Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release Date: 10/15/07
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I suck at strategy games. As much as I like the genre, I am simply no good. The History Channel: Great Battles of Rome doesn’t help matters greatly because despite my best efforts, I still suck, but it does provide a level of accessibility that both veterans as well as those without a lot of experience will find something on offer here.
Great Battles of Rome is a blend of RPG and RTS gameplay. Players will earn money and fame as the General, then spend those to recruit various troops and units. Higher level troops will cost fame while regular troops cost Dinari. Certainly that’s not a “locked in stone” rule, but a general guideline. The units have various levels of abilities, such as health, endurance, armor penetration, etc. As they gain experience in battle, these can be upgraded. Weapons can be upgraded as well – and better weapons are of course more effective, and also could provide a morale boost as well.
A wide variety of troops and units are on offer, as one would expect. There is of course the general – whose presence on the battlefield is more for his own troops rather than as a combat unit. Players will also have access to archers, heavy and light infantry, cavalry and more, including elephants.
A lot of time will be spent in Army Camp, as this is where the configuring and upgrading of troops and units will take place. Then it is on to the Battle Plan, where units are places and players are able to issue “standing orders” (defensive, attack certain target, etc.). Of course during the battle, play can be paused and orders given or changed as necessary. At the end of the battle, the scenario can be replayed (even on fast forward) as a learning experience for the next battle.
If more than 100 battles on three different difficulty settings wasn’t enough, there is the ability to create a custom battle scenario as well as 1 on 1 LAN multiplayer. This is more of an “arcade” style skirmish mode where a variety of scenarios can be established as well as customizing the troop and map type - such as kill a certain percentage of the enemy, survive for XXX minutes, the enemy general must be killed, etc.
The game starts out going up against the various Italian tribes, eventually the Gauls and Samnites. With cutscenes (at least some) taken from the television program, the game looks to be as broad reaching as The History Channel’s series aims to be.
While I didn’t have the easiest time playing the game, I got a taste for what there will be on offer when the game launches. Yes, I don’t do well in the genre, but this one was fun enough to keep me coming back over the course of a week to try it out – and that says something about a game, at least to me. It’s not the game’s fault that I suck at strategy games, and Great Battles of Rome certainly has me coming back to keep working at getting better.
Certainly not catering to the "hardcore" strategy gamer, Great battles of Rome seems to have enough for all types, from casual fans to those familiar with the genre. The menus and interface need some cleaning up and streamlining, but it really is a solid offering so far.