City Builders and you: Grand Ages Rome

What I really love about this game, is that your inhabitants mill around, toga-clad patricians head to the temples, children head to school, plebs work in their insulae and slaves are being lead to their bloody brutal deaths in the Arenas. It’s delightful to watch, absolutely nothing like zooming in on your grand forum, and seeing some citizen holding a speech.

Grand Ages Rome is a classical Roman city builder. You build a Roman city, you ensure people have their needs, that temples cover the cities houses, all the good old stuff, we all know and remember, from Impression Games’ Ceasar. You build mines, quarries, logging camps and farm, producing all that the three clases of Roman society need.

Resource management is classical, pun intended, buildings costs cash and some materials. And then has an upkeed in materials, forcing you to upgrade your resource infrastructure, in order to support growth.

The three classes of Roman society are, as any educated person will know, the plebs, the equite and the patricians, in that order.

The Plebs are your lower class, they work in the basic industries and are by far, the most common of people in your fair town. Make them happy, through ensuring they have enough different food, basic entertainment and religious access, and they’ll start producing goods, out of the workshops and small business on the lowest floor of the insulae, used by the upper classes and good for export to the rest of the empire.

Equite are your middle class, their area was the army, so when happy, the produce recruits for your Legions, they also man the more advanced industries, some of the temples and most of the military infrastructure. They also improve some the areas plebs also work in.

And finally, the top of the cities social stratum, the elite, the rich, the Patricians. These guys work in the really advanced public buildings, the senates, the bigger temples. When these upper class twits are happy, they produced Authority, used for an number of special abilities, like getting an emergency batch of slaves.

The military side is straightforward, if the barbarians have two squads, show up with two better squads or obliterate them with massive army of proud Roman legionaries, or let a few auxilia deal with their barbarian brethern. Surpress their barbarian villages to gain a steady stream of resources, or burn it, crush them, to gain a one-time bonus of slaves and money. So if you don’t need the bonus, burn their houses, kill their man and enslaves everything else, including the pigs.

Slaves are technically speaking a fourth class in the game’s Roman society, they just don’t have any houses. Instead of houses, you build slave camps, that provide slaves in an area, you can then use them as a sort of, I-don’t-feel-like-building-a-settlement-over-there, instrument. They can handle basic industries, like logging and quarries.

But, you can also use them in Arenas: “THOSE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE, SALUTE YOU!”, which they never actually said, still, a cooler use than anything else.

Now, the multiplayer is sadly utterly extinct, this isn’t a new game, so the multiplayer scene is pretty much gone. As far as I could tell, you build a city or more, and then just duke it out, sending your armies out to destroy your opponents armies, and besige them, I guess it could be really cool.

There’s a second mode, where you just have to reach some goal or milestone instead, like get a certain amount of income or something. The only activity I found was a few Italians using the lobby as a chatroom, wich just confuses the fuck outta me.

Alas, a good game, with good missions, good fun. Worth a look really.

You can get it from Steam. I give it a 88/100.

Duke Nukem Forever is bloody stupid.

The game starts up with Duke taking a piss, but not just any piss. A piss of such magnitude, of such glory, so loaded with testosterone and steroids, that’s it officially qualifies as a chemical weapon in no less than 53 of the lower states. Now Duke zips up and fires of some catchy remark.

Which i sadly didn’t listen to, wondering if the game is really taking the piss, of everything. It’s a relic, a pipe(bomb( dream, something that really should have stayed lost, or make ten years ago, where it would have been a masterpiece. Sadly, now it’s just another mediocre FPS, which is really bad, because this was once upon a time, the potential for a champion among champions, now, and yet.

Duke Nukem Forever is probably the Silliest Game of the Year, which is a bit of a problem, because I do not think, it was suppose to feel quite this silly, defenitely not a serious game, but it doesn’t take the shit quite as good as say, Serious Sam did, it just messes around with mediocre health regeneration, quicktime event and sexism. It’s just juvenile to such a staggering degree, that it just ends up being fucking stupid, you don’t laugh, you groan.


