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Caesar III

Third time is the charm

The point is that you see quite a nice animation of how your village is established on an individual level. This can be frustrating too if you are used to playing games such as Age of Empires where you can always control exactly what a unit does do and what it does not do. The great advantages of this is that you don't have to micromanage each unit. Something you will be very grateful for once you have 1700 people living in your city. You feel more part of the natural evolution of the city and you see the results of your discrete building of a farm or the strategic placement of gardens unfold before your eyes. Caesar III is my idea of a perfect mix between the fun of building a city and the excitement of defending it.

Events can unfold very quickly. Even as immigrants are streaming in to take advantage of new housing in what you think is a thriving city, you suddenly see long chains of carts being drawn out of the city as their houses turn into signposts. You quickly check the senate building stats by moving your cursor over it: 22% unemployment. I was setting up a nice residential section once and when I looked up, my population counter was at zero and I was just able to see my last former citizens slip off the map. Talk about a ghost town.

The Caesar III map offers much more detail. Various types of trees, naturally sinuous rivers and rocky, hilly areas where you are likely to find clay or iron ore. Can't find any? No need to worry. Just turn to the user-friendly, comprehensive help feature and it will tell you that you can go to a trade screen where you can import raw materials. You can then let your warehouse stock them, your workshops will collect them eventually, they will produce manufactured goods and you can sell back pottery and weapons to distant cities for a profit. Management of trade is a bit tricky as you must clearly indicate what to import and export and then confirm in your warehouse that these goods will be accepted. The buildings are real eye candy. From simple slovenly tents to Venetian villas. I especially like the animated fountains and the finely landscaped gardens. Although there may be only 3 or 4 types in the gardening set, it always seems like such an endless variety when placed next to the wonderfully crafted edifices.

Although 'senate control' over your burgeoning city/empire has been extended greatly, I still feel there is a lack of continuity with what you are doing on the screen and what you need to get done in the senate chambers. This was a problem in Caesar II and from the demo it would seem that this has not been completely solved in Caesar III. Of course the demo is a demo. It does not provide access to other features such as combat and fortifications and from the screen shots that follow a gaming session, I am sure that interaction between the senate and the military/city will be more than compensated for by grand battle scenes and the fun improvements in city management. Look forward to many enjoyable hours of playing this unique, captivating cross between the best of Sim City and Age of Empires.

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