|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Haemimont Games / Kalypso Media||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Viva Media||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The variety of soldiers you'll have at your disposal is fairly lackluster, but this is more excusable since the emphasis is not solely on warfare. Units primarily fall under only a small handful of categories, including foot soldiers, archers, horsemen, and siege machines. Recruiting anything but the basic soldiers requires special buildings and higher caste citizens that can't be attracted to your city until you've got a solid handle on the economic balance and expansion.
Different unit types possess special abilities to help turn the tide of battle, and you can have them train to level-up rather than simply stand around waiting for a fight. Selecting a unit opens up an action menu with important info on your troops. Issuing orders is done with a simple click. The problem is the orders menu that pops up when an army is selected obscures a third of the screen, making it particularly difficult to get a good view of what's happening on the battlefield while tracking the stats of your troops and issuing commands. Adding just the right flavor of RTS combat into the mix is a necessity in a 4X game. However, the warfare aspect of Grand Ages: Rome doesn't quite pass muster.
Though the camera can be finicky at times, you're afforded a good level of flexibility in watching your city grow from a birds-eye view or down at street level. With the graphics boosted to their higher settings, the game's visuals are quite impressive. Even at a distance, your city bustles with life as the ant-like citizens move back and forth throughout the streets, enter buildings, and go about their daily lives. Zoom down to just-above street level, and you can watch them in closer detail. The same goes for battle, and the animations are believable. Weather will change as storms roll in, and the visual changes in day and night cycles are well done. There are plenty of pleasant finishing touches applied to the game, but there's going to be a noticeable tradeoff in performance when using machines that aren't above the minimum system requirements.
War-minded players will find some aspects of the battle implementation in Grand Ages: Rome to be severely lacking. In contrast, achieving economic balance and social bliss through careful layout and design of your empire is extremely rewarding. It's enough to mostly make up for the game's other shortcomings. Though Rome wasn't built in a day, you'll certainly find yourself building for days.
CCC Staff Contributor