In a room, on a wooden table, lies a map. A map representing early Europe, stretching as far north as Britannia and as far south as the edge of Tarraconesis (what is now North East Spain) and the northern edge of the Roman Empire, Italy. The maps’ main focus is Gallia or Lugdunensis, Belgica, Narbonensis, Aquitania and the smaller of the Germanic lands, Germania inferior and superior.
With a flick of the rolling middle mouse button, I zoom immediately into the map, bringing tuffs of grass into full-view. I can hear the babbling waters of a nearby river and the wind.
Moving myself around, I notice the bark on trees and admire their dangling branches and leaves as they cast shadows over the ground in which they grow.
I move around and find my first people of the land. They are still, motionless statues hovering over their tasks like patrons of the earth. These farmers are poised, ready to begin their chores once I start time rolling again. I gently press the space bar and with a solitary beat of a drum the farmers begin hoeing and preparing their lands, picking fruit and wiping sweat from their brows.
I watch them as I continue to move around their position. In this moment I feel calm and tranquil, interested in their activity. I glide around them in a circular motion so I can better see what they are doing from a new vantage point. I’m actually mesmerised as I take in the detail, yet suddenly remember I have a task to do. It’s not staring at the farm folk. I’ve important business to attend to, I’ve Helvetii to bring to order. Gauls, lots and lots of Gauls.
I check on my tasks to understand what I must do next and scour my objectives intently. It appears a small band of the Gauls are rampaging through my territory while they attempt to migrate elsewhere. They terrorize my people, so I quickly set to work to destroy them and make them pay for their crimes against Rome
To make the best use of the map and improve the information available, I have to discover the many towns and cities that litter the countryside. It is here after dispatching my troops to march south, I realize the size and scope of my surroundings. The area I’ve sworn to bring to heel is huge, with many foes and risks to overcome. There is lots to do. I best get to work.
Ever educational, video games have the ability to throw you deeply into exciting areas of historym allowing you to experience life from different aspects. Hegemony Rome Rise of Cesar, the sequel to Hegemony Gold Wars of Ancient Greece, is no exception. The aim? Plotting Julius Cesar’s decade long struggle against the Gauls. A period of history where my own knowledge was completely founded by reading Asterix the Gaul and my general Roman outlook built upon by playing the likes of Rome Total War and watching the TV series Spartacus.
Hegemony Rome Rise of Caesar features a good many things indeed and its attention to detail at each level – whether it’s from the map level or closest to the ground level – is incredible. While it does feel intuitive, some things feel a little like window dressing at the moment while the game remains in Beta, My concern is that these wont be fully realized in the completed version. There are also some issues surrounding way-points when commanding units. As a result, AI can prove a little skittish at times. These issues are familiar in this style of game and even the RTS heavyweights, Creative Assembly, and their Total war series, suffer such things. Longbow Games appear to be on the ball with handling the issues and if their release notes and forums are correct, they are indeed working on fixes already.
Currently available in early access via steam for £19.98, you are now able to play all four chapters that they have planned. Just introduced into the current version is the first glimpse of the sandbox mode that will allow you to play as one of around twenty different factions. Once completed, Longbow Games plan to include more mission objectives per chapter, more voice recordings and support different languages too.
Hegemony Rome has an air of the complexities thrown at you in the Total War series or perhaps the Civilization series, mixed with the immediacy of the Command and Conquer series. I’m interested to see how Hegemony Rome Rise of Caesar will turn out as an end-product as its clear Longbow Games are already onto a good thing with the work done so far. Longbow Games are reacting to feedback and constantly polishing Hegemony Rome Rise of Caesar. However, they are not willing to rest on their laurels (sorry) because they are hard at work on additional elements that will complete the game later this year.
It is exciting to see a developer being so passionate about continuous improvement and they do not seem flustered or blinkered in their approach to completion. I feel confident they will iron out the little creases that occur presently in the Beta and I look forward to what they have in store with great interest.