Rome wasn't built in a day, but it can be built up over the course of a single-player campaign in CivCity Rome, the upcoming strategy game from Firefly Studios and Firaxis Games (the developers of the Stronghold series and the Civilization series, respectively). Though the game won't offer any multiplayer modes, it will have a full-on campaign, as well as a good number of one-off scenarios (including an open-ended scenario that starts you out with lots of open land and lots of funds, which will basically be the game's free-form sandbox construction mode).
The strategy behind the game will focus on building up the best, happiest, and wealthiest Roman cities you can build by striking a balance between both expensive luxury structures, such as a city palace (which takes up a huge amount of space and houses only a few people...but earns a great deal of money in tax revenue), and low-income housing, such as slums, to make sure the rest of your citizens have someplace to live. However, higher-level buildings will also require more resources, so you'll need to make sure your citizens are all gainfully employed and boosting your economy by bringing in the right goods for the right buildings. The game will have a colored overlay system to show which buildings in your city have "influence" over other buildings--you'll want to make sure your luxury spa is close enough to your more-expensive housing to please the wealthier citizens of the burg, for instance. However, your subjects will need to be working in the right roles for the situation. As we'll explain later, in times of war, you may need to split your citizenry between civic-minded activities (such as farming, teaching youngsters at a "grammaticus," or spreading religion at a temple) and active military duty.
Like with any good city-building game, CivCity Rome will have a series of different menus that will let you determine, at a glance, whether your city is doing well or whether there's a certain aspect of your township that could use improvement. You'll be able to use these menus to track statistics such as your citizens' need for entertainment, religion, transportation, and general "splendor" (provided by the most-expensive buildings); a color-coded system of smiling or frowning faces will quickly indicate what aspects of your cities need the most work. These factors will all contribute to an overall happiness rating; you'll usually be given a target happiness rating that you must accomplish with each mission.
Because the game is being developed with production and design assistance from Firaxis, you can expect to see some elements of Civilization in the game, such as full-on technology research and wonders of the world. You'll even have a branching tree of technologies you can research by spending your funds on them, such as leadworking, which will let you create cisterns that provide water to your entire city. By researching the top levels in certain technology branches, you'll also be able to make the Civ series' Great Wonders, such as the Great Library, become available for your city. These wonders will cost huge amounts of money and take a long, long time to build, but once they're in place, they'll provide massive bonuses for your citizens.
Interestingly, the game's single-player campaign will split into two directions: a military-focused game, in which you'll need to fight off hordes of enemy soldiers from Rome's traditional foes (such as Carthage), and a more-peaceful city-building game that will emphasize building, growth, and management. The "peaceful" campaign will end the colonization of Brittania, but the entire game will take place within the lifetime of the Roman Empire, so you won't need to worry about seeing it all get burned in a night.
Development on CivCity Rome is more or less complete at this point. While it does seem to offer about everything you'd expect from a traditional city builder, the game also includes some unique new additions that come right from the Civilization series. CivCity Rome is scheduled for release in July.