Roads of Rome:
Premise: General Victorius, a ruggedly dashing and talented soldier in Caesar’s army, is in love with Caesar’s daughter Julia… but Dad wants more than a soldier for his girl… so, to keep the lovers apart, he sends our hero off into the hinterlands to build roads that will connect Rome with its far territories.
Roads of Rome II
Premise: General Victorius, our ruggedly dashing and talented soldier in Caesar’s army, has won the hand of Caesar’s daughter Julia and they are now happily married, but their happiness is interrupted when Caesar is poisoned and there is no known antidote. Desperate to save Julia’s father, Victorius decides to appeal to the Roman gods, who reside on top of a mountain with no access. So, of course, Victorius and his men make a road again. There are new challenges, including an underwater realm, an eerily-realistic komodo dragon (oops… it’s a monitor lizard) and four gods to please.
Roads of Rome III
Premise: Julia and Victorius are absolutely happy awaiting the birth of their first child. However, one day a messenger arrives in Rome spreading the bad news about Barbarians that are destroying the Roman provinces. Help Victorius and his army resist the enemy and protect Rome from the forthcoming disaster.
Hints: The customized cursor seemed a bit slow and jumpy to me; clicking on Cursor in the Options at the top of the screen improved it. ~ Plan your work strategy before you click Start; the clock doesn’t start until then, and you can take all the time you need to locate your resources and decide how to reach your goals. Even if you’re not playing in challenge mode with the timer, surveying the scene ahead of time makes it less confusing when those little guys start rushing about. ~ The worker has to return to the tent between jobs, so until his head appears above the tent, you don’t have him. ~ It takes money to excavate the crystals, idols, and totems, so don’t work on them until toward the end of the level when you have lots of gold, because earlier you’ll need all your gold to remove the huge boulders. ~ The building of the road is always your primary concern, and it requires you to gather food for the workers, and stones for the pavement (which you can get from the surrounding sharply-pointed rock outcroppings as well as by building a quarry). ~ Other tasks have other requirements, and if you keep an eye on your resources the work will proceed more smoothly and swiftly.
There are two kinds of resources to gather: renewable, which you should concentrate on because they’re your major source and they won’t replenish until you’ve cleared them away (berries in the summer, as well as anything your workers produce like food, gold, lumber and stone blocks), and non-renewable, which never come back after they’re taken (berries in winter, trees, pointy rocks, totems, crystals, and gold from those little volcano-looking natural structures), which you can gather when one of your workers has nothing to do. ~ If you are out of wood and there are no more dead trees, you can take living trees. ~ The monitor lizard scares the workers and they won’t leave the tent when it’s nearby, so click on it repeatedly until it leaves. ~ By the way, I always start with two men whenever I can afford the resources, and I get more as I need them; sometimes they’ll be idle, but that’s ok because they’re still increasing everyone’s speed!
More Hints: If you play in challenge (timed) mode, you must beat the clock to earn the reward, which is getting to see the gradual creation of Roman statues; if, however, you play in relaxed (untimed) mode, you will be given that reward no matter how long it takes you to finish the round. (I must admit that the reward was more satisfying to me when I’d worked like crazy for it, strangely enough.) ~ If you choose to play against the clock and you know that you will not succeed, you can restart the level at any time via the menu ~ You can also replay a finished level to try for an expert score by clicking on a flag that isn’t red before you click to start the next round.
My Review: Along with the cute little animated workers building the roads and the eagles soaring overhead, there are also beautifully rendered pencil drawings illustrating the love story. In my opinion, the love story, though very short, enhances the enjoyment of the game. There is also the occasional jewel-toppling mini-game in which you must keep the accumulating jewels from reaching the top of the screen by clicking on clusters of 3 or more of the same color. You can skip this mini-game (Thank goodness! It’s really hard!), but if you choose to play, your reward for succeeding is the creation of a lovely jewelled necklace for Julia.
You do not need to play the first Roads of Rome first. The first half of Roads of Rome II is relatively easy and allows you to learn how to strategize to beat the clock; and, like its predecessor, it can also be played in relaxed mode. In fact, it is very much like Roads of Rome, and every bit as good. (Happily, the frustrating mini-game has been omitted.) A bonus round has been added at the end, but it doesn’t get unlocked unless you’ve beat the clock on every round in the challenge mode; impossible, if you ask me… but unless you’re a completist, 40 rounds is probably enough to satisfy.
My Recommendation: These are extremely popular games, the best in the genre, but unless you’re experienced in civilization-building time management games, I advise you to click on Change Mode at the top of the screen to remove the timer before you click on Start, because this is a extremely fast and frustrating game in timed mode. Untimed, however, they are pleasant and enjoyable games which are also an excellent introduction into the strategy, civilization-building, and time-management genres, and I highly recommend them for that reason… and for the beautiful artwork… and for the love story.
You can try them for free, here: