Nemesis of the Roman Empire Review (PC)

The era of the Republic of Rome was a turbulent time in the world. Rival empires often clashed in violent confrontations for control of the Roman world, and different heroes and villains crossed history's stage, some forgotten, and others making an impact. In Haemimont's new offering, players can take to the battlefield and refight the various wars that are so a part of this era.

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A sequel to the award winning 'Celtic Kings: Rage of war,' and draws on this game engine for its basic system of play. For those unfamiliar with this system, the game is a semi-tactical level 'recruit and fight' game with varied unit types that are abstracted, as they do not represent and set number of men. As is the habit with designers these days, fantasy elements enter the game, and there are magic type units, as well as heroes. The game may come across as 'Age of Empires' on steroids, but it is actually quite different from that game system.

Unlike the AoE way of games, there is no building of structures and resource gathering to bother about. Instead, the game revolves around setting up supply lines from your allied villages to your home city. You need food and gold to build and maintain your army, so it is vital to hold villages, as only they can send you the food you need, and the gold you must have. Unlike other games, food mule caravans actually appear on the map, and can be intercepted and destroyed, as well as captured. In your home stronghold these resources are brought, and from there, you can spend them on units, upgrades, and other matters that will concern you in the game.

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The game comes with five ready made 'adventures' (that are what the scenarios are called) that let players take command of different armies of the period, such as the Gualic Celts, the Carthaginians, as well as the Romans themselves. There are a number of separate and unique units for each army, and you can build quite a lot of units in the game. Heroes act as battlefield leaders, you can attach units to a hero, and when you do, you can form simple formations as well as get some bonus from being in certain types of formations. The unit types come in three basic flavors, hand to hand combatants (infantry types), missile weapon troops, and horsemen. Seige weapons can be made by grouping any ten infantry to build a catapult on the spot, with nothing else needed.

Combat in the game is handled in the familiar Age of Empires style, each unit having a life bar, and units can regain strength from some special units, as well as from garrisoning some buildings. The capture of building is handled in an unusual manor, your forces basically surround an enemy building, and if unoccupied, 'yell at it' you a bit. This is portrayed quite literally, you see your units yelling, and as they do, if the building is empty, it losses loyalty until it falls to you. If it is occupied, you must wear it down with missile troops as well as catapults. Occupied buildings will also shoot back at enemy troops. Supply is portrayed in this game, if you march your army about the large maps, you will notice they lose strength, unless you bring along a mule with food, and several if it is a long trip.

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The game interfaces are very smooth, you can switch between your tactical map to a much larger strategic map, and see allied forces as well as your own, and even enemies if they move near your buildings. You can easily save the game at any point, and there are excellent in game help menus that explain each building and unit and what they do. The game's tutorial is also well done, presented as a little adventure that step by step explains how to fight, make formations, conduct seige operations, recruit new forces and manage your cities. Only supply is glossed over in the tutorial.

Like most new games, the units and terrain are quite excellent looking, but there are some problems. The units look somewhat awkward when moving, the horses aern't well animated either. They aern't bad, just not quite right, but is doesn't detract from the game. Uniforms for each army look good and are distinctive, and the combat animation is also good. The AI is problay the greatest strength of this game, it is very difficult to beat, and if it cheats, I haven't seen how, you will have a tough time on the normal and hard levels. Sound is decent, but a few more themes would have been better. The unit sounds are not so good, I don't know why companies devout so little to this, voice acting lately is uniformly bad.

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Overall, this is an excellent effort, the game is fun, challenging, and difficult to beat. It also has a random map generator, so it has a lot of replay value along those lines. Hopefully, there will also be additional adventures published for this game. I highly reccomend it.

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