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Romanes Eunt Domus? People called Romanes, they go the house? Nope. People called Amiga-owners, they build the houses. They also build the roads, the aqueducts and provide the education, the sanitation and keep the peace...

Everybody loves a fairy tales ending, but for Impressions, Caesar could well be the fairy tale beginning. After years of struggling to make an impression on the games world, this independent software house has finally come of age. Five minutes with Caesar will tell you, that you have to have this game. Once you have got it home, you can kiss the world goodbye. Five minutes' play soon turns into five hours, then five days - and still it is impossible to tear yourself away.

Caesar is very much a mixture of games: there is a hearty chunk of Sim City-style construction work, except that everything has a gorgeous Roman flavour. There is a lump of Populous too, thanks to the different people who wander about the finely-paved streets that you build. There is even a bit of Railroad Tycoon-style mapwork to be done, linking up distant towns and villages to your Roman sim city. There is almost as much history and economics as in Civilization, with more detailed graphics. And, to cap it all, Caesar has wargaming action of the kind your find in many an SSI game, except that it is a lot better.

Because there is such a mixture, you would expect Caesar to be quite a bewildering game, but nothing could be further from the truth. It functions on three levels: The European map, the Provincial map, and the City map. The Emperor randomly chooses the European country that you are given control of, and that dictates what your Provincial map looks like. Each province has a capital city with its own map and that is where you start building.

Rome sweet Rome
Moving around between the different levels is dead easy, and once you have zoomed in to City level you can begin creating your city. To start with, it is jut a bunch of fields and rivers, so your first move is to build a Forum.

To the Romans, the Forum was everything. Their advanced civilization depended on places where they could go and speak their minds, exchange ideas and generally chip in to the running of their society. In Caesar, the Forum is the centerpiece of the city. Houses are laid out around it, or are connected to it by roads. Soon the buildings near the Forum soar in value and better buildings replace the humble tents you pitched to begin with.

But before anything gets started properly, you need to address the basic need for ware. Fountains have to be installed and connected via pipes from the nearest river. If there is no water, no-one will move in and your city will never gro. It is a bit like the problem of electric power in Sim City, only it is not as easy to supply a whole city with one pipe. You really need to incorporate the water supply into your city design or you will get hopelessly tangled and the fountains will stop gurging and dry up.

Once you have established a foothold, you have got to make your city grow and prosper. There are plenty of things to help attract new residents, like temples and amphitheatres. But there are also plenty of things you need to manage carefully, like security from invasion, dissatisfied subjects who riot and tear down houses, and the business of collecting taxes. It is a never-ending job.

Meanwhile, as you are learning how to cope with Roman city life, things are happening in the rest of the province. Barbarians are sure to pay a visit or twelve, and they can make life very awkward, especially if they make it all the way to your city. This is where your legions of soldiers come to the fore. On the Provincial map, you can move legions around, engaging in battles, patrolling trouble spots and establishing new forts and strongholds. The battles are fairly simple affairs, with a choice of five combat formations. There is even an option to resolve individual battles using Impressions' earlier game Cohort 2. This gives the wargaming purist a chance to get all the detail, while keeping things simple for the player who is more interested in city-building. Because Cohort 2 is already available you do not have to wait six months for an expansion, like most other sim-games with addons.

Aside from the city-building and fighting, there are still more things to be done. Controlling your population is done via the Forum screen where you can consult each of your main advisors for statistical data, which is beautifully presented in Roman-pillar style bar charts. Everything a good leader needs to know to run a city is tucked away in easily accessible maps and screens.

It is easy to get carried away with Caesar, because it really is a great game. It is certainly the best of the sim bunch, and it is a pretty good wargame too. It never seems to stop, either. Once you have got a province under control and everything is on the up and up, the Emperor pops over to offer you promotion.

You can decline this offer, choosing instead to stay for another 10 or 25 years if you have become particularly attached to your new home. If you take the promotion, you start all over again in a different part of Europe with a lump sum for building a new city plus a salary increase. After many years (in real terms, a good few weeks of play) you can make it to Emperor yourself, and then play the whole thing again.

