CAESAR III REVIEW
by ... Maurice Fitzgerald
all heard the phrase ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, but what does it really
mean? Time to check out Caesar III.
In CIII you will see first hand how the Roman Empire rose to such great heights, and it will be due to your ability to manage resources and build shipping and trading routes as well as commanding forces in the field. As the game progresses you will see that a true empire doesn’t get built in a single day. You certainly won't build your empire in a single sitting.
We concentrate our reviews on combat simulations here, and this is one game where the combat action is weak at best. Although Caesar III suffers this shortcoming, it is an excellent strategy game that will give you hours of challenge. Being a mission based game it is up to you the gamer to choose which path you wish to take with each mission; peaceful or hostile.
In peaceful missions you will be faced with objectives such as building a larger populace, creating effective trade routes as well as ensuring that your community prospers and increases in proportion to the goals Caesar sets forth for you. You’re hired on as a low-level government official and Caesar gives you simple goals at first to test your ability (and to ease you, the gamer, into the gameplay.) Once you’ve accomplished these you are rewarded with further provinces to govern, and build each increasingly more difficult and involved.
In hostile missions you will be faced with the same above challenges as well as military ones. Tasks such as defending your province through building defensive structures and troop barracks will add more management challenges for you to tackle.
Unlike Microsoft’s Age Of Empires, this game is strictly single player. But don’t let that turn you off, this one has so much to offer in terms of flexibility and replayability; you’ll never miss multiplayer. Having the opportunity to choose from either a peaceful or hostile province is like having two games in one. Add to that the added choice of a city building kit that allows you to build your city your own way without following Caesars agenda, and you now have three games in one.
I had played my old copy of Sim City to death years ago and was happy to find Caesar III has a stunning resemblance in playability to that old favorite of mine. I love combat sims, I love blowing stuff up and causing massive carnage. But I also have the desire to build instead of destroy, and Caesar III now has a permanent place on my hard drive because of it's incredibly enjoyable and challenging substance.
The combat model in the game is very simple and for this reason may turn off fans of RTS combat titles. You basically build one of three military structures: a barracks, military academy or a fort. Unlike AOE, your troops are automatically created for you. Combat is carried out by selecting the unit you wish to use and pointing them to the place on the map you wish them to move to or unit to attack. They will then travel to the destination and battle will commence.
As simple as this is, it serves it's purpose, because Caesar III was not intended to be primarily a combat game, but rather a strategy title of empire building. I had hoped for a bit more in the combat department and if that’s all you’re looking for you may be disappointed. After having tried the combat side of the game I’ve stayed away from it because I just can’t get enough of the city building side. There’s so much more to do here than in any combat game, and I prefer to concentrate on honing my governing skills.
On starting the game you are given your assignment via courier from Caesar. A starting allotment of funds and a piece of wilderness to build on is yours, then it’s up to you to bring in immigrants. You set up plots of land for sale for housing for people to occupy, construct farms to feed your people and ensure there are proper roads to allow access to all facilities.
Building an effective road network is one area of this game you will find a bit frustrating at first, as your people have a tendency to wander almost aimlessly down roads unless you lead them to and from proper avenues. If you want people to get to the market you must build a road that will lead them to the market, the same for the theaters, granaries, and other structures you build. After a few times playing through missions you’ll get the hang of it, and thankfully Sierra has made this an adaptive game where you start small and slowly increase size with each mission.
As governor you must take into account not only food and housing but religious well being, as not only do your people need this but the Gods demand it. There are five Gods: Ceres, Neptune, Mercury, Mars and Venus who demand tribute or you can incur their wrath. This is accomplished through building temples for each respective God as well as holding festivals. Please them and your people and city will prosper, forget about them and they can make life miserable for you. I recommend holding festivals as often as you can, at least every couple of months.
Once you’ve established your basic needs such as people and farming to supply food you must supply your city with water in the form of reservoirs and fountains. Health concerns are managed through hospitals, doctors and bath houses. Security and building upkeep is done through proper placement of prefectures and engineer posts. These will provide you with workers who will inspect and fix crumbling structures as well as the local ‘bucket brigade’ to deal with fires.
As your city increases in size you’ll need to keep a good eye on food supplies and even start a trade route to other parts of the Empire to increase your cash flow and provide further foodstuffs and other necessities. Creating clay pits and lumber yards will allow you to make pottery and furniture both for export as well as local sale which will increase the desirability for people to live in your city. Failure to keep your people well fed and happy can hurt the growth of your city.
Go to Part II
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Last Updated January 13th, 1999