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‘All Roads lead to Rome’ as the famous saying goes, which is somewhat true in ‘Caesar 3’. Whether you choose a military based career, or you decide to take control of the more peaceful provinces in the empire, you will eventually advance to the rank of Emperor and be expected to administer all aspects of a bustling metropolis. The game was first released in 1998 by Impressions games, a UK based company founded by David Lester, who specialises in historical games and particularly city-building series, such as Pharaoh, Master of Olympus or Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom; as the game’s name implies, Caesar 3 continues from previous games but due to its advancements, not only visually, is really considered a title on its own.
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As mentioned the aim of the game is to build a successful city on different types of terrains, with a variety of geographical features and wildlife: some are hostile, such as wolves, while others pose no threat like zebras or sheep. You can build your city from scratch, taking into account natural water sources, potential points of enemy attack or areas rich on resources, such as iron or marble.
You can also take control of an existing province, which is now in ruins due to its incapable previous governor; in this case, you will be expected to get the basic city structures functioning again and gradually regain its status within the empire. This type of city-building takes place in the ‘Career mode’ of the game, where you can choose a ‘peaceful’, ‘less-peaceful’ or ‘military assignment’, should you wish to implement your notions of the ‘de Bello Gallico’. You can also play in the ‘City construction kit’ mode, which imposes no objectives or goals and gives you total control over what you wish to do with your city.
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The gameplay is intuitive, featuring an isometric perspective and mouse-control over all aspects of the game, from zooming into terrain to selecting the various on-screen panels. On the right-side of the screen there are icons which represent the main structures of your city, such as roads, housing, water-structures, prefectures or engineers. Here you can also find the prettier side of your city, such as entertainment structures, temples, gardens or statues. Building is really simple: all you need to do is right-click on an icon and place your building within a square on the terrain, by clicking again. There is also an emphasis on a better road system, where straight roads are more efficient than lots of junctions. With straight roads it is easier for providers of services, such as a market trader, to walk past your housing districts.
An important feature of the game is also your councillors, which are available at the top of the Overview panel. Here you can find out various aspects of your city’s well or ill being, from the number of available people assigned to work, to open trade-routes or military activity. In the advisors’ section you also have the overall ratings of the game which are: culture, prosperity, peace and favour. The last rating is particularly important, since if you fall out of Caesar’s favour he will send troops to remove you from governance. You can look at a general overview of the city’s status by clicking on your general advisor.
The military aspect of the game is controlled in the city grounds, which differs from original versions of Caesar where they were controlled separately. This makes managing legions somewhat more difficult, as you must prepare before the battle ensues in order to prevent invaders from reaching your city.
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Audio and Music
The voice-overs are one of the great features of the game, since they really add to the living-aspect of the city. You can click on each character with your mouse in order to get his general status and the city’s status as a result. They may tell you that more workers are needed or that there isn’t enough entertainment in their own accents. The various fanfare effects and the music as you are building away are not intrusive at all, and provide a great addition with their martial feel.
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Being an old title you only need a very low-spec PC in order to run the game. Here are the minimum system requirements:
Pentium 133 or better
1 Megabyte Video Card
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A great game to own, which is definitely for more patient gamers or players oriented towards strategic game elements. It will take sometime to complete this as there are a myriad of elements which affect your city and ultimately make it successful or a failure. As you get immersed into the game environment you’ll find this title addicting, and you will eventually experience the satisfaction of managing a fully developed metropolis.