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Vom Sklaven zum Imperator

Rome A.D. 92 logo

Alle Wege führen nach Rom, das wissen auch die Jungs von Millennium. Und weil grüne Witwentröster hier fehl am Platze wären, dreht sich bei ihrem Nachfolger zu "Robin Hood" alles um Hector, einen Sklaven mit Drang zum Höheren...

Rome A.D. 92 Doch Rom ist weit, zumal wenn man in Herculaneum wohnt, einer Stadt am Fuße des Vesuv. Noch dazu ist diese Gegend neben Pompej eine der ungesündesten im gesamten Römischen Kaiserreich, denn was der kurz bevorstehende Vulkanausbruch alles anrichten wird, läßt sich schließlich in jedem Geschichtsbuch nachlesen. Sollte es hingegen gelingen, das nur von der See aus zugängliche Städtchen rechtzeitig zu verlassen und im Chaos der Katastrophe vorher noch schnell ein paar reiche, degenerierte Römer auszurauben, dann wäre das doch die Chance für einen karrieregeilen Sklaven wie unseren Hector! Damit ist auch schon die Aufgabenstellung des ersten der insgesamt sechs Szenarien grob umrissen; später darf der Held z.B. als Heerführer in England und Ägypten fighten oder gar in Rom um den Job des Imperators rangeln.

Wer auf Schubladen steht, sollte das Game in der für Mixturen aus Adventure und Strategie reservierten ablegen, wer sich hingegen mehr fürs Spieling interessiert, der Stelle sich eine "Populous"-Landschaft mit isometrischem Blickwinkel vor, wie sie bereits bei "Robin Hood" verwendet wurde. Hector, ein kleines, braun gewandetes Wuselmännchen mit witzigen Animationen, wird nun per Mausklick quer durch den gefällig gezeichneten und Bild für Bild mitscrollenden Villenort gescheucht. Für längere Fußmärsche läßt sich auf einer gelungenen Überblickskarte das Ziel einstellen, und schon macht sich der Bursche auf die Sandalen – ganz so, wie man das noch vom Sherwood Forest her kennt.

Trifft Hector unterwegs auf andere Männ- und Fräuleins, kann er ein (in der Verkaufsversion deutsches) Gespräch von Zaun brechen, das sich freilich auf die drei Anweisungen Grüßen, Fragen und Drohen beschränkt, woaus der Rechner dann einen passenden Satz bastelt. Herumliegende Objekte können genommen werden, falls das ständig aktualisierte Handlungsmenü so etwas erlaubt, und wer ein paar Sesterzen in der Toga hat, darf sich gar 'nen Keks kaufen – oder auch nützlichere Dinge. Die weitgehend selbsterklärenden Menüs (für die strategischen Parts gibt es ein eigenes "Steuerpult") legen dem flüchtigen Ex-Untertan jedenfalls kaum Schwierigkeiten in den Weg, und auch sonst zählt die Hectoriade wenigstens anfänglich zu den Historienschinken mit moderatem Schwierigkeitsgrad.

Zahlreiche chice Zwischengrafiken bringen optischen Pep ins Iso-Reich, dazu kommen pseudo-zeitgenössige Musikstücke und recht vielfältige Sound-FX wie Schafblöken etc.. Wenn die reine Freude aber letzten Endes doch nicht ganz porentief rein ist, dann wohl deshalb, weil man Hector alles in allem doch ein paar Handlungsmöglichkeiten mehr gewünscht hätte – aber auch so garantiert Millenniums Sklaventreiberei viel Kurzweil auf dem Weg nach Rom. (jn)

Amiga Joker, November 1992, p.32

ROME A.D. 92


Amiga Joker
512 KB

Rome A.D. 92 logo

Our very own Little Caesar, Mark Patterson, has spent a lot of time giving orders. So we decided to send him back to... Rome A.D. 92.

Life was never easy in Roman times. You had either been conquered by them, were working for them or, in Hector's case, a slave to them. Hector is a slave with ambition though. He believes the gods are smiling on him, and that he is going to go places. In fact, all the time he is actually starring in a computer game where you control his actions.

The aim, quite simply, is to help Hector climb the lengthy Roman social ladder from the position of slave, right at the bottom, to emperor at the precarious top. The first step on this pathway to success is escaping the eruption of Vesuvius, which just happens to be right next to the hamlet where he lives. This is where his break comes as he's separated from the household that owns him. Before leaving he has to collect as many items as possible which will aid him in the game's next six stages. The trick here is finding the one road that leads from the town. Do this by tracking down key characters and asking questions. To begin with you can only question or threaten people and be warned, nobody takes kindly at someone from the lower classes threatening to cut their head off. This can be a bit limiting, as nearly everyone gives you the same answer until you find the person or item they're telling you about.

