CivCity: Rome

By on September 27, 2006

JR takes a look at Firefly Studio’s city management simulator.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

CivCity Rome is a city management simulator by Firefly Studios and Firaxis Games. CCR puts you in the place of a governor with the tall task of transforming tiny towns into terrific testaments to Rome’s glory and majesty. Many should recognize Firaxis Games as the brainchild behind the mind-numbingly addictive Civilizations series – games which never failed to elicit those three simple words from our mouths: "One more turn". Unfortunately, CCR only succeeded in making me cry out, "Isn’t there more?"

Getting CCR up and running was generally problem-free. The game’s installation was quick and easy but the manual, which I read through from cover-to-cover, seems to be more of an afterthought written up by one of their interns. Not only were there obvious grammar and spelling mistakes, many sections were just blatantly copied-and-pasted to add volume. There’s an in-game tutorial by way of the first few missions as well as the provided tips and these generally do a good job of introducing you to the number of options available to you.

The proper game doesn’t really start until you meet Crassus. He gives you your first real task by instructing you to found the city or Tarentum. These missions are a lot longer and more involved than the first few but it soon becomes evident that it’s just more of the same. In order to improve the housing level, you must satisfy your residents’ needs by providing them with water, food, clothing, olive oil, and over a dozen other amenities. The problem is that so many of these goods are handled the same way with just different names. Grapes are turned into wine, goats are slaughtered for meat, and linen is woven into tunics.

The game touts a few key features such as the ability to look inside people’s homes, keep track of the families in your city, and wonders. Unfortunately, there’s not much reason to actually zoom into a house or follow a family around in its day-to-day activities unless you’re just curious or you want to follow some stalker fantasy of yours; and there aren’t all that many wonders to build. Please don’t let it be the latter. There’s also a military part that you can play on certain campaigns but even the game itself admits that war is "simple". In fact, there are only 2 units available: legionnaires and velites (javelin throwers).

Visually and aurally, the game is satisfactory but only barely. Simulations are almost always more heavily weighted by gameplay rather than pixel-shaded graphics and positional audio so it’s not terribly important. What is important though is the fact that there is a particularly nasty bug when you try to use any resolution higher than 1024 x 768- you won’t be able to click directly on buildings or citizens to select them. The interface is not very intuitive and takes some getting used to. Also- this isn’t really a gripe- why is it that Romans  in movies and games tend to have British accents?

CCR isn’t a terrible game but it could have been so much more. The production values were lacking in too many aspects and could have used a lot more polish. The premise was great but it just wasn’t executed well enough.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
6
Repetitive and somewhat irritating
GRAPHICS
7
Good enough for what it needs but lacks flair
SOUND
6
Not very immersing but the music is sometimes very fitting
VALUE
6
Nothing new and lacks polish
FUN FACTOR
6
Isn't there more?
OVERALL
6
Feels like it was built in a day.

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