Review by DiabloMantis
"The Best of its Kind"
Before Caesar 3, I had never really played or heard of a "city-building" strategy game. The genre does not have many remarkable or outstanding titles. Caesar 3 is definitely at the top, though, for a number of reasons. Even after the time it has aged, it continues to be one of my favorite games of all time, because of how absolutely addictive it is.
Caesar 3 came out several years ago, and as such, you would assume that its graphics are incredibly outdated. This might be true to a degree, but it is in no way something terrible to look at. The images are not remarkable, but they certainly develop the premise well, that being the development of a Roman City. I don't necessarily find annoying the fact that the buildings and 'walkers' (inhabitants that run around your city streets) are not to scale, but it would have been nicer if they coincided a bit more. Sometimes its annoying to see your Roman Prefect patrol a neighborhood that he towers over.
I enjoyed the music in the game, and it may seem odd, but I almost interpreted it as an incentive that the music got progressively better as your town grew. The music begins, as your city does, as a very simple thing, a tune with only a few different instruments, and grows into an elaborate Roman Fanfare as your population reaches certain levels. The fact that most of the citizenry speaks is also interesting, as it helps make it feel more lifelike that these people really care about what they're talking about.
The gameplay was and still is unique to itself. Similar games in the series, being Pharaoh and Zeus, resemble it to a degree, but it has a style all its own. You must develop a city from literally nothing. A Roman Highway goes through your territory, which is nothing more than a simple dirt path that indicates where your citizens will immigrate and emigrate to and from. From this, and the starting funds Caesar has entrusted to you, you are required to build a city (either in a mission, with requirements, or simply in a free build). You begin by placing houses next to your road, and providing them with water. Then, you'll develop food production, and get your people receive government given food, which will cause them to 'evolve' their houses to the next level of advancement. With higher levels of housing, comes more tax revenue, and more demand for exotic goods. Eventually, you'll establish trade routes, wherein you gather the majority of your money, and you'll build massive structures like the Roman Collosium and the like. The combat is somewhat limited, but then, that is not what the game is about. Combat is as good as it needs to be.
You may think that some of this sounds like the Simcity series, but it is far different. You have a much more in depth role as you essentially build everything except your cities homes, which you can only designate land to. You decide what industry is built where, where the entertainment goes, etc. There is a lot more to do and a lot more to control than in any Simcity game at a strategic level.
While not perfect, as there are some AI pathfinding flaws, and sometimes you just can't get people to go where you want, this game is very good. You will obviously never build the same city twice, but most of the time, the challenges in terrain and resources cause you to develop a whole new strategy, and the campaign mode will have you building dozens of cities, without a strong feeling of repetitiveness. If you enjoy thinking, planning, and strategy, this game is not worth passing up. I recommend the demo to get into it, as it is what got me hooked on the game. Then again, its not expensive at all, probably about ten dollars, so you might just as well go out and buy it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/22/05
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