After watching the great movie 300, for a short amount of time I set about obsessively purchasing every game / movie to do with ancient civilizations. Sad, yes... but I got some great games that I never would have played otherwise.
Praetorians was released something like 5 years ago, and it's a 3D real time strategy game based on the Roman army, that also allows you to play as other ancient civilizations such as Egyptians or good ol' rough and tumble barbarians.
I was expecting Praetorians to be a complete Age of Empires clone, but I was struck by some key differences. You can forget about micromanagement in this game, tracking your stone, gold, food and iron supplies, searching out idle villagers and sending them out to gather berries. This game is all about combat, and your resource is people.
The gameplay is fun. The focus on combat makes the game fast paced and exciting. The lack of fiddly resource management means that basically organising your troops and exploring the terrain are your top priorities. I've often found that playing games such as Age of Empires, most of my time is often spent micromanaging resources, and when I've got an army together I'll be too busy to do very much more than select it all and send it over to the enemy village.
In Praetorians, you can spend all your time sorting out your troops and making tactical decisions. Certain troops are better in certain situations, so there's almost a rock-paper-scissors dynamic going on, which means that with clever decisions you can win in situations even if you are a little bit outnumbered.
There are some pretty cool tricks too. For example, Legionnaires are able to assume the 'Turtle' formation, surrounding the unit in shields to protect against ranged attacked. Some of these tricks add an extra tactical edge, which is a nice touch.
This game came out in 2003, so of course the graphics are fairly dated. They are 3D and look quite nice, however it is impossible to rotate or tilt the camera. This means you can't really get as immersed into the action as you can in most RTS games nowadays. However, the graphics look fairly nice and run really smoothly, so if you're not bothered about the camera they do the job nicely!
Overall Praetorians is a pretty cool old RTS game. The tactical subtleties are well implemented and it's great fun to have a quick 30 minute blast of battling every now and then.
For those of you who have an interest in the ancient world; the first concept for a Praetorian gaurd started with the tent of the commanding general (praetor) of a roman army who selectively picked those of notable value who could best protect him. Over the years this cohort became the cohors praetoria, many great commanders owned one such as Mark Antony, Julius Caesar and the most greatest of all in my opinion... Augustus (Octavian). Indeed, it was Octavian who first realised that such an army would be useful in politics as well on the fields of Mars (battlefield). So from the year 27BC Octavian continously recruited notable characters of valor who could best protect him and so then on up until Constantin I (who dissolved the gaurd); every Roman Emperor had his own Praetorian gaurd.
Dissapointingly, the game Praetorians is not really about the praetorian gaurd but more about the Roman army in general. You command various troops such as auxilary, archers and spearmen; who fight honorably to the last man.
This is an incredible RTS game (real time strategy) which does not fail to add intrigue and engagement with the gamer. The game implores the gamer to use his mind cautiously, you must use your scout to search for potential enemies across the terrain or send his hawk which has the added benefit that it can see your enemies and cannot die when they attack it rather than sending in your entire army and risk unknown defeat. planning is the key in this game.
Key features - you can play with three civilisations : The Romans, celts and egyptians. I am still having a good playabout with the Romans at the minute so i dont know much about the other armies.
Gameplay : woah! very nice indeed. To make things simpler you can create hotkeys to move your army around a lot quicker, if you just rely on your mouse pressing buttons then things get pretty tight on the location where you are fighting.
When one of you squads is nearly dessicrated you can converge that group with another of the same rank such as auxilary and they will make a stronger force (fight as one). I hate games that make things too complicated that leaves only the hardcore gamers able to complete them with some ease so thankfully i was happy to learn that this RTS game has not bothered to add economics as a way of weakening your enemy which is at least one less thing to worry about.
I aint no expert gamer, in fact im pretty rubbish but it's not hard to appreciate the wonderous PC game called praetorians. The graphics are amazing for an RTS game and do not fail to impress for that genre. The sound lives up to the graphics, you hear the yells of the soldiers and the twangs of the archers (lovely).
Price - This brilliant game is absolutely cheap. I purchased this off ebay for around £2.50 (including postage and packaging) it's a no brainer, if you like the look of it for that kind of price you might as well buy it.
p.s. I study Classical Cinilisation at college if anyone has any questions about Romans or Greeks i'll try to get back to you with an answer to your question.