It seems like just yesterday we featured a game about Rome. Today, more of the ancient city with Roads of Rome II, a full-blown resource management/simulation game that calls upon My Kingdom for the Princess as inspiration. Not only will you be building a path through several unique environments, you'll also bribe barbarians, build settlements, and chop hundreds of trees as you wind your way up to the mountaintops to the home of the gods themselves!
The Caesar has been poisoned, and the only way to cure him is to make an appeal to the gods. The plan is to carve your way through the lands and build a long road leading directly to their abode. Hopefully, this will gain their favor and they will grant you a cure. But as it turns out, the gods have some favors of their own to ask, sending you on a long journey through over 40 levels of resource management challenge.
Roads of Rome II is all about gathering and spending resources. Workers are needed to do everything from filling in holes and building bridges to picking up materials laying on the ground. Simply click on something you want done and, if a worker is free, he'll hop to it. You'll need to stock up on food, provided by berry bushes and pig farms, wood, provided by chopping down trees and by sawmills, and later, gold and rock. Most actions require a resource or two to complete, so managing your task order is just as important as managing your stockpiles.
Most levels have goals in addition to the usual "build a road to the exit" objective, and these vary from collecting unique items to clearing rock, creating certain structures, and exploring parts of the map. Buildings are key to quickly finishing stages in Roads of Rome II, as they provide resource bonuses that need only time to replenish themselves. No tree chopping or berry picking necessary. Later levels also feature different ways of collecting resources, such as lumber laying on the ground for free or seaweed in place of berries.
As you work through levels in Roads of Rome II, you'll unlock more buildings as well as upgrades for existing structures. Early on, you'll gain access to better barracks that allow you to operate two and three workers at a time. Each level you must upgrade these buildings all over again, and deciding which order to do so will vary depending on your tasks as well as the layout of the map.
Analysis: Roads of Rome II builds a more active simulation/resource management game by keeping your attention focused on what's happening on the screen as opposed to boring numbers. Workers are your real focus: what they're doing, where they're at, what they could be doing next. Keep their little hands busy and you won't have any trouble carving a path across the wilderness.
Variety is what makes this game so enjoyable, as Whiterra wasn't content with leaving anything but the core elements the same throughout the levels. One minute you're picking berries for food, the next eating seaweed and scaring away evil squid. The diversity is both visual and structural, and it all looks and plays perfectly from beginning to end.
The gameplay still feels like it has a ways to go before you have solid control over your workers. Our main complaint is the lack of a queuing system. You can only assign an action if a worker is free, otherwise you must wait for one to return to the camp. Why not let the player set up a chain of events, even if it's limited to two or three actions ahead of time?
Roads of Rome II is great entertainment, and a perfect diversion for a rainy afternoon. The challenge level is just right, the visuals are clean and professional, the sense of accomplishment you'll get from paving your way to the home of the gods is strong!