Caesar IV

Caesar IV

Caesar IV

Subservient.

It's hard to take a game asking you if you want to install a MySQL ODBC Connector as a sign of good times ahead. Especially when the game then tells you it won't actually work without this superhappyfuntime-sounding application, thus making the previously offered choice entirely futile. Why bother you with something that a) will probably bewilder and alarm you and b) you clearly don't even need to know about anyway? Do they really think you might have some deep-seated prejudice against MySQL, so overwhelming that its presence has to be flagged up separately from the inevitably gigantic and tedious EULA you already agreed to when you started installing the game?

It's a sign, is what it is. A sign that though an awful lot of work has gone into making the mechanics of Caesar IV as exact as possible, perhaps less consideration has gone into what it feels like to be a player of this city management sequel, released eight years on from its last, and hugely popular, iteration. Everything necessary - that is, everything from Caesar III and then some - lurks within, but it's not always presented in suitably 2006, rather than 1998, fashion.

Graphically, there's no problem. Folk with a silly-money graphics card may gently lament that Caesar won't quite squeeze every last drop of pixel juice from their system, but it's plenty pretty. Cities bustle, water shimmers, light diffuses - good work, job done. There's certainly a decent sense of life to a large city, wheelcart-toting Plebs (and the occasional confused escapee from the sheep pen) haring along intricate road systems to collect, process, sell and export multifarious goods like so many poorly-washed ants. As with Caesar III, flow is everything. If a nightmarishly illogical road layout or a Malaria-induced worker shortage is delaying the passage between produce and cash, the economy will grow more slowly, your citizens will whine and up sticks, and you'll lose favour with Rome. No matter how many caged lions you desperately gift to Caesar in tribute (his use for the poor, angry beasts isn't specified, and is perhaps best left a mystery), if your new arm of the Empire is consistently losing money, he'll send the lads around to sort you out.

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Caesar IV demo

With your mouse-clicks.

Vivendi and Tilted Mill have released the first playable demo of Caesar IV, giving you a chance to try out the latest thing in thousands-of-years-old urban planning.

Caesar IV trailer

Caesar IV trailer

Positively build.

The building of Tilted Mill's new city-builder Caesar IV is ongoing, but you can see for yourself how it's shaping up with a new two-minute trailer showing on Eurogamer TV.

The trailer gives an insight into the many improvements you can layer across existing buildings, hints at all sorts of features and shows off the high detail of the graphics engine. It's not all painting and decorating either - as various clashes between armed troops demonstrate.

Caesar IV is due out later this year. For more on the game, check out our recent preview, where designer Tony Leier explains how it's all coming together, along with screenshots and another trailer elsewhere on the site.

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Caesar IV

Pre-E3: The emperor strikes back.

There's a lot of talk about how there are too many sequels knocking about these days, and how too many of them are too similar to their predecessors. But there's also an argument in favour of sequels which deliberately don't muck about too much with the original formula - if it worked well the first time, why not simply try to improve on it, rather than change it? After all, when you make a nice cup of tea, are you disappointed if it turns out to be very similar to the last one you drank? Are you tempted to, say, replace the milk with soy sauce, just to make it a bit "darker"? Why not just serve it in a nicer cup, perhaps with a saucer and everything?

Caesar IV due in 2006

Rome's forth from Leipzig.

Vivendi has announced Caesar IV, the latest in its line of Rome-building strategy games, released a trailer and some screenshots, and pencilled it in for release in 2006.