Title: Caesar III
Developer: Impressions Games
Publisher: Sierra
Date Published: 1998
Platforms: PC
ESRB Rating: Everyone (Mild Animated Violence)

Caesar III is a real-time strategy game that follows more in the vein of SimCity than StarCraft. It focuses on the construction of the cities, maintenance of the populace, and trading between other cities. This is all handled from a realistic historical perspective.

The game has two distinct campaigns: one for those who like combat, and one for those who don't. But make no mistake, just having a lack of combat doesn't make the game any easier. First, there's raging fires that can quickly sweep the city if it isn't maintained by Prefects, buildings collapse if they aren't kept in shape by Engineers, and people can riot over any number of things (Food, taxes, lack of leisure, unemployment, lack of religion, overcrowdedness of cities, crime, just to name a few.). Add on top of that some streamlined combat, and the game gets very difficult, very fast.

Combat is simple: select a fort with units in it, pick a place for them to fight, and they fight automatically. In the offtime, they pick off roaming herds of sheep. Of course, getting the best units is a problem: iron must be mined and processed into weaponry, the population must be high enough to allow soldiers to enlist into military academies, and this whole deal needs to be timed, or else there'll be an overabundance of one or the other.

Any building in the game has a very well done reference to what the building was used for, who might have done what there, and so forth. By right-clicking on my Palace, I found out (among other things) that Nero's Palace had a circular dining room that rotated with the earth. Didn't know that before. There's lots of nifty tidbits to read this way.

Planning the placement of roads is very challenging. Services like fire protection and food are delivered throughout the city. These services are represented by people walking to places and then turning back again. Any building that was walked by gets a service. However, when this plebe comes to an intersection, it will randomly determine a path to travel. This results in the denial of the service to the other paths, which could possibly need it more.

However, the game does have its fair share of faults: once the population hits about 5000, suddenly every business, shop, market, and forum suddenly needs tons of plebes. Also, fires can jump from building to building, and this is perfectly realistic. However, collapsing buildings can do this too.

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