The main campaign is essentially a tutorial to introduce you to the different aspects of the game. Once you feel like you know what you’re doing, the stand alone missions are there to provide a challenge for whatever style of game that you would like to play. There are three styles, you can either have a no objectives or free build game, a game with economic objectives or one that focuses on military objectives. As a new governor, the first order of business is to build your town center. This allows people to come to the city and begin to look for employment. Depending on your objective, various buildings are needed to accomplish your task. Whether its gathering stone, wood or food, the appropriate structures need to be built to keep your city happy, well fed and housed.
The city’s happiness meter is cheerfully displayed by a happy face in the report scroll on the top of your screen. There is a list of factors that determine your city’s happiness and some you can adjust, such as wages and rations, where as some can’t be controlled. The layout of the pages is what makes this game different than the other city builders I’ve played. There is a Civilopedia that will provide you with interesting facts. Granted some of the blurbs are short, and it might seem like a children’s book, but it adds an interesting look to the game. The weathered and historical looking backgrounds are a nice touch, making it all look rather ancient.
The graphics won’t make your jaw drop, but the way everything is laid out and the structures you can build are interesting enough to keep you occupied. You can’t zoom right up to their faces, but you can track an individual person. The camera only rotates around in a circle and zooms in and out. It’s too bad that it isn’t more flexible than that but it serves its purpose. The fact that you are able to track your individual citizens is fun feature, and they’ll provide little quips here and there to keep you amused. By clicking on a house, shop, or watchtower, you can see what the individual is doing. You can even set the amount of hours that they work, obviously if they are working all the time the happiness meter will go down. A break for a worker once in awhile will allow them some free time to collect commodities for their home. There are several types of housing, and in order for a house to upgrade to the next level, they need to have access to certain commodities. Assuming that they even have a home, it’s always a good idea to make sure there is enough housing to go around, and that they aren’t walking too far to get to get work. Building roads isn’t a necessity, but it does allow people to travel faster and be more productive.
There is a researching feature that lets you make improvements on how your city runs. Researching things like mathematics will increase your tax revenue by 10% and researching mysticism leads to more happiness ratings for your city. As you research different fields, more items will come up for you to look into. They cost time and money, so you need to plan accordingly depending on what your objectives are.
By clicking on the “Empire” icon at the top of your screen, you will see a map of the region. You can establish trade routes and build roads to trading cities as well as invade other enemy cities. There are three types of cities, Roman cities that have trade, neutral cities where you need to pay to open a trade route and barbarian cities that may attack you. You can build an army beginning with a fort and can have a maximum of three forts in your city. You can send your troops to stop enemy forces before they come or keep them around the city.
The music in the game is relatively tame, nothing glorious or extremely motivating but it doesn’t really get on your nerves either. The sound doesn’t really stand out much, only if you really listen in you’ll hear the random hustle and bustle of the city. By clicking around on people or the buildings, you’ll get a better idea of what their life is like by their comments.
CivCity: Rome felt like a learning experience as well as a game. I’m not sure if I really learned that much from it, but the historical facts included were a nice touch and provided me with something interesting to read. Visually speaking, it could have been much better but the way this game was presented was still very well done. The menus and icons are big, but they weren’t overly complicated. With the success and popularity of the Civilization series, it wouldn’t be wise to have high hopes just based on the name. Nonetheless, CivCity: Rome is still an enjoyable city builder with something to offer.