Now that Impressions have proved what they are capable of, let us hope we see more games of the exceptionally high quality of Caesar, and I for one cannot wait to get started all over again.


Beyond the city lies a whole province waiting to be subjugated and exploited. The real Romans were great at this game, bringing civilization and security to the people of outlying villages, but still making heaps of cash out of them. The population soon warmed to the Romans' high standard of living and strong fortifications. Only a few tribes of die-hard barbarians really resisted, but they often made quite a mess of the Roman cities when they got through. Both Rome and Londinium were sacked by barbarian horedes during the Roman era.

In Caesar as leader of the province your task is to keep out the barbarians and bring extended civilization to the area. You do this on the Provincial level map, where you find your capital city (the one you have been landscaping) and a few far-flung villages. Barbarians regularly nip across the borders for a bit of rape and pillage, and you have got to stop them. You can build huge walls and towers (like Hadrian did) and post Legions in trouble spots to protect the locals. The most effective way of securing your future is to build roads from your provincial capital to each of the outlying towns. Once connected, the towns increase in size and help boos the level of trade back at your capital. If you can keep the peace, and expand your road network throughout the province, you are well on your way to a promotion the next time the Emperor visits.


Roman-style cities are the central features of the newly-conquered Provinces and, as such, they are opulent cultural havens where the rich live and the poor work. But the inhabitatnts are a pernickety bunch and they need a lot of amentities before they will move in - not least of which is housing. Roman houses come in all shapes and sizes, but they all start as tents. Only improving land values can turn a tatty tent into a vibrant villa, and you won't help matters by forgetting to pipe in the water. Other factors like nearby industry and business can drop a suburb's value, but they are necessary evils. If there is nowhere to work, no-one will move in. Here is a full list of the buildings you can use for your cities:

You can build better houses, but you have to start with tents.

Temple: these grow in size with the local population.
Oracle: vital for the spiritual peace-of-mind of your people.

Forum: there are eight different types, each one claiming taxes from a specific area of the city.
Prefectory: the local cops help to collect taxes and keep the peace.

Marketplace: vital for trade, and therefore for prosperity.
Heavy industry: you need this to supply other businesses.
Businesses: they offer work to locals and sustain the economy by selling all manner of taxable goods to provincial towns.

Water reservoir: before you can hook pipes up to the river, you need one of these.
Fountain: these supply the all-important water to the population.
Bath-house: they were a clean lot, the Romans. Without a nearby bath-house, they soon decide and place stinks, and leave.
Well: if there is a dry zone, and no river nearby, a well will provide water for a few houses

The Romans hated walking across the mud, especially when returning from the baths, so roads are the second-most important element of the city.
Plaza: to really raise the value of your town, pave some of the roads with high-quality slabs.

Theatre: they came, they saw, they did a little clapping. Turn your dead-end alleys into cheerful cul-de-sacs with these.
Amphitheatre: bigger, better theatres, where gladiatorial combat is the main event.
Hippodrome: for the top in spectator sports, you cannot beat a bit of chariot racing at the Hippodrome.

Barracks: grubby soldiers may annoy the locals, but they beat the hell out of rioters and barbarians.
Wall: Hadrian's wall is nothing compared to the stonework defences you can build.
Tower: if your wall keeps falling down, strengthen it with a tower.

School: what have the Romans ever done for us, apart from introduce education?
Hospital: butchers by our standards, but to the Romans they were better than the NHS.

Veni, vidi, vici?

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Der Feldherr und Imperator mit dem markanten Näschen als Aushängeschild eines neuen Strategicals von Impressions - das kann doch nur ein militärischer Sandkasten à la "Cohort" und Konsorten sein, oder?

Überraschung: Es ist ein frecher "Sim City"-Klon! Der einzig nennenswerte Unterschied besteht in der antiken Verpackung, laut der man hier angeblich eine Provinz des Römischen Reichs regiert - wozu vor allem der Bau und die Verwaltung von ein, zwei Städtchen gehören...

