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Posted on Mar 20, 2005 in Electronic Games

Fall of Rome Online – Game Review (PC)

Armchair General

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OVERVIEW

Fall of Rome is a wholly online, Turn-Based Strategy game, in the tradition of board games such as Risk and Diplomacy - albeit with a much greater depth. Combining aspects of a Role-Playing Game with a traditional Wargame, Fall of Rome is played via a downloadable java web-interface. The game combines political intrigue, high-level strategy and tactical combat all intertwined with the ambitions and frailties of the human mind. With updates downloaded to a player’s PC, each turn has a three-day window to allow players to take their time reviewing the game and making their strategic decisions. As a result, players have the luxury of choosing a time that suits them to play the game.

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Participants in a game of Fall of Rome are tasked with leading a tribe of peoples to ultimate victory over eleven other human opponents, allowing for a great deal of intrigue, combat, deal-making and back-stabbing as players claw their way to victory, or find themselves cast by the wayside in defeat.

Like Risk, the game takes place on a map split into many different regions. In the case of Fall of Rome, the map depicts Western Europe at the dawn of the Dark Ages. Regions, towns and cities are available for players to conquer, assuming they can keep their opponents at bay.

Like Diplomacy, orders are adjudicated simultaneously at the end of each turn phase. The game program does this automatically behind the scenes, with updated status reports sent when players next log in.

Clicking on the thumbnail images that follow will display a larger version of each image.

STARTING A GAME

Signing up to Fall of Rome is simple, prospective players merely need to create an account online and put themselves into a queue for the next game. Fall of Rome is free for the first 30 days, meaning that if a game is started and it is found that the style of play is not to someone’s liking, they can simply cancel their account within 30 days and pay nothing. If however they should decide to continue, their Credit Card will be charged from that point onwards. At the basic level of membership, a player will pay just $12.95. This allows a member to play one game at a time. Higher levels of membership will allow members to play more games at once – if they are brave enough!

Although it may take a couple of days for a submission to reach the front of the queue and for a game to start, this is not a major problem as it gives the new player plenty of time to read up on the various rules available for download as .pdf files. The rules are easy to follow and include a beginner’s guide to help new members get fully up to speed with their first game.

When a game does start, players are presented with a list of the various tribes who will be vying for power – one of these must be led to victory. At this stage it is possible to state a preferred race that a member may wish to play as, or, as I did, a race that a member definitely does NOT want to play as. Because more than one person will often ask to play as, for example, the Huns, negative preferences will take precedence over positive ones. For example, I asked not to play as the Franks, and my request was granted, had I chosen to play as the Franks, it may not have proved possible to grant my request.

As it transpired, in my review game I was granted control of the Thuringians. From a historical context, the Thuringians were apparently a Saxon tribe who were conquered by the Franks. Oh the irony…

Here is the main logon screen. As you can see, players can select a persona by whom they will be known in the game. Of course, during my game, I chose my evil alter ego, Doctor Sinister. I figured it might help me to intimidate my opponents into surrendering to me (it didn’t work!). To the right you will see that there is a countdown timer. Each turn phase in Fall of Rome lasts for three days. Players have this time in which to submit their orders, whereupon they are simultaneously adjudicated at the end, and the timer reset. If you are in danger of missing a move, you will receive an E-mail reminder.

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