A Roman Holiday

Glory of the Roman Empire
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Available For

Next week we will look at two more games with Roman themes, Caesar IV and CivCity Rome. But this week it’s all about glory, Glory of the Roman Empire that is.

Glory is a city building game and unlike the other two titles that have popped up in this genre, does not really have a combat interface. The game is supposedly set during a time when Rome was at its peak, so that no outside enemies existed because they were too afraid to go against the empire. So you won’t have to worry about building up an army, enclosing your towns in high walls or laying siege to those that for some reason, have no desire for your righteous Roman rule. There is a little bit of combat in some missions where you hire mercenaries, but wargamers should look elsewhere.

Of the three big titles in this genre, it is no surprise that Glory, without a true military interface, is the easiest to play. The game does a fine job of starting you out small, giving your tiny villages to run and easy mission goals like building a tavern or mining a certain amount of marble. Once you master the tutorial missions, you will be able to branch out and take on challenges across the empire, though in 90 percent of them you will be in no real danger of losing. It might take you a long time to complete, but of the 20 or 30 scenarios I have played, I only lost about two of them. While this is great for novice simulation gamers, veterans might get a little bored.

Glory is all about building placement. When you put down homes, you will see a little radius around them. That is the maximum distance a resident will travel to go to work or to find supplies. If you put a building outside that ring, don’t expect anyone from the home to go there. As such, the game is all about clustering neighborhoods close together, ringed by services such as food shops, and within easy reach of buildings for the citizens to work. Eventually, you won’t be able to pack anything else into your limited area, so you will need to create a new neighborhood.

Every building also has a radius where it can affect others. For a temple, if any houses are within its radius, they will automatically upgrade. This makes the people inside the upgraded buildings more efficient at their jobs, meaning they will produce more. As such, temples almost always go in the center of your neighborhoods, or at least in the center of the houses.

There is one more thing to consider during building placement as well. Only certain sexes can work in certain buildings. I suspect this was an attempt to make the game more difficult since it’s fairly easy. Only men can work mines or fishing piers for example. But only women can work grain or pig farms. There are a few rare buildings like taverns or markets that are open to everyone. This sex-based work force is actually a bit annoying, because it is difficult to tell where your free workers live. So you might have three unemployed women ready to work your flax farm, but can’t because they happen to live across town. Thankfully, the game does a good job of shifting people to other places so that all the single sex jobs are eventually taken, though sometimes this takes a while.

The biggest problem with Glory is that many things are difficult to find in the game. For example, you will get a notice that people are rioting, often over something stupid like not enough sausages in their neighborhood. But you won’t know that they need sausages unless you find the angry ones, click on them, and see what their beef (or pork) with your rule is. And sometimes the people are just plain stupid. I followed one notorious sausage protester down to city hall and she walked right past a butcher shop with a window full of them.

There are also natural disaster type problems that occur. For example, your town can be besieged by plague or fires. You can, of course, create buildings to counter these threats, but they too have radiuses, so if someone gets sick outside your apothecary shop’s radius, they may not get healed.

You don’t just have citizens in your towns either. You also have slaves. The poor slaves have to carry things around your town because citizens like wheat farmers can’t be bothered to carry their wares over to the bakery. The slaves eat the most basic types of foods you produce so they don’t take up too much of your stores. However, as your town grows, they get increasingly angry at having to do so many chores. And even if they are not pissed about the workload, having to wait for them to hoof it from the city hall across town to your wineries can take forever.

So you need to purchase new slaves, which can be done in groups of ten. Slaves are bought from Rome, and Rome only takes gold, not your dirty chickens. So you will need to trade, or if you are lucky, find a gold mine. You can also build new slave houses, which will put ten slaves in them, so you can position them around your town for maximum efficiency. Growing your slave population is another key to victory.

Which brings up the one bit of combat in the game. On some missions there are barbarian tribes out there in the hills beyond your village. Some of them are friendly and can be traded with, while others hate your toga-wearing butts. The hostile ones will sometimes rally together and rush down on your town in a disorganized raid, which will none the less kill your citizens and burn your buildings down. To protect yourself, you need to build guard towers, which automatically employ four armed solders which will fire arrows and eventually charge out into the melee if needed when the barbarians get close. You don’t have to build many. I have seen two guard towers supporting each other fend off a 60-person raid. Adding a third pretty much locks your town down, at least from one direction.

To take the fight to the enemy, you need to build a small fort. And then, of course, you have to stock it with weapons from shops in your town. When you think you have enough troops inside, you can order them to raid a barbarian village with one of two objectives. First, you can enslave the population, which gives you about half of their numbers in free new slaves, but makes them very bitterly hostile. Or you can wipe them off the face of the earth, slaying them and burning their wretched village to the ground with all the diplomacy of, well, of Ancient Rome.

A neat trick if you have plenty of weapons buildings (which means troops that die in the field are quickly replaced) is to raid a village for the free slaves and then go back and burn it to the ground before they can recover their strength. You don’t actually control your troops however. Just click one time to send your legions on their mission. When they are done, they will come back.

Graphically, the game looks really good. Whereas Caesar IV and CivCity Rome go for a more realistic look, Glory looks more like a sim. This is more a matter of taste than anything else. Glory looks good and you can rotate and zoom in and out as you would expect from a modern sim.

Glory is a solid sim that will have some trouble competing with the two more popular and more advertised titles, but should really appeal to novice simulation gamers or those who truly want a city simulation uncluttered by any real wargaming.

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