Praetorians

Dan Griliopoulos thinks: If all roads lead to Rome, is there a congestion charge?

Russell Crowe ate his wife, and loved it. Glad he ate ‘er?

Price: £29.99

Publisher: Eidos Interactive

Web Address

Needs

Wants

Complete in: 35 hours (Easy)

Reality check: The game’s Gallic campaign is exactly the same as that Caesar took before he was forced to cross the rubicon.

Body = 800

Ancient strategy games are having a difficult time being individual currently; The Total War series is obviously way out in front, but no one has the time or money to invest in a direct copy (and why would they want to anyway?) For the those not already in the vanguard, the struggle for originality is even tougher. It’s too tempting to follow the golden rules of resource collection, base-building, and unit-churning and create another Celtic Kings, or Cossacks, or American Conquest. So the challenge facing Praetorians is twofold; stave off the hordes of unoriginality, whilst simultaneously watching out for the murderous arrival of Rome: Total War on a distant horizon. Will the game be awarded a triumphal march through Rome, or will it fall on its sword in some squalid corner of some foreign field?

Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!

A legion, right, was just over a thousand men. That didn’t include the auxiliaries (archers, horsemen and the like), supply trains, priests, wives and kids and the innumerable hangers-on like looters and thieves. Now Praetorians could probably just about manage one full legion on the screen, but

The soldiers contained in their ranks as many skilled individuals as the modern army; engineers, architects, artisans and so on. Praetorians tries to maintain the latter theme with auxiliary legionnaries – just legionnaries with their armour off so they can work on building

Siege warfare

Other-wordly.

Of course all this petty realism goes out of the window when you encounter the Egyptians

x-heads/captions

Physician, heal thyself!

Roman in the gloamin.

Standard Box-outs

Sticking Point

Crossing The River Argh.

Time code: Three Hours.

Challenge: The game doesn’t tell you this, but the first four missions are tutorials – they simply let you get used to commanding an army, building units and so on. It’s therefore surprise how much the difficulty level jumps when you get to the River Arar. Ever copse, every turn of the trail, seems to hide another unit of enemies, and then once you’ve finally got over the bridge you suddenly attract more teutons than a sausage festival.

Solution: First you’ll need to capture the small indomitable gualish village at the bottom right of the map (There’s a useful bunch of gaulish allies at the left.) Then build the right-bridge, wipe out the archers in the middle of the map, send horsemen across the ford to take out the catapult that blocks the left bridge, build it, and bring your legions across.

Up Pompeii, Down

Gladiator, Bun Hur, Up Pompeii, pilum,

Argue with me