Mit einem je nach Schwierigkeitsgrad unterschiedlich hohen Startkapital ausgerüstet, verlegt man Wasserleitungen, pflastert Straßen, errichtet einen Marktplatz, Wohnhäuser und Handwerksbetriebe. Kasernen für Soldaten dürfen auch nicht fehlen, denn für das Ansteigen der "Kriminalitätsrate" sind hier aus historischen Gründen wilde Barbaren-Stämme zuständig.

Die Aufgaben der Feuerwehr, des Straßenbaus, etc. werden von Sklaven wahrgenommen, die natürlich aus dem Staatssäckel bezahlt werden wollen. Außerdem gibt es Statistiken (Steuern, Bodenwert...) und eine elfstufige Karriere-Leiter, deren Erklimmungs-Tempo vor-demokratischerweise von der Gunst des Imperators im Fernen Rom abhängt.

Die Steuerung per Maus und Icons klappt tadellos, weil sie praktisch 1:1 vom "Original" übernommen wurde. Dagegen enttäuscht die Grafik durch eine fade, überwiegend hell-braune Farbgestaltung und dürftige Animationen, lediglich das flinke Scrolling verbessert den Gesamteindruck wieder leicht.

Die Effekte sind mit Oropax gerade noch erträglich, aber den Musikus sollte man nun wirklich den Löwen in der Arena zum Fraß vorwerfen. Und das Spiel? Für eingefleischte SIMulanten überlegenswert, für Kuriositäten-Sammler geradezu ein Muß... (mm)

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The Roman Empire is back into fashion. We'll all be eating lying down before you know it.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. If you want Sim City with a few more barbarians, then Caesar's definitely your game.
"Infamy, infamy! They've all got in in for me!" as Emperor Kenneth Williams said in Carry on Cleo. And that's the feeling you get in Ceasar.

There you are, a Decurian with your heart in the right place, trying to make the best of this province circa 5 BC you've been given by the Emperor, and hoping one day to rise through the ranks, and perhaps become Emperor yourself. But everyone seems intent on making life hard. If it ain't the barbarians attacking your cities, then your own citizens are rioting. It's a hard life.

Caesar is a bit like Sim City. Actually, Caesar is a lot like Sim City, but with a bit more to think about. There are two levels of play that you have to care of simultaneously - city and provincial. You start with a large area of scrubland, which you have to turn into a thriving, happy, prosperous province. If you please the Emperor, you get a promotion, and a new, more important province to govern.

The city level - which is viewed in close-up and you have to scroll around - is most like Sim City. Here you have to build cities, making sure that all the elements that going into making life bearable for your citizens have been included - housing, water, employment, culture, education, an administrative centre (the forum), law enforcement and roads (good communication is essential). You start with a capital, then branch out, using roads, to make other towns. If you plan well, then the cities will grow and expand of their own accord, as their good reputation gradually attracts a larger population.

More icons than a book on '60s pop stars

You also have to keep an eye on the political side of things. All this construction takes money. There's the upkeep of the army to think about and you have to pay the Emperor an annual tribute. So you need to raise taxes. All these maters can be dealt with by visiting the forum where you have a number of advisers. But beware, if you make life too hard for your citizens, or you let your cities fall into disrepair by bad slave management, there will be inner city riots and large areas will be devastated.

The provincial level deals with the military side of things. Here you get an overall view of your province, and you can see where the marauding barbarians are. You have to build up your armies, again by going to the forum and dealing with your military adviser. You also have to deploy troops and issue commands, deciding which tactics they should use. The actual battles take place off-screen and you just get to see the results but if you have Impressions' Cohort 2 you can actually play out the battles in that game.

Caesar has more icons than a book on sixties pop stars and you spend a lot of the time clicking like a grasshopper during the mating season as you access various menu bars. But then, considering the complexity of the game, it's hard to see how they could be made much better, though they might put some players off.

If you like strategy games, it's well worth checking out. Having to deal with two levels of play is intriguing twist, and the graphics are quite jolly in a Populous-like way (i.e. lots of little animated figures). While the challenge is greater than with Sim City, the game is also less easy to get into, and not as instantly appealing - if you make a mistake it's virtually impossible to rectify it.

