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a.k.a. "City Builders"
Strategy and tactics take a back seat to economic management. In the City Builder genre, everything is indirect. You play the part of a manager, making decisions that flow on to your city as your citizens do all the work..
Caesar III (1998)See Great Empires Collection II.
|Ancient City building series established originally by Impressions, which included games like Caesar III and Pharaoh. (See Great Empires Collection II). This installment was developed by Breakaway Games. Finally moving away from the Mediterranean, this game transplants itself into Ancient China. The Middle Kingdom was the name the Chinese gave to their great country itself. As they saw it all those years ago, China was the beacon of culture and civilization in a sea of barbarism - a parochial view which probably wasn't that far of the mark, all things considered. China comes across as monolithic to outsiders, simply because it went through the process of national consolidation and cultural unification thousands of years before anyone else. This game starts in 2100BC to progress through several thousand years of history before coming to a stop when the Mongols, led by Genghis Khan, effectively ended it 1211. There's seven separate campaigns which take your single player experience right through this long period of history. Apart from the usual economics and infrastructure, you also have to accommodate Feng Shui, the Chinese Zodiac (e.g. Year of the Monkey, the Rat, etc.), Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Of course, you also get to build the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Army and a host of other great works.|
Glory of the Roman Empire (2007)
This is a spin-off, I think, from Bulgarian developers Haemimont Games' historical strategy game series called Celtic Kings. Celtic Kings mixed elements of roleplaying games with real time strategy gaming in a historical context, and eventually leaned more and more to focus on the Roman Empire under the Imperivm name. Glory of the Roman Empire takes that focus and fixates solely on the Romans and no one else. It's a pure and straightforward city simulator, using a perfectly serviceable 3D engine and some rather nice, if not simple (and a little bland) game elements.
While all the sims in the game has a name, an occupation, and a few opinions they're more than willing to pass on to you when selected, population numbers are very small. Even sizeable towns may not have much more than a few hundred souls in them. Each Domus (i.e. house) you build becomes a growing household, complete with scampering children and pottering geriatrics. Domuses automatically upgrade into finer residences as the quality of the neighbourhood improves, and the upward mobility of your Roman sims drives the demand for a more sophisticated and growing economy.
Nevertheless, the cities are still atomised in nature. Individual characters don't engage in groups, usually walk past any burning buildings with supreme indifference, and live their simple, simulated lives with the community spirit of a group of autistics. Each building operates within a radius of influence, and can only make use of whatever falls within that radius. There's no cohesive sense of an actual city state, and effectively, all those radii turn any large city you build into a cluster of small independent neighbourhoods. Positioning buildings is tricky too, since space very quickly runs out.
Glory makes no bones about the Roman use of slavery as the driving engine of its economy and power, and manacled figures in drab clothing do most of the grunt work around town, hauling materials and toiling in the fields. Apart from being a major chunk of historical Roman society, Slaves were effectively the Roman equivalent of fossil fuels, and much of Rome's empire building was based around trying to secure more slaves. Here, they're nothing more than your standard RTS work gang based entirely from your headquarters, and the whole slavery based economy and social angle is glossed over.
Its a casual sort of game, with lush presentation with a very simple and straightforward approach. Its simple and easy to get into, and quite engaging, but may not provide much replay value down the track. Its certainly has a lovely art style, but I wonder just how sophisticated this thing really is under that pretty veneer. Certainly, anyone looking for a "challenge" is going to find it lacking. The military angle is downplayed, and apart from building a Prefecture in the demo (which had Roman soldier types running around with buckets of water to put out fires) you only get passing generic barbarians to provide any security issues in the full game. The demo doesn't even show any combat, which is very unusual, so presumably that's just as point and click too. Glory could easily keep you interested for a while, and then completely disappear out of sight and mind. So, It's okay, but not that amazing.
The only thing this game will suffer from is being overshadowed by its own sequel, Imperivm Romanvm.
Great Empires Collection II (2002)
This is a long series of loosely connected city building
sims set in Ancient times, sometimes referred to as the Impressions'
Ancient City series, all bundled together in a single collection.
seems to have vanished off the face of the earth, or rather, been acquired,
absorbed and then dissolved by corporate publishers. In fact, you can
only get this strategy compilation package from either Sierra
the original games themselves no longer have any real official Internet
presence anymore it seems, and any attempt to trace Impressions simply
redirects you back to these megapublishers' front doors with the additional
note that they have no idea what you're talking about.
Master of Olympus (2000)
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom (2002)
|Impressions' leading light in the City Building department has gone and established a new studio called Tilted Mill Entertainment, with the ambition of making some serious City Building, roleplaying and strategy games. Their first outing sounds like the start of a new city building series: and Children of the Nile kicks off by updating the historical city building genre and propels it into an immersive 3D environment. At last, not only can you build your city up from nothing, you can stroll around with the virtual citizens late in the afternoon and watch the sun set over your palaces and fields.|
Imperivm Romanvm (2008)
This is the sequel to Glory of the Roman Empire, by the same developer Haemimont Games. Read that RTSC entry first, then come back here. Imperivm Romanvm is pretty the same game except with a graphic upgrade and a few little extras tossed in to spice up the pot.
