previously battles were rather haphazard but thanks to the team paying close attention to the gripes of the community, units now act better and are easily led around the battlefield. The variety has been amped up too with 18 different units each carrying abilities like cavalry being able to charge at the enemy, which is only possible thanks to the more traditional RTS approach to combat. The men can be trained up some levels to help their sturdiness against enemy forces but can only acquire so much experience before needing to engage in real combat to advance further. Trade still plays an important role and is something you should always keep your mind open to and is contingent upon you being able to secure the trade posts with soldiers.
Top Game Moment:
GRAND AGES: ROME VERDICT
Grand Ages: Rome offers a lot of improvements from team Haemimont as the cities are much more fun to put together and feel natural with plebs, equites and other walks of life going about their days. While the military side has received a polish and is much easier to handle now, it still lacks a certain depth that would have otherwise complimented the excellent city building of Grand Ages.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Watching the city breathe and panning through ‘neighbourhoods’ you’ve built along the way, listening to the sounds of the people – it’s like appreciating your own art, before it riots and burns down your bakery.