I never see the enemies like this, all I see is a garbled mess as they mindlessly charge me.

A health bar replaced by an ego bar, increased by looking in a mirror, eating doughnuts, pumping iron and behaving like a pillock. An enemy AI that’s just about the same, as the one used in Duke Nukem 3D, the decade old gaming classic, shows that Gearbox didn’t even bother trying to innovate this game at all.

An entire stage, with a miniaturized Duke, driving around in a fucking RC car, it’s just so sad, Half-Life 2 did this years ago, twice, without the retarded gimmick. It’s like playing that ancient MicroMachines racing game all over again, just worse, and less fun. Seriously, who thought this was in any way a good idea? Yes, I do indeed love sections of constantly re-spawning enemies, where all I can hope to achieve in my present state, is make them jump around on a single leg. Dodging sure is fun, fun like taking a shite in a winter forest, surrounded by rampaging LARPers.

And don’t make me start ranting about the magnificent design off the random passersby you encounter, they look like they’ve just escaped from freaking Outcast, or perhaps even, from some of the old trailers of Duke Nukem Forever. There’s just no excuse for this kinda useless work.

And these motherfucking pigs! Fuck them, hateful little shite gameplay.

And dear sweet one-eyed Wotan, god of destiny, god of death, the all knowing, the all-seeing, all hail Odin, true King of the Gods, those fucking twins are annoying, it’s like having Tony Blair licking your ears, possibly pleasant, but deeply annoying. I don’t even want to save them, when they are inevitably kidnapped, the world would be better of without them, hell, the universe would be better off without them.

And hey, remember how Alyx from Half-Life 2 looked, behaved and dressed like a sensible human being? And remember how no one really tries to do that again? Duke Nukem Forever once against proves that it is the anti-matter of all innovation, and scales the whole thing back to strippers and lesbian twin schoolgirls. Skimpy clothing, skimpy brains, skimpy motivation, boring as fuck.

Go visit and actual strip bar you useless freaks.

Gotta give the game a few points, it’s tradition, it is deeply honest, it does have a mature rating, no pandering to the politically correct crowd, or to WalMart. And it runs on my ancient PC, a pc that’s so decrepit, that it’s being held together with glue, dust and my iron will.


This picture contains nothing but filthy lies!

In the end, don’t bother, unless you have the mental youthfulness of a seven year old German boy. The game-play itself, is so utterly devoid of innovation, so generic, that the layer of ancient nostalgia, makes you feel kinda sad.

Don’t buy it, watch a Let’s Play on Youtube, see a stupid friend play it. But stay away, it’s just not good.

Not even charming.

If you are a retarded man-child, go buy it on Steam.

Rating: 43/100

Aion: Tower of Obvious Grind

Let’s get something out of the way before I start pouring out the bile and hatred on this little stupid Korean MMORPG.

It’s very, very, very pretty. In most cases, when it comes to the environment and scenery, I’ll go as far as “beautiful”, and that’s going far when it comes from the horrible human being who adores Impressionist art.

The environment is utterly alien and completely awesome, it vaguely reminds you of old Morrowind, simply because you see so much odd shit, unlike World of Warcraft, which is actually fairly generic fantasy bollocks.

The character design is as retarded as you’d expect from a Korean MMO, utterly useless armour, wings, bling and more bling.

It’s like some accidentally walked into a Cosplay convention covered in glue. Which I suppose is what Aion’s primary focus group wants: Anime chicks in steel bikinis. Or anime chick in metal dominatrix gear.

It’s silly, useless and about as practical as a sword during the Battle of Midway, standing on a battleship, on the Japanese side, before it gets fistful of torpedoes up it’s ass.


Now, onto the actual gameplay.

It plays like World of Warcraft, pretty much like World of Warcraft, select enemy, murder it, collect loot, enjoy the seething anger of Greenpeace.

