Great Battles of Rome Review (PC)

by May 9th, 2007

Wage war in this simple but enjoyable strategy game.

Over the years there have been many strategy games. Most recently the Total War series has set the bar for what strategy games should look like and how they should play.
So when I picked up the History Channel approved Great Battles of Rome, I was a little concerned that it may not live up to these other great games.

Starting with tutorial, it quickly becomes clear that this is not a game aimed at hardcore strategy gamers. Spilt into 3 phases, you will need to set up your army, position them and set your tactics, then watch the battle unfold.

Setting up your army consists of a few things. As you play through the campaigns you earn gold. This enables you to buy more units for your army and also to upgrade your current units. This adds a kind of RPG aspect to the game. For instance, your scouts survive a battle. You then get the option to upgrade an aspect of them. This could be upgrade their fighting ability, add NCOs (Non Commissioned Officers) to improve moral, add more defensive abilities etc. You can also give them better weapons and armour. Over time you begin to become rather attached to your veterans, to the point that you send them into battle a bit late, to make sure they will survive! To add to this attachment you can even name your units. The same is true of the Commander. Keep upgrading him and you will be allowed access to more options in the main battle.

Next up you will need to position your units on the map. Before this you will be given some hints on what units will do best in what conditions. So positioning horses in the woods will just hinder them, where foot soldiers will do well in there. During this phase you set up your strategy. This includes the formations your units will start off in, when they should attack and if they are going to flank the enemy, surround them or just charge straight in.

If, like me, you just like to dabble or are interested in getting into the strategy genre, this is a great place to start!

Finally the battle. You are given a 3D flyover of the battle field, so you can get a feel for where everything is. Next the troops start their moves. At this stage you can just sit back and watch the battle ensue. However, even the best laid plans can do with some adjustments. You are able to issue new orders, in real time as you see new tactical opportunities arise. Click on a unit and then right click where you want them to move and they will obey. As you upgrade your commander you will even be able to change formations. This real time modification of strategies is great as it allows you to prevent certain greener troops from routing, by holding them back if they are getting a pasting and sending in your veterans to show them how it is done!

Although the battle phase is in 3D, it is not a particularly pretty game. The graphics are dated and have a very budget feel to them. This does mean that you can run this on almost any system, but in this photo realistic age it may put some gamers off. However once you get a good number of units, you do get some large and spectacular looking battles! You also get a lot of History Channel footage to set the scene for campaigns. This gives it all a nice authentic feel. It’s like a stamp of historical approval.

For me this is a perfect strategy game. It is simple, allowing you to concentrate on tactics rather than resource management, like in the Cossacks games. The RPG elements are a nice addition, giving you a reason to protect your units, rather than just letting them charge in and get obliterated. If you are a real strategy game player, then this may be a bit to simplistic for you.

If, like me, you just like to dabble or are interested in getting into the strategy genre, this is a great place to start!

The Good: Instant access strategy. Great Battle scenes. Nice upgrade system.
The Bad: May be a bit simple for some hard core strategists.


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Silver Y AwardSilver Y Award
4 4 / 5
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Andrzej Marczewski

Owner of YARS
Well, lets start by saying that I run YARS. Gaming has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember! I felt there were just too few games review sites out there, so created YARS to fill that sorry looking gap....

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About Andrzej Marczewski

Well, lets start by saying that I run YARS. Gaming has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember! I felt there were just too few games review sites out there, so created YARS to fill that sorry looking gap....

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