Preview by: Erin Ellis
If anybody ever pissed off the Romans more than the Goths or the Celts, it would have been the Carthaginians. So much so that the Punic Wars ended with Rome sacking Carthage, killing everyone in sight and then salting the earth so that crops would never again grow there. Haemimont Games's newest title Nemesis of the Roman Empire covers this rather sanguinary period in history.
Alternately known as Celtic Kings: The Punic Wars, Nemesis is a follow-up to Haemimont's Celtic Kings: Rage of War; a game that covered the struggle between the Romans and the Gauls in the time of Caesar.
If you’ve played Rage of War, you'll be comfortable playing the Roman faction again this time around. Aside from a few new upgrades for units like Priests, and an option to spend money to upgrade troops near your town center, not much has been changed for Nemesis. The real draw is the Carthaginian faction.
Elephants and Numidian camel riders are just a couple of the diverse and colorful units available to Carthage. The former are, as one would imagine, formidable tank units that are not equaled for sheer power and vitality by any other unit in the game. Of course, Carthage’s key historical hero is Hannibal Barca; the man who crossed the Alps and ravaged the heartland of the Roman Empire.
The press demo included an adventure featuring Hannibal's advance on Rome as well as a Roman adventure requiring the defense of the city of Messina. Also included was a single player, random map, but it only allowed play as the Romans, so I was unable to get a peek at the Carthaginian base and tech tree.
Hannibal’s adventure, however, did provide a wide and enticing variety of units. Berber Assassins, Libyan Footmen and Nobles, each with their own special abilities, were included in the pre-set army. It was enough of a peek to whet the appetite of any historical strategy gamer. I would have to say that, if you enjoyed Rage of War, the Carthaginians are shaping up to be the franchise’s most entertaining playable faction thus far.
On his march towards Rome, Hannibal’s army encounters a fortified Roman camp containing a significant army. A large river, with only two possible fords, separates the armies. Each crossing is held by a small group Roman troops. Hannibal possesses a very large and assorted army himself, but the strategic decision required is: does one plunge over one river crossing with ones entire army? Or does one split ones army and try to take both crossings?
In either case, the Roman camp will send wave after wave of reinforcements to whichever ford is being attacked. If one concentrates ones forces on a single crossing, the Romans will eventually wear down ones army. However, if one takes both crossings, the Romans can only send so many reinforcements to either of the areas under attack. The result is that the Carthaginians are always in a position of having superior numbers at both locations, and in the end, they are left with more than enough units to overcome the main camp.
It was this sort of well-constructed mission that made Rage of War so appealing despite its below-standard graphics and simple tech-tree scheme.
Graphically, the series seems to be standing pat. Even the Roman towns look exactly the same as those in Rage of War. Maps still possess a rich and varied topography with plenty of beneficial items and locations scattered about for the use of all. In addition, it appears that the neutral hostile faction of the Teutons will be once again available as mercenaries to those who can overcome the hordes around their camps.
Missing from this demo were the Iberians, another new faction discussed at length, right here, in part two of a dev diary featured on Gamer’s Hell.
It would appear that the final build will include multiplayer, two single player adventures, a random map generator for single player scenarios and a map editor. In short, all of the goodies that strategy gamers have come to expect as standard will be present.
Celtic Kings: Rage of War was a quirky, yet entertaining RTS title. Driven by meaty, historical content coupled with a mixture of Celtic and Latin mysticism, it possessed a charm and depth of gameplay that counter-balanced its lack of flash and glitz. Nemesis of the Roman Empire, published by Enlight Software, seems set to offer the same appeal with a new, titillating Carthaginian faction.