There’s one or two stupid little gimmicks and one pretty large stupid gimmick. One of the small ones is the whole combo system, which I believe Age of Conan introduced into mainstream MMOs, which works I suppose, the timing doesn’t have to be absolute, so at least they know about the concept of lag.

The second much larger gimmick, and the one Aion’s been selling itself on, is flight. When you get to lvl 10, you go though a silly little cutscene, get a pair of wings and what? 40 or 50 seconds worth of flight. Woohooo!

I’ll admit that the ability to attack from the air is awesome, to bad there’s plenty of place where you can’t fly, due to gameplay issues and magic wizards of Oz.

So it remains a gimmick.

Now I never made it beyond lvl 12ish, because the game is boring as all hell, if you’re not some weaboo lunatic who lusts after Son-Goku’s useless arse.

I suppose it’s heaven for that particular part of the market, but it’s not heaven for any sane person with tastes that move beyond flashy lights and big muscular men screaming at each other.

Supposedly, there’s alot of active PvP and bollocks, but then, supposedly, Atlantis lies in Sweden and Copenhagen is the capital of Amsterdam.

So yeah, plays like World of Warcraft, looks pretty, has retarded character design only a delusional madman could possibly enjoy.

Which brings me to a small little spot of hatred: The female voices, occasionally you’ll get to hear your character produce some odd moans and noises, presumably in order to be “awesome” or something similar.

To bad the experience was ruined when my supposedly dark and hardcore fireball-slinging sorceress squaked like a four-year old during a cut-scene.

Dear merciful Osiris, they didn’t obliterate the retarded Asian high-pitched girlish scream from the game when they transferred it to the West?

Why am I surprised? This is a game for the deranged anime fans who watch Naruto like it was the second coming of Napoleon.

Anything else? Oh yeah, as I said, I never actually managed to get anywhere impressive with this silly game, so I’ll leave you with this, possibly outdated, little image:

Now, to be fair, I don’t know if it’s still accurate, but the fact that a company is capable of misjudging the entire MMO customer base of the Western world that badly, is kinda scary.

This isn’t the old EverQuest years NCSoft, there aren’t many hardcore loser gamers left, they’ve all gone casual, or have somehow managed to get a life.

The final verdict? Don’t buy this piece of shit, spend your money on something more useful.

Like a lobotomy.

City Builders and you: Children of the Nile

Welcome to a brand new bunch of useless reviews no one will ever read, because you’re all to busy masturbating to a disorganised list of Warhammer 40k quotes.

This series is all about the particular Video Game genre called “City Builders“, a largely Niche genre, which mainly aims towards hilariously nerdy people, me included. It can be seperated into two main sub genres: Ancient City Builders, based on anything from ancient Egypt to Medieval Castles, and Modern City Builders, who are basically just SimCity and it’s successors, also the entire Modern City Builder sub genre died out with Simcity 4, SimCity Societies sucks awfully and Monte Cristo can’t make games.

Now, today’s game is Children of the Nile by Tilted Mill Entertainment, oddly enough the same damn company who made the absolutely awful Simcity Societies. However, they are also the successor company of Impression Games, one of the grand old City-builder developers, the only other members of that rare club is classical Maxis, back when they where still developing shit other that the Sims, and good old Bullfrog.

Children of the Nile is set entirely in Ancient Egypt, with it’s expansion pack Alexandria, covering the rise of Greek Egypt, during the conquests of Alexandria. And remarkably enough, it actually has plenty of unique selling points for the budding little simulation nerd to enjoy.

The graphics are quite good, for a game developed by a small independent company, and is actually fairly enjoyable to watch and observe, which is important for me, I personally enjoy watching all those little people, running around, pretending to matter.

It’s single largest selling point is the way the economy works in the game, unlike most Ancient City Builders, the players involvement in the city’s economy is actually slightly limited.

In most of those games, you have a currency, say gold, you use it to build absolutely everything, but not in this game, this is ancient Egypt after all. it was all barter economy back then, gold and silver was used exclusively to make jewellery and bribes to foreigners.