You have to get your planning right from the start, but the effort is repaid. You might start off with your cities crumbling, but you have just have to have one more go, because you figure you've worked out what you did wrong the last time.

  1. The Administrative Adviser - keeps track of your prosperity, of how contented your people are, and of your relative importance within the Empire.
  2. The Slave Foreman - Use him to recruit more slaves, and then designate how many slaves should be assigned to various maintenance tasks.
  3. The treasurer- deals with the economy. You can command him to raise or lower taxes. Unlike today, if the economy goes up the creek, you get the blame.
  4. The Financial Analyst - tells you how your economy has been doing over the last few years.
  5. The Military Adviser - keeps track of the army. He can raise wages or conscription to make the army grow.
  6. The Political Adviser - You can order him to raise your pesonal salary or donate funds to the City (to raise your popularity stakes).

Caesar logo

Impressions £25.99

It's the first century BC and you get to play the part of an ambitious brown-nosing public figure eager to grease up to Caesar Augustus, the current Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Your main aim is to run your allotted province as efficiently as possible and thus gain Caesar's favour.

In effect, this means building and maintaining the essential infrastructure of the country, such as housing, the water-supply and transport links.

Whilst creating and developing your part of the Empire, you are constantly under threat from tribes of barbarians who will attack the city to take advantage of its resources. So building up your city's defenses should also be high on your list of priorities.

As you can see, Caesar offers a good mix of gaming skills. Be careful, though, as if you expect too much from your people and drive them too hard, they'll rebel and oust you from your favoured position of power. To keep them happy, you have to ensure that your province is well defended, prosperous, and law abiding. And believe me, that's a tough task.

If you govern the province successfully your game rating will increase and Imperial favours will dished out. Progression and promotion involves being placed in charge of a new, and more complicated, province. The overall objective is to gain enough success to overthrow Caesar and become Emperor yourself.

Caesar holds its own when compared to other god-type games. The graphics are extremely detailed, even down to little members of the public roaming the streets. The sound effects and music are very atmospheric and the point 'n' click control system is easy to use with little need to consult the manual.

Avid god-sim players will find Caesar a welcome addition to their collection. The depth of gameplay and sheer number of possibilities offer a great challenge whilst it is also tremendous fun. New players eager to experience a god-sim for the first time, could well find Caesar to their liking. It is certainly no Sim City or Populous 2, but it does have a certain historic appeal.

Caesar... ...Deluxe logo Amiga Format Gold

Ave! A funny thing happens on the way to the forum as it emerges that Impressions' already excellent Roman sim is now upgraded...

Creating a sequel is a difficult task, particularly if the game you are trying to enhance is a classic in its own right. Caesar had everyone donning a toga and plumed helmet, prancing about in front of their Amigas with delight (well, we did). Perhaps it is a good thing, then, that Caesar Deluxe has been designed to tweak and complement aspects of the original rather than introduce drastic changes.

Civia Romanus Sum
If you attach no significance to the name Sim City then you have truly missed a classic - a rigorous test of urban planning and development. Caesar was a clone of that landmark production. Nevertheless, it received the coveted Format Gold award thanks to added dimensions of defence and conquest and its cute little houses.

The object of Caesar is to help the empire by establishing a city within the province over which you have jurisdiction. Building the city is difficult because you must monitor many aspects of its development, but your ability as a governor are represented by the four pillars of Roman civilisation: Peace, Culture, Prosperity and Empire.

Increasing each of these is hard, but the difficulty of juggling several problems at once is what makes Caesar fascinating. The state of the first three aspects can be improved by building defensive walls, creating more amenities for your citizens, increasing industrial output and so on. Your imperialist abilities, on the other hand, are gauged according to your city's expansion on a provincial level and a new feature allows you to create Imperial Highways which connect your city to other provinces as well as other towns.

This makes Caesar Deluxe even bigger than its predecessor. Just remember, though, that you will also have marauding barbarians pounding at your gates and other disasters to cope with, so preparation for the worst is essential. A catastrophe can have repercussions which shatter the city, but desperately taking steps to save it is just as enjoyable as watching it grow.