But that's really only the weakest part of the game. Imperivm Romanvm is really all about city building and management. In that regard, its a step up from its predecessor, with a greater sense of scale, realism and far sharper sense of historical context. Most of the missions are taken from a historical timeline, where you can assume control of actual historical cities (although not necessarily accurately mapped ones) and mess around with them. The game spends a lot of time throwing in historical tidbits, trivia and general knowledge of the period, making it feel more educational than its predecessor. You can complete the missions as they come or noodle around with them afterwards.
Like Glory of the Roman Empire, this is easily accessible for a general audience and not too challenging for most strategy gamers. Its alright, if not a little bland. If you had to choose between the two games, you'd probably go for this version.
CyberLore's fantasy kingdom simulator, where you function as King in a world of stereotypically Tolkine heroes, monsters, elven magic, and the usual gang of suspects. Like many sims, you don't control units directly so much as commission missions and buildings, setting appropriate rewards to achieve your goals. Heroes then sally forth and complete these quests for you. The more you develop your kingdom (building taverns and markets, say) the more likely you'll attract better bonuses and keep better characters. Its imperative to keep your kingdom running efficiently in order to be able to complete the missions, but you might find the game's Sean Connery impersonations a bit much.
Gold Edition (2002)
Majesty 2 - The Fantasy Kingdom Simulator
Not to be confused with the old 1991 SSI game of the same name, Monte Cristo's Medieval Lords is a city builder set in the Middle Ages that, for once, frees itself of the shackles of a square grid board and produces a genuinely organic looking settlement, albeit a rather primitive looking one. Its not too bad I suppose, but it lacks polish and it looks dated and horribly rudimentary now. It certainly has that lumpy, low-rent Nineties gaming look going for it, when developers were migrating to 3D environments for the first time, without really knowing how to fill in the small details and make their worlds look convincing.
If I recall correctly, laying out the townships and managing your settlements wasn't too bad. But game mechanics are shallow, the enemy AI's pretty stupid, and it suffers from many small programming quirks, such as boats passing through bridges like ghosts, units travelling like robots in straight lines between waypoints, and so on. You'd be better off checking out some of the other city builders listed here.
Pharaoh (1999)See Great Empires Collection II.
Railroad Tycoon series (2003)
A Civilization style railroad builder game that runs in slow real time, by those masters of sim management, PopTop Software. Recreate great historical railway projects and carve out your epic transportation empire across some famous landscapes: western USA, Spain, Eastern China and others. At the heart of this series is a sophisticated market economy and stock market that your train system becomes an integral part of. There's dozens of train types from different ears, 150 different buildings, 35 odd types of cargo to haul and your huge railway empire must not only complete the scenario at hand but also fend off or acquire your rivals. You get to build tunnels, bridges and other mighty projects, and this particular edition is giving into the same 3D lark as every other game these days, allowing for birds eye views or lovingly detailed close-ups of all those classic engines in play.
Railroad Tycoon 3 is the sequel to Railroad Tycoon 2 (1998) which comes in all kinds of editions, the best one probably being the Platinum edition released in 2001.
Settlers, The (series)
The most notable thing in any Settlers game is how the economy works and just how deep it is. In many real time strategy games resources are stashed at your HQ or Town Hall like money in a bank. When a worker builds or repairs, those banked resources are magicked out of thin air regardless of their position on the map. But in The Settlers economy transportation is everything. All goods have to be carried by porters and delivered before anything can happen: distance, topography and building placement is critical. At every step in the economic ladder, materials and goods have to be delivered and removed on foot for everything to run smoothly. Smelters should be close to mines; lumber yards should be close to loggers. Its all too easy to have your economy stall because of only one building or resource being absent or taking too long to arrive when its urgently needed. It takes time for the repercussions of any command decision to become visible; you're not likely to notice anything wrong until the queues get too long and the evidence of your throttled economy becomes glaring. Any fixes to your stalled economy take time to unkink as freshly minted goods are trucked around. Its the antithesis of many fast and furious game designs.
While many games have only one type of worker and dozens of types of armed units, the Settlers has dozens of different workers, but only three or four military units. In Settlers III, there are only Swordsman, Spearman and Bowmen, each rank countering the other. In Settlers IV, you get Swordsmen Archers and a special unit unique to the ancient civilisation you play. Each race has its own special heavy weapon, Cannons for the Chinese, Roman Catapults and so on, but these contraptions require special buildings, a special resource and stores of ammunition that you have to manufacture, and of course, truck out to the weapon on the field.
