Grand Ages: Rome Review

We try to make a Grand empire!

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 28th April 2009

Grand Ages: Rome

  • Developer: Haemimont Games
  • Publisher: Kalypso Media
  • Release Date: 6th March 2009

Grand Ages: Rome is the sequel to last years Imperium Romanum, but does this city building strategy game build on the foundation laid by its predecessor? Well not really instead it feels very much like a tweaked version of the original game. So much so that I had to actually replay Imperium Romanum again to spot the few differences between the titles, which sadly are few and far between?

The premise of Grand Ages: Rome is simple to build a prosperous city and make sure the needs and wants of it population are met in order for it to grow. Of course there are times you will have to defend your Roman city from Barbarian attacks utilising the might of the Roman war machine. Although just as in the last game this is hardly ever required of you, and on some maps in the game there aren’t even any barbarian camps to pose a threat to your city! This for me is quite puzzling as when I interviewed the developers Haemimont Games they told me the combat system had been completely rebuilt. Shame that you rarely get to test it out once again!

On the whole the game play is very similar to the original game. Buildings all require resources to function properly making each plot placement important, in order for it to work, even more so in this game as buildings placed next to certain others will often earn you a bonus and make your population easier to please. There are also a number of other bonuses for you to earn which will improve your city’s ability to grow and these are usually achieved by making sure your citizen’s needs are meet to a predetermined level.

So how does Grand Ages: Rome, improve on Imperium Romanum? Well first off the game is a lot more stable then the original game, with improved menus, cleaner interface and better camera controls. The campaign has also been devised to play as you would expect from a strategy title. And this time you are given a persistent character to play as, and you can chose a character from one of the five families represented from Roman history. The biggest single improvement over last year’s game though is the addition of multiplayer mode. Grand Ages: Rome features six multiplayer modes to extend the life of the title which allow you to play either co-operatively or competitively and are a welcome addition to the game. Or would be if you could find anyone to play with, which is something I failed to achieve in two solid days of play?

Visually the game is very much improved over Imperium Romanum, with cleaner looking buildings much nicer details such as a day night cycle, new weather effects and much improved lighting and shadow effects. The game does introduce several new models for building which are improved versions of those featured in the original game. But the games detail is only really appreciated when zoomed in close as you are able to see graffiti on walls and people going about their daily business, sadly though this is something you will rarely do.

Sound is very much as you would expect the game features a classic style soundtrack and sound effects are all the usual ambient and construction noises of any city building game set in the period. The campaign narrative has been improved upon from the original game, though nothing really stands out in this department.

I always believe a sequel should provide enough new content to make its purchase worthwhile. But to be honest Grand Ages: Rome simply doesn’t do this for anyone who bought Imperium Romanum. The game is simply far too similar this coupled with the fact its release is only a year after the original, means that it just isn’t a worthwhile follow up for anyone who owns the first game. Yes it feels like a more complete version, but a sequel? No!

Review Score: 6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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