Dulce et decorum est...
In order to develop the city you must monitor its progress and this is done with the help of several advisors who are found at the forum. Here, the changes rung by Caesar Deluxe really begin to show with the addition of another counsellor to your merry band. He joins the existing oracles of fiscal and social information as a sort of Department of Trade and Industry inspector (BC), offering advice on industrial expansion in your province.

An odd change to the game is that slaved are now called 'plebs'. Other enhancements in the game are mainly designed to add to the fluidity of play, and include a rearrangement of the main icons ad the addition of a viewfinder to the main, bird's eye view window. There is also a panel that explains icons as you slide your mouse-pointer over them frantically while the city burns to the ground. The new control system only fractionally improves the whole arrangement, but it was already excellent in the first place.

Overall, the game has been polished in all respects, right down to packaging and documentation, but do not expect this to be a sequel. Impressions have almost achieved a version that is genuinely 'Deluxe', but you have to ask yourself whether it is worth paying £14.99 for a what is only a very slight upgrade.

Caesar remains a classic and if you do not have the original invest in this. However, with the impending release of Sim City 2000, a new empire is about to be founded.

Caesar... ...Deluxe logo

What's this? A football team from Italy?

Populous and Sim City were the stepping stones for god sims as we perceive them today, but where Populous has been surpassed so thoroughly by its spin-offs and its follow-up that these days a game on the original probably feels a little crude, the evolution of Sim City was not so successful. We tried Sim-ing the Earth, Ants and Life itself, but these games where both too ambitious and unrelated to our own perceptions, so we still liked Sim City best.

Hungry enthusiasts were more likely to fee their megalomaniac brains with A-Train (or the previous similar Railroad Tycoon), seeking power through railways, but there was no other choice than that - until Impressions' Roman variation, Caesar.

But just how would you explain the appeal of a good god sim to aliens? Th answer is of course you wouldn't - you'd run away shouting "Aarrrgh - aliens!" Only when you were safe in bed would you think maybe it's the power, maybe it's the creativity or, as I reckon, maybe it's the way the better you do, the more problems you create.

Here in Caesar Deluxe, for example, building a forum, linking in a water supply, sticking in a few roads, maybe a baths or two and encouraging some settler is no problem. Thought must then go into improving conditions for your plebeians, introducing amenities, business and entertainment.

Watch where you put things - land values will rise if housing is placed next to a market or temple, but plebs will object to living near a factory (yet markets, factories and workshops must be in close proximity). City walls, tax collectors and barracks must also be introduced, not forgetting that taxes are automatically collected form houses near the forum and citizens will dislike living near the army. Searching for this sort of information, I'll bet, will be your first reason to consult the Big Boys' Instructions and bin the considerably thinner Tutorial pamphlet that you probably convinced yourself you'd be able to get away with instead.

"I always wished Sim City had more 'game' to it; Caesar has that!" quotes the back of the box, to which I'd have to agree - but rather less enthusiastically, because the 'added game' seems to be a more-than-coincidental hint of Populous. The colour scheme? The little men who walk around to show activity? The city walls, towers and forts? It might just be me, but especially in the battle scenes, it does look very reminiscent of a kind of Populous 'from above'.

The better you do, the more problems you create

So what of it? Aside from a strangely wobbly cursor and fairly rudimentary graphics, there is little to fault in Caesar Deluxe - apart from criticising its very existence. We've established, that, great as it was, Sim City was a bit of a dead end for nicking ideas from. You can't simulate anything more complicated than a city (it gets too complicated - or too boring), so simulating cities in other time zones seems the only option. And in this case, those without a special fondness for the Roman Empire are likely to prefer the present day, which (insert vicious circle here) has already been done.

Perhaps the fantasy approach of the mythical Populous or the futuristic Syndicate is the answer? Anyway, I always preferred the straight win-or-lose aspect of Populous and Mega-lo-mania to the play-until-you-give-up style play found here.

Caesar Deluxe tries hard, but it is unlikely to win any prizes for its efforts 20 minutes later. You might also like to spend another £29.99 on Impressions' Cohort 2 to use in conjunction with Caesar to act out all the battles. This is interesting, if a little expensive, but probably isn't everybody's overall cup of tea.