To actually produce troops, you need to build weapons, which is the ultimate aim for the Settler's layered economy. Elaborate lines of food production must be established to feed your miners, who in turn make available ores that are smelted into ingots; the ingots in turn form the raw material for making tools and weapons. You'll need to make sure there's enough coal to keep all this industry running, enough food to keep the miners happy, and enough stone and wood to keep the building industry sufficiently stocked so that it can build all the necessary infrastructure when you need it.
To expand your territory watch towers and other fortifications have to be built and manned. As you build military structures, your territory is expanded, represented by a line of colour coded markers. Settlers is interesting in that no civilians are ever involved in actual fighting, unless one of the specialized occupations strays into enemy territory. Military actions are waged entirely against military units and towers only. As you take each one, the boundary between you and the enemy changes; any civilian buildings caught outside a border change are automatically destroyed.
Earlier versions of the game were more "pure", in that the player had to discover a lot of the gameplay as they played, fixing holes in their economics as they went. Certainly, in multiplayer games, most of the time could be spent building settlements before one side abruptly flooded the map with troops and quickly won the day. Later versions of the game tended towards a more trigger driven, player directed experience (more WarCraft III-like, if you prefer) which tended to undermine the simple-but-complex premise of the originals.
The Settlers (1993)
The Settlers 2 (1996)
The Settlers III (1998)
The Settlers IV (2001)
Blue Byte releases a 10th anniversay Platinum Pack (2003), bundling the entire series at the point into a single package.
The Settlers: Heritage of Kings (2004)
The Settlers 2: Anniversary Edition (2006)
The Settlers: Rise of an Empire (2007)
Settlers 7 (
Settlers III (1998)Settles down at last, September 2003.
Always had a soft spot for Settlers III & IV, every since I discovered the very first Settlers on the Amiga very early in the Nineties. I never did get the Settlers section finished, and even had plans to upgrade it to a Settlers IV page. Still drag it out occasionally and still muse over a Settlers IV section...
SimCity 2000 (1995)
SimCity 3000 (1999), SimCity 3000 Unlimited
The Sim- games are building and management games, not real time strategy as such. A simulated world plays before you and you get to poke it with a stick and edit a few things just to see what happens. The player is an outside influence that alters and changes the conditions of this world for their own amusement. There's no conquering or conflict, and basically, no real end to any scenario you start. SimCity involved building and watching the evolution of a small town growing into a large metropolis, and players could spend forever tinkering and adjusting city policy and then sitting back to watch the wheels spin. If they got too bored, they could always see how they city coped by dropping in a plane crash, tornado or even Godzilla! This is entertainment that only a computer can provide, and the sort of interesting thing you might expect an insanely sophisticated instrument like a computer to be capable and worthy of doing. Any of the SimCity titles is highly recommended. See also, Populous series.
Startopia (2001)Tired of blowing shit up? Try galactic reconstruction instead. As Station Administrator, its your job to renovate the Station, opening new segments and providing services, entertainments, spiritual guidance, a bit of Love, and recreating the lost habitats of the planets destroyed in a terrible galactic war. Graphically splendiferous, very droll and quite funny, this is the Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and 2001: A Space Odyssey all rolled into one. Its great! Grab a cocoa and some cheese on toast and start sandboxing your Station today...
Slightly tongue in cheek island simulation by PopTop Software. This is a Glorious Peoples' Building game with a strong dash of Latin American political intrigue. You are the recently installed dictator of a Caribbean island during the height of the Cold War. Whether you are funded by the CIA or supported covertly by the KGB, its up to you to develop and sustain your revolution in spite of counter-revolutionary rebels, Generals who get a little too big for their boots, and the hardship of trying to get your island economy and the Soccer team off the ground. The economy goes as far as modeling the lives of your people as they grow up, go to school, get a job and eventually retire. This is detailed and challenging sim management in the same vein of PopTop's other big title, Railway Tycoon.
Tropico: Paradise Island (2002) An expansion by a different developer, Breakaway Games, when your dictatorial good self tries to attract more tourists, and maybe get to impose new features, like Martial Law! You can buy all this bundled into the Mucho Macho Edition (2002), which adds a few extra scenarios to play with.
Tropico 2: Pirates Cove (2003) another sequel. by yet another developer, Frog City, drops backwards in time to the 17th Century where you become a Pirate King. Instead of tourism, you're plundering the high seas, kidnapping people and keeping an eye on those scurvy ridden buccaneers of yours. And breeding those all important parrots, of course.
Zeus: Master of Olympus (2000)See Great Empires Collection II.
|Age of...||Historical||WW2||Modern||Near Future||Sci-Fi||Spaceships||Fantasy||City Builders||God Games||MMORTS|
|Fantasy RTS Games|
Last modified Fri, Apr 29 2011 by Lindsay Fleay