Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Caesar

I played Caesar 3 for the first time in 1998. I was only 10 then, so my cities turned out terrible and I got stuck halfway into the campaign. My concept of layout was poor and I didn't understand or was unaware of some key mechanics. But a classmate, Mike, managed to torrent download it last week, and it really didn't take longer than a few hours for the game to get me completely hooked on. I'm currently working on the "Consul" stage; each campaign level is titled by a rank in ancient Rome.

Citizen, Clerk, Engineer, Architect, Quaestor, Procurator, Aedile, Praetor, Consul, Proconsul, Caesar

It's not surprising that Caesar 3 is an award-winning RTS by Impressions/Sierra Studios. Very rarely do you find single-player RTS challenging, fun, addictive and most importantly, balanced. I have not fully 'cracked the code' of its greatness, although I do have some glimpses.

Unlike SimCity, Caesar 3 (and the other Caesar versions) has a historic beauty embedded into its narrative. You get to build cities like Damascus and Valentia. Yesterday, I watched "Hannibal", a documentary on Discovery that depicts the life of Carthaginian general Hannibal Barker. I could identify most of the terms, locations and events presented in the documentary. Caesar 3 uses Hannibal as one of the antagonists as well, so this entire saga is starting to sink into my head. I like how most of the graphics in Caesar 3 are 2D, but are made to look realistic and three-dimensional due to a static camera angle. You could rotate the camera 90degrees NSEW but the buildings will also turn with the camera. The developers save a shitload of rendering time and diskspace with that. The citizens however are 3d animated models.

Each campaign level has a 'Promotional' (to get the next level) requirement that involves your city's Ratings. These Ratings include Culture, Prosperity, Peace and Favor. Population size is also a mandatory requirement for each stage. Of course, the higher the level you are, the more demanding the requirements become, and this makes life very difficulty for the governor indeed.

I got stuck at the Procurator stage for up to 16 hours because I could not get the Prosperity rate required. It was ridiculous. I nearly wanted to use a cheat to bypass the stage but that doesn't teach me anything. Indeed, I finally found the problem. I previously refused to import wine from a neighbouring city which would have upgraded my Large Insulaes into Villas. I also trimmed off the edges of my city which had problems receiving Food stocks. The stage was meant to test a governor's ability to transfer food supplies from the native area to far parts of the city. And I figured out how to by forming a series of granaries and then specifically getting each one to Get goods from the other. I was also playing on 100% speed, which is like double the speed from 90% (default). After a while I saw my ratings starting to climb. What happened is that when houses turn into Villas, their occupants become "Patricians", which is the elite class. They do not work and I suffered heavy employment issues thereafter. Due to that, my 'Culture' rating fell because I did not have enough workers operating schools, libraries, theatres etc. So I had to literally maximize space within my boundaries and pump up on Plebians (working class). This taught me a lot.

I completed the Praetor and Aedile stages with a breeze. Each took 5 hours on average which was great. I also managed to build a Hippodrome that was in working condition.

A Hippodrome

Governor's Palace and Large Villas

4 comments:

Julzy said...

dude its an absolutely fantastic game and i loved it, But i can't seem to get back into it now after all these years. Maybe because you can't alt tab in it -_-;

Great game tho, spent many many hours on it back in the early 00's

Leon said...

Yeh no alt tabbing hurts :[ Can't talk to julz like that!

Julzy said...

T_T huh. I need a new game to play.

Leon said...

I might try to get SimTower and Worms 2. Can always wait for Warhammer, I got an account :p