God games. Don’t you just love ‘em? It’s the one style of game that gives you, a lowly human, total control over life, death and the mushy bits in between. Doubtless you’ll have heard of the big three God game brands: SimCity, Populous and Civilisation. All excellent in their own way, but there’s another that hasn’t had quite so much of the limelight: Caesar. Also known (by this reviewer, anyway) as SimCity With Spears.
The first Caesar game was OK but not outstanding. The second, however, was a real triumph of addictive gameplay and realistic graphics. Take control of the Roman citizens, build up their civilisation by teaching them new skills and then watch in despair as they all get wiped out by a neighbouring force. This new version is pretty much the same in concept, but the implementation is a thing of wonder. Gorgeous, detailed graphics, an uncluttered and intuitive interface and a set of tutorials that get you right into the game without delay all make this game a classic waiting to happen.
Your ultimate goal is to become… well, given the title of the game you can probably work that one out for yourself. To get to that top rank, though, you’ll have to build your pitiful little hamlet into a thriving city, with soldiers to defend it from all comers. This, it has to be said, takes time. There’s nothing like a God game to absorb every spare moment of your life, and this is one of the most absorbent of them all, particularly as it is by no means easy to master. You have to pay careful attention to the feelings of your citizens and the layout of your hamlet/village/town/city in order to make the grade. Will you fiddle while Rome burns? Don’t, you’ll go blind.
Such is the beautiful detail of the graphics, and particularly the animation, that it’s even fun to watch other people playing the game. Of course, it’s far more fun to play it yourself, but be prepared for a serious loss of social life. One quick game is never enough.