So the parts of the economy the player actually controls are based on two things, bricks, used to build most of the mid to high-tier buildings, like bakeries (Produces food for government employees) to gigantic Cult temples. And the the big dog, food.

That’s right, the most important “currency” in Children of the Nile is simply food, as King, you take a share of most of the food produced from the farmers of your city. Your own palace will, throughout the game, support from six to ten farmers, who will then deposit a lions share of the food into the city granaries, that food is used by brick makers, bricklayers, government labourers, soldiers and of course: Priests, scribes, commanders and Overseers.

There is also a large private economy, which, if done properly, is larger than the Government funded one, all farmers build their houses out whatever they can find, you simply decided how many there should be, the answer to that one is, by the way, as many as you can, and a few extra just in case.

Now, your Palace can only support, what, six farmers in the beginning, that’s not really enough to get a nice big city now is it? Of course not, fortunately enough, Egypt is a feudal society, and you can build nice big estates for Nobles, who then support even most farmers, and you get a chunk of the food produced, as taxes. Which you then mainly spend on various support structures for the city itself, ie. temples, hospitals and schools, manned by the most important educated Government employee, the Priest.

So, what does the nobles, farmers, servants, government employees and the Royal family itself, spend most of their food on? Why mats, linen, pottery, baskets and in the case of the nobles and educated, six different kinds of luxuries. In most City builders in the Ancient world, it’s up to the player and the government to set up production chains, pay wages and so on and so forth.

Not here, Common shop-owners and luxury show-owners handle everything themselves. The inhabitants of the city use their food to buy stuff from the shops as they need it, the show-keepers then travel around and gather the materials themselves, often sending out their kids to do it, and produce it themselves. They are completely outside of Government control, they only thing you as player do, is control where they build their small shops.

It’s oddly realistic, especially when you remember that most societies back then where utterly dependent on a successful and good harvest.

So now you have a lovely little city, plenty of food to go around, your scribes out collecting taxes from the fields, you priests handling the gods and the people’s health and education, your commanders commanding what military you may or may not need and your Overseers handling, oh yes, what are they doing, why they are answering a questions you would presently be thinink about.

“That’s all good, but what’s the point of all this?”. You blood moron, it’s fucking Egypt, what the hell do you think the point is? To build some damn Pyramids!

Your Overseers handle the labourers dragging the necessary stones to the sites of the pyramids, the raw obelisks and statues to those sites and temples. They can also be used for mining and quarrying when needed.

And what are the pyramids and brick tombs used for? Well, first of all, to contain your dead Pharaoh, members of the Royal family and in the case of the really small brick Mastaba, the nobles and Educated people of the city.

And guess what, they also produce Prestige, which is the “currency” that decided how many Educated governement employees you can have in total, thus really enforcing a limit to how large your city can grow. You need more priests to handle all those temples and hospitals after all.

These is also a little world map thing, which is similar to what Impression Games old products had, you set up trade routes, send out your army to murder everything that looks at you funny, complete little tasks. All to gain more prestige, resources and cool luxury bollocks to keep your nobles happy. Those dilletants even need entertainers, private economy again, and servants just to be happy. Although the servants are also used by the luxury shopkeepers to gather resources, they can afford it anyway.

Oddly enough, your shopkeepers and entertainers usual end up being filty rich, simply because they really don’t have that much to spend the money on. They don’t buy all the luxuries the nobles and educated citizens can spend their income/wages on, so it simply builds up.

Meaning that in the later game, most of your nobles are former Luxury shopkeepers and so on. It actually works fairly well, there are little annoyances, but nothing serious.

So yeah, if you enjoy these kind of city builder games, I’d happily recommend Children of the Nile, Tilted Mill apparently really do care about this little game.

Oh yeah, the military part isn’t very strong, but they rarely are, so who cares?

I would’ve have ripped Hinterland a new arsehole for being a shallow city builder with a shallow RPG smashed into it, but apparently they are releasing another freaking expansion for it, so hey, I’ll wait.