Reviewed: October 9, 2006
Released: September 26, 2006
Tilted Mill and Sierra have released Caesar IV in its retail version and after my preview just a few short weeks ago it was nice to see the final version in all its glory. It has been awhile since the previous installment in the Caesar line but the latest version is well worth it and a very good city builder. A few bugs marred my review of this unsurprising game but the team at Tilted Mill are working with fans to fix the problems.
Here are some of the features of Caesar IV:
Caesar IV is a very good-looking city builder set in the Roman Empire that lets you build cities as a governor of Rome. You have to place all the parts of your city inside the area of land given and include everything a city needs; roads, housing, farming, entertainment, schooling, religious shrines and city services such as water and city protection.
There are things like trade and protection in the form of Armies that require a little more than just placing the designated building. Trading and armies require management like what and how much to trade or training your soldiers.
There are three main sections of the game; scenarios, campaign and Caesar IV online. The scenarios are games you play that are standalone type city building from the campaign you have already played or ones you create or download from the Internet. The campaign is a series of games set up to be increasingly more difficult in your governor career. Caesar IV online has a section that allows you to play set games on the Internet and post results for others to view. There is also an open-ended or sandbox mode that allows you to continually build onto your city and expand your own empire alongside other enterprising city builders.
With such a large variety of buildings and all the interwoven necessities of city services the tutorial is a must when it comes to playing the game if youíre new to city builders. Getting things like city services and basic needs placed so they cover all the needed homes and buildings are important. Getting everything balanced out is hard work and you have plenty of help in your advisors but it can still be difficult.
Caesar IV comes with a tutorial called the Kingdom, it starts you off with basic placement of buildings and teaches many aspects of city building. There are two sections of the career mode that go from simple city building with low goals to higher goals and other difficulties thrown in such as invaders or smaller land to start with. The second half of the campaign opens up after you complete the first and lets you try your hand at more difficult goals with changes from the basic campaign like lots more resources or more difficult terrain.
With the usual placement of buildings, roads, crop and pasture fields this city builder does not have any huge surprises in its gameplay. Using the mouse for placement and tilting the camera while using some keyboard commands for some basic functions you have little to worry about in the area of how you get things done. Planning, placement and getting everything to work in harmony is the hardest part of this game and the most enjoyable.
One of the biggest disappointments for me about Caesar IV was the bugs that still have not been ironed out in the final version. During gameplay you need to trade with other cities and for some the game will freeze or lockup while trying to. There are a lot of people on the forum having this same problem and a fix should be forthcoming but until then there is a work around for it. There are a few other bugs that I am sure will get fixes but it takes away from the game when you do have them. Other than some of the bugs Caesar IV would have been an excellent game.
A lot of attention in the development of Caesar IV was put into the great looking graphics and some great features like all the little animations of the characters along with all the sayings the people have when you click on them. You can zoom out to see and place your city buildings or zoom in to get some great shots of individual buildings or areas of your metropolis.
The animations work extremely well with some great effects when sudden occurrences happen like storms or wrath of Jupiter occurrences. I really enjoy how during a storm the people bustle around that much faster and ones not carrying anything in their arms will cover their heads from the rain.
The one event that looks very good but you donít really want to see is the wrath of Jupiter when you donít have enough shrines in your city. The area goes blindingly white for several buildings and then lightning comes from the sky to decimate the one or a couple of buildings. Then watching your city service people in charge of putting out fires, if you remembered any, come rushing in to save the building.
There are settings for best performance or quality graphics as well as custom controls for your video with things like resolution, details and anti-aliasing. The graphics are pretty good and if you have a better computer you can get some very good looking graphics. If you donít have such a fantastic system you may have to sacrifice graphics for performance.
Caesar IV has some quality sounding music that is fitting to the Roman theme with background noise like birds chirping in the empty spaces and the usual hustle and bustle of city life in urban areas. The voice acting in all the sections like the tutorial, the advisors and the individuals that are your citizens all sound good and are well acted. Clicking on individuals will bring up a quick narration that tells what the person is doing in a sometimes humorous way. When arriving into the city upon moving in they often tell of their hopes for a good life or how difficult it was to move here. Other quotes are about their daily lives or what they are doing at the moment but they are quite varied, looking in the audio file there are over 830 different sayings.
In the audio settings there is a section to turn on and off the ambient, building and speech sounds. There are slider bars for the volume of the music, sound effects and speech in the game as well as a performance versus best audio quality adjustment.
Caesar IV has a lot going for it when it comes to hours of gameplay. Your campaign mode has fourteen different cities to build with ever increasing difficulties. There is also a sandbox mode that allows you to continue building your city with no goals attached to the game.
The Caesar IV online game has you building available goal oriented scenarios online and then your results are displayed for the community to view. The other online portion is a builder that allows you to continually keep building and saving your city online for others to view and admire. There are single players that are going strong with groups of their own cities with a total population of over 60,000.
Caesar IV also comes with a tools section that lets you upload scenarios others have built and you can play as well as the editor to build your own and let others play. The editor allows simple changes to an already finished scenario that the game comes with or building your own from scratch. Caesar IV will keep avid city builders busy for many hours as a governor of Rome building and refining your cities with the finale of all this in building Rome itself.
Caesar IV has some awe-inspiring graphics with really easy to use controls and is an overall well constructed city builder. Due to some bugs that were in the final release I could not give the gameplay a better score. There are developers working with the community to fix problems with the game at Tilted Mill so I am sure fixes will be forthcoming.
Overall Caesar IV is a very good and fun city builder with loads of value in all the different play modes. With the recent rush of city builders coming out Caesar IV is the best that I have played and by far the best looking with its quality graphics.