If he survives eruption, Hector travels on to Rome. There he finds about a plot to kill the Emperor, and being a good citizen he decides to grass-up the conspirators. The problem here is trying to get into the Emperor's heavily guarded palace to tell him. Again, the best way to proceed is to chat to the locals who will direct Hector to colourful taverns and people who might just know a way into the Emperor's retreat.

Should he succeed in this the game really gets going. The Emperor, who believes dying is just something that happens to the plebs, is hugely grateful to Hector and rewards him with the command of his armies in Britain. Once there he has the unenviable task of subduing the Britons. The key to dominating the isle is capturing the British War Standard because they can't fight without it. The Romans also depend on their own standard, and if that falls to the Brits it's game over.

To begin with the Brits, they don't know that the Romans are coming, so Hector has a few minutes to make his plans and settle his men. The best way to proceed is by building a fort where the soldiers can rest and sharpen their pilums. It also pays to have popped into a temple in the previous stage for a bit of chat with the gods. This gives the Roman armies a slightly unfair advantage in battle, as they now fight that little bit fiercer. Once the British chieftains catch on to the fact their country is being invaded, they rally their men and attack. The game now takes on a wargame element, where you control several divisions, planning their attacks and ordering them to build or rest between skirmishes. The outcome of a battle depends on several things: the strength and number of soldiers on each side, how well rested they are and if they're attacking from a fort.

If you survive the Brits and hand the title deeds of the country over to the Emperor, he gives you plenty of cash and your own villa right in the heart of Rome. From there on it's all a matter of exploiting the Roman political system, which isn't very different from today's for that matter. Hector simply has to lie, bribe, cheat and extort his way to the top. Because of his new-found status in the city, Hector can now buy slaves of his own (including female ones) and frequent such entertainment as the Circus Maximus, which is now willing to admit him as more than a contestant.

The tactics you learned in Britain soon come into play again as Hector is assigned to deal with an uprising in Egypt. Things aren't as easy as before though, the Egyptians are a damn sight more intelligent and devious than the British, and have an unnerving ability to sneak right past the most strategically placed guards. But success here guarantees entrance to the Senate back in Rome.

Life near the top can be dangerous. Not everyone appreciates Hector's rise from serf to member of the Consul, and danger in the form of armed rivals lurk behind every door and corner. At this stage of the game the Emperor is still in power, so what's Hector to do? Wait for him to die, or perhaps speed things up a little?

Hector is a very easy character to control, although he is also very independent and occasionally gets his own ideas if you leave him too long, so he will wander off to a temple or tavern to pass the time. To move him around just click on a specific area and he'll do his best to get there. This includes walking into a lava flow when I sent him to investigate some peculiar happening at the edge of town in the first stage (his last words were 'sizzle ouch'). Communicating with other characters can be a little annoying though. Because everyone is busy leading their own lives, it is quite difficult holding their attention long enough to ask them about something. They can be stopped in their tracks by getting Hector shout at them, which gives you time to select a topic to question them about. Once that is done they immediately scarper off, usually without leaving you time to ask a follow-up question.

The scenery graphics are ace throughout the game, although some of the character graphics are very puny. There are some really great pictures and animations that crop up when you complete a task, get into trouble or die, which further add to the game's presentation. The sound is a comparative let down though, but it is passable all the same.

What makes this game really special is the humour. It is like a cross between Up Pompeii and Mel Brooks' History Of The World movie. Characters, such as the not-so-honourable senator Nintendus Gameboiis and Mafioso, the dodgy weapons vendor, crop up from time to time. There are some real corny comments in the dialogue between characters which are best swept under the mat and forgotten about. It is good fun to sit back occasionally and watch what's going on around you, such as when the volcano erupts and the entire region's population sprint past Hector screaming at him to get a move on.

Rome A.D. 92 is a very novel little game. The plot is excellent and very well executed. One of the things that makes it so playable is the cast of characters. While there are many serfs and normal, boring Joes, there are also plenty of key people who have their own idiosyncrasies. Things are a bit busy at first, but the later stages are great fun. Check this one out if you are looking for something out of the ordinary.

CU Amiga, November 1992, p.p.60-61

Rome's history was a particularly violent one when compared to other civilizations. Romulus and Remus, the empire's founders as legend would have it, had a bit of a scrap in their later years which ended with Romulus clubbing his brother to death. As we all know one of the Roman's favorite pastimes was a family trip to the circus, where you could see Kirk Douglas lookalikes performing violent acts with swords. Naturally this has been included in the game, and can play quite an important part in convincing senators to vote for Hector in his election campaign.

This game might seem a little familiar to some of you, not surprising really because it uses the same engine as Millennium's previous isometric release Robin Hood. Games such as the Lotus series from Gremlin, Archer Maclean's forthcoming pool game and some Ocean platform games also use this technique of 'borrowing' the guts from previous titles then undergoing some small cosmetic changes.

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The later stages are great fun – check it out.