Best Roman City Building game to date.
What is particularly nice about Grand Ages: Rome, however, is the stunning graphics, and the excellent quality of the animation of the population. It is very well done. By default, the camera allows tilting, rotation and zooming. Zooming right out switches to a map view which gives an overview of the area you are building in. However, building is not possible when fully zoomed out and I think the game could have benefitted from an intermediate zoom level allowing a good overview of the city while allowing building at the same time. What I like about the camera, though, is the ability to zoom right in to street level and get an impression of what the city looks like if you are actually a citizen living in it. It brings you closer then Anno 1404's postcard view and allows full movement. However, a proper 1st person walkthrough camera would have been my preference. I don't know why these games don't have it.
A major difference with this game and other city builders like Anno 1404 is that you can only place buildings that produce things on specific, predetermined locations of resources that are pre-programmed on the map. These locations are marked by flags, and underneath each flag is a slot which will accept one special building. While it is acceptable to limit such resources as spring water or mineral deposits to fixed locations like this, why should pig farms and stone quarries require such a limit? That said, these restrictions do make the game a lot more challenging, that otherwise might have been too easy.
One thing I did find too easy was carrying out research. All it required was a school, which you can build early on in a game. Libraries and Philosopher Academies aren't necessary, as they offer only the same research possibilities as schools which is disappointing. Why not have the more advanced buildings offer new and different research possibilities?
The mechanics of the game are quite simple, yet while it's easy to create small settlements in peaceful areas, creating and maintaining one that is attacked by barbarians offers a greater challenge. Also challenging is the urbanisation of large areas, formed by connecting several settlements into one large city.
Grand Ages: Rome is a good solid city building game that looks stunning, and I'm sure you will enjoy it if you have an interest in Ancient Rome. The Gamespot review on this one struck me as being unfairly hard, and Gamespot's score too low. Look at the metascore and the players' scores - not Gamespot's. This game is easily worth 6.5 to 7.