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Imperator: Rome

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 7 - 2019

Paradox Interactive’s latest grand strategy title gets all ancient.

There is no denying that Paradox Interactive are the masters of the grand strategy genre, hugely complex games that give the player control over almost all aspects of nation control. With massive titles such as Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron and Crusader Kings under their belts, hopes must be high for whatever era the company turns their sights to next. However, it will also be known by fans of the genre and followers of Paradox Interactive that each of their successful games started out life somewhat less than perfect, and through free patches and paid for DLC became the solid grand strategy masterpieces that they are today. It is at this starting point that we find their latest title, Imperator: Rome, a grand strategy game that takes the player back to the ancient era and charges them to build up an empire to be proud of.

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Keeping with that starting point, it is at the start of Rome that the game begins, specifically 304BC. As is often the case in grand strategy games, the player will find themselves overwhelmed with the choice of starting factions. There are loads to choose from, many of which may be unfamiliar to those with little interest in the ancient world. At this point in time, Rome is nothing but a spot surrounded on all sides by various tribes and nations. But each of these different factions are playable. With that said, having this huge choice doesn’t mean that many different ways to play as the different factions generally come in one of three different types, with republics, monarchies and tribes offering the different play styles.

The huge amount of information available to the player can be another source of confusion. Imperator: Rome throws out so much information that it can be a struggle working out what is important and what can be skimmed over. Of course, every last morsel of info has its use, but the abundance alongside the various different menus that the player will have to negotiate to find what they need can be frustrating until the player gets up to speed with what they actually need to know. The long and short of it seems to be that many of the systems in Imperator: Rome are underused at this point in time, possibly earmarked for further use and depth later on in the games life.

There is a tutorial that players can work through to fill in the basics, and it would be greatly advised to give this a play even if the player is a veteran of the genre. However, for new players the tutorial will come up short as it does only explain one of the three play styles at this point in time, leaving the more adventurous players to find their own way through the fog. That being said, the Imperator: Rome tutorial has to be one of the best tutorials from any of Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy games and will push the player in the right direction.

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So, Imperator: Rome is a sandbox grand strategy game that pretty much leaves the player to choose where they want to take their faction. That being said, there are events and objectives that pop up and can give the player guidance. These objectives are far more personal in the small number of more well known factions that seem to have been emphasised in the game, but can be welcome no matter which faction the player controls.

The player has control over all aspects of their faction, from the economy and diplomacy to military and even religion. When I say control, there is still an emphasis on doing what is right for your faction, and going against the will of the people may well bring about problems down the line. Whether this means simple disapproval or outright civil war, well, that depends on what the player has done.

When it comes to going to war and expansion, doing so without actually upsetting everyone can make things  a little tricky. However, the actual war systems in the game are quite excellent. There is the usual hands off approach that is common in games of this genre, where the player sets their army to battle and then waits for the outcome, but in Imperator the battles are a little more tactical. There are not that many different troop types in the game, and what the player is able to field does depend on the resources they have to hand. For example, mounted archers will need horses. Players are able to assign stances to their armies, making them more of less powerful against certain other stances in a rock paper scissors kind of way, and players can make educated guesses at what the opposing army may choose for their stance, and thus attempt to counter it. Throw into the mix some truly epic sieges, and you have an engaging combat system.

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Outside of combat though, things can be a little more mundane. Aside from going to war, expanding and attempting not to be overthrown by a jumped up general, the player will have to choose their stance regarding other factions, keep their own population happy, and even pander to the various other characters that vie for power. The population is made up of four classes, and players will have to balance this number to keep production up and unrest down. Dealing with the different characters that also exist in the player chosen faction could mean anything from throwing out a quick bribe, to hiring someone to assassinate them.

Aside from staying in power, there is an impressive trade system that allows the player complete control over making money, including who they trade with. Whether the player chooses to trade abroad or keep everything within their own provinces, there are benefits to be reaped and limitations to juggle with. As with most things in Imperator: Rome, the trade system is deep and complex, and will take the average player a while to fully understand.

What is most obvious from the start though, is how nice the game looks. The massive map is incredibly well detailed and is just beautiful to look at. Grand strategy games have a reputation for perhaps leaving the visuals somewhat under baked, but that is in no way the case with Imperator: Rome. Even the UI looks nice, albeit still quite overwhelming.

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Fans of Paradox Interactive or grand strategy games in general will know what to expect with Imperator: Rome and will be quite happy with the many hours of entertainment it will provide. The game does feel unfinished in its scope, but it really is a great starting point. For those who have never dipped their toes into the grand strategy genre, Imperator: Rome will be a baptism by fire. It can be complex and confusing, but just like Rome, mastery of Imperator: Rome will not come in a day. Pick up Imperator: Rome and make those first steps towards world domination.




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