The year was 1989. I was just entering tenth grade. Most of my friends were boys. They made relentless fun of the New Kids on the Block and listened to hair metal. As a result, I completely missed out on crushing on Jordan or Donnie (were those the ones people crushed on?) Instead, I wanted to have babies with Joe Perry (of Aerosmith) and my room was littered with pictures of Lita Ford and Jon Bon Jovi. I honestly don’t feel like I missed out on much.
Flash forward twenty-three years. I went to the Half-Price Books down the street and picked up a grab bag of comic books for three bucks for my boys. I’m trying to get them started right. The front showed an old Batman comic and the back revealed Ninja High School, which sounds like an awesome comic. And school. I picked the boys (who are six and nine) up from their own school and showed them the treasure. There were ten comics just waiting to be discovered inside this beautiful, and cheap, grab bag. So we cracked it open and started divvying the comics up.
Stuck between two copies of X Factor, I found this:
My kids said things like “what’s this?” and “is it cool?”
The first I could answer. New Kids on the Block were a popular boy band from the late eighties and early nineties. Mark Wahlberg’s older brother was in the band. This must have been a comic that banked on the popularity of the band.
The second question was harder. Was this a cool comic? I started thumbing threw it, trying to remember what I could about the band I barely paid any attention to. They had some songs I thought I knew and a quick google search turned up gems like Hangin’ Tough and The Right Stuff. Seriously, go watch that video, especially if you loved them when you were a kid, and tell me it’s not one of the funniest things you’ve seen today.
The comic itself has gems like “Yeah! Hang tough, and as long as you love us … We’ll be loving you forever!” and a section called “New Kids on the Rag.” I’m just not sure what they meant by that, but in that section, it says “Hey Look! It’s the new fags on the block. What a bunch of poseurs!” The comic seems to outline their rise to fame, but there’s a mocking undertone to it, so I’m not sure if it’s cool or not.
I’m putting the comic in my own collection. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the group and I can’t figure out the point of the comic, it’s still something that does make me remember my childhood. The part where I made fun of anything that was cool and popular and mainstream. Funny how things don’t change.
Were you a fan of NKotB? Were you like me, and too cool for them? Or are you eighteen years old and have no idea who New Kids on the Block are. Oh God, I’m old.
Of all the great civilizations of the past none stirs the imagination more then Rome. This small city that sits astride the Tiber rose from the obscurity of being an Etruscan imperial holding to take its place as the foremost political and military power of its era. Starting in central Italy and expanding, the Romans spread their culture and their civilization across the known world until the entire Mediterranean basin was part of their empire. But the one thing that set them apart from others was they invented concrete, which enabled them to create spectacular cities of which many still stand to this day. These great cities are the stuff dreams are made of and hold great appeal to gamers. In Glory of the Roman Empire players can build and operate these great places and pieces of the past.
Glory of the Roman Empire is a real time strategy city builder based on the historical Roman Empire, from its republican beginnings through the early Imperial period. Players take on the role as city governors and attempt to meet scenario defined victory conditions within the game in order to advance to bigger and better cities. The tools of empire are many and the concept of correct civic planning and operation will go a long way towards completing each scenario in the game.
One of the more unusual features of this game is the fact you revisit cities several times with different victory conditions, yet the cities remember the work you did in them previously. The dwellings, industry and roads you constructed are still there from your previous visits yet new challenges must be met. I did notice that things that seemed to work in the city the first time didn’t work so well during the next visit. A changing and living city is always like this and this is therefore seen in the game.
What does it take to build a city and where to start is what the tutorial will help you with. As this is a hands on learning type tutorial you will get right into the game. The first thing you will realize is that everyone in your city must eat and work or at least be cared for. If this criteria is not met industry grinds to a halt and unhappiness will lead to riots and revolts which will be costly in time and treasure to deal with.
The next thing you will realize is every building requires raw materials and someone to do the work. This game uses the realistic method the Romans themselves relied on which is slaves. Slaves are the core of your work force as they do the construction and hauling of both raw materials and finished products. If you don’t have enough slaves things won’t get done and the economy will stagnate and your city will fall to ruin. Having slaves in a game may seem rather politically incorrect and controversial, yet this is exactly how the Romans operated, they relied extensively on slave labor and to exclude them on the grounds of modern morality would not provide for a realistic game about ancient Rome.
Your city begins with a government center which also doubles as a clearing house for slaves. The next thing you need is a roman labor force to carry out non-slave work and these people need housing so building dwellings is the order of the day. You start with basic housing but this can be upgraded during the game when certain other buildings are built within its radius. The radius or influence of a structure can be seen by clicking on the particular building. This becomes important as you need to fit several types of buildings near one another to ease happiness concerns and increase productivity.
The types of buildings available at first are limited by the scenario you are playing. As you move through the game more advanced types of buildings and more industries appear. Industries are the basic services and items your city needs to operate. All of your buildings also need slaves to bring wood, stone and marble to buildings for standard upkeep or those buildings will catch fire and possibly burn down.
You must keep careful watch on how many slaves you have and how busy they are. If your slaves are being worked too hard they won’t build structures far from the city nor will they bring the required upkeep materials. They won’t even collect food and wood if they are being pushed too heavily. The only way to lighten their burden is to purchase more of them. The problem is slaves cost gold and in some scenarios gold is either hard to come by or completely unavailable. Normally you can mine for gold or trade for it, but not always.
As one would expect you have to build temples for the people’s religious well-being and happiness. You will have to set up buildings to collect wood as well as build fishing villages and mines for marble stone and gold. All of these places require workers and the workers cannot live too far away or they won’t take the jobs you have available. You can see the available jobs and unemployment at the government center. Some jobs can only be done by men while others can be done by women, so keep this in mind when you are constructing new businesses.
Your people will need cloth, so they will need flax to make it, and they will want wine so you must have grapes, and they must eat so wheat fields will have to be constructed. You can also build taverns which make the people happy and double as places to pick up gossip about how your citizens feel about their lives and what they may want you to build in their towns. Knowing the mood and wants of the people will go a long way towards building successful cities.
The look of this game is simply fabulous. I have played Caesar 4, the other new Roman city builder, and this game absolutely looks better then that one. There are day and night intervals and people go about their lives within the city. You will even see flocks of birds fly through the towns at any given time. It even rains from time to time, making the landscape look quite interesting. The controls for this game are very easy to use and the camera is quite good, you can get close and it doesn’t move too much. The mini map is a little tricky and takes some getting used too.
The voice acting could be a little better, but it’s not so bad that it detracts from the game in any way. The narrator has a noticeable Italian accent, which is an interesting contrast to Caesar 4, which uses actors with English accents. Overall I found the game a lot of fun and really easy to learn and play, and it moves along quickly enough so that you are not bored waiting for materials but can be busy building and designing the towns. Definitely worth getting.
Today CDV has launched the official Web site for their upcoming Roman-themed city building game, Glory of the Roman Empire. Visitors to the site will be treated to a variety of information about the game, including key features, screenshots and renders.
Glory of the Roman Empire is an empire-building simulation set during the height of the glorious Roman Empire. In the game, the player assumes the roles of city planner, governor and military leader. Successful players will need planning skills, economic savvy and — should those fail — military might. Glory of the Roman Empire will challenge gamers to grow a small village into a thriving community through trade with neighbors, while also expanding and defending its borders through more militaristic means. Players will need to focus on the physical and emotional health of the citizenry, as villagers age and mature under strong leadership, contributing to the development of more advanced societies and larger cities.