Put your empire-building skills to work
Grand Ages: Rome is a city-building game in the mould of the classics Age of Empires and Settlers.
It puts the player in control of a small colony in 79 BC, at the dawn of Rome's golden age. As with most games of this type you start with a single building and must build from there to create an entire empire.
The control system is easy to use – instead of key combinations or menus, all building is done by right-clicking, which brings up a ring of symbols representing various types of structure. From there players can put together communities, making sure that the resources coming in match the amount of work that's going on. The basic resource-gathering constructions are the logging centres, stone quarries and farms, which either turn fields into foodstuffs or process the basic food into something citizens can eat.
The graphics of Grand Ages were very impressive – you can zoom right in so that it's possible to see the citizens' faces, and right out to take in an entire island, and while it looked very impressive on a fairly powerful new PC it should run well on older ones too with the detail levels turned down. Sound is never a big draw for city-building titles, and here it's perfectly adequate, with classical-sounding music most of the time and an imperious trans-Atlantic voice narrating the voiceovers.
There's a large manual that explains all aspects of the game in detail, but the in-game tutorials, one for construction and one for battle, were comprehensive too. Battle is less impressive, though. While it forms a big part of the game there's not much choice in the way of units or tactics so if you're more of a war-maker than a city-builder other titles will be more suitable (such as Empire Total War).
The learning curve is fair – it's easy to get started but it's a challenging game and it's necessary to keep tabs on citizens' well-being and hunger otherwise you'll start to see famine and riots, which lead to fires breaking out all over the city.
There are plenty of missions and campaigns to keep things ticking along, and there's enough here, despite the simple interface, to keep even the most hardened empire builders going.
PEGI age rating: 7+
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There's enough here to keep even the most hardened empire builders going
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