Caesar 3 Review | Classic City Builder Game

Caesar 3 Review | Classic City Builder Game

November 6, 2019 10 By Kody Olson


Ahhh, the Caesar series…oh the fond memories
of creating intricate road systems and the likewise fond frustrations of not having enough
plebes to maintain them. I played the first two titles way back when
computer CPUs couldn’t go beyond 100 Mhz and they’ve left a wonderful impression
in some of the cobwebbiest parts of my memory. Building up and managing the lives of ancient
Romans fits the bill quite nicely when it comes to my own personal thematic preferences
in terms of city builder games, since the lack of a proper theme has been my common
critique to both Banished and Settlers II 10th Anniversary Edition. So when my passion for city builders was reignited
by Banished, I thought it would be time to go back to the Caesar games and pick up the
series where I left off, at Caesar III. How would the game impact me today, almost
20 years after it was released? While this is by no means the game’s main
characteristic, I feel the need to start the review by saying how good the graphics look. Granted you might have to have an appreciation
for pixelart in general in order to really appreciate it, but I feel that even if you
don’t, you’ll still be impressed by how cool the buildings look, regardless of their
size and how descriptive the animations for each of them are. Not to mention the odd weird Easter Egg type
animation of seeing some of the lion tamers walk their lions around town. The game also sounds great and you have the
option of clicking on any one member of your city or walker as they’re technically called,
and get a very street-level idea of what needs to be improved in their respective block. And blocks will be your urban design bread
and butter as this is the only way to truly optimize and coordinate supply chain logistics
with your walkers’ needs. But before I dive deeper into the review I
should mention that the game actually starts with a cinematic introduction to the Roman
Empire. I found this to be a bit surprising since
odds are, one wouldn’t exactly be playing the third game in a series and have no idea
what the series is about, nor would I expect someone playing a Roman Era-inspired city
builder to have no knowledge of the Roman Empire because after all…*monty python* Caesar 3 is all about building blocks of buildings…hmmm
that alliteration sounds kinda weird, it’s about constructing blocks of buildings and
then arranging them in such a way that they are spaced away from food production and industrial
areas so that they cannot negatively influence the value of real estate for homes – because
apparently nobody never wanted to live close to the docks, granaries, reservoirs or marketplaces,
yeah I always found that last one weird – but also not too far away from food sources and
goods that your walkers go wanting for anything. Even if you prefer the more haphazard and
chaotic approach of going with the flow and building things whenever you need them and
wherever you can, the Caesar 3 campaign isn’t very forgiving once you’re done with the
first two or three introductory missions. So I suggest you get a handle on block building
this as quickly as possible. Thankfully there’s a great source out there
on the web which I used and which I suggest you check out before you jump into the game. It’s called Caesar III Heaven and it’s
a great source for tips, walkthroughs of maps and all manner of useful Caesar related things,
I’ll link it in the video description. One major milestone that will help tremendously
with this whole block building thing is gatehouses. Once you get access to building gatehouses,
make sure to use them. Gatehouses act as filters for your blocks
– they will keep the walkers living there within their blocks, but will allow marketplace
workers and other service walkers to pass. Otherwise, they’ll be running around all
over the place and might not end up using the amenities that you’ve placed right in
front of their stupid faces. Which will happen regardless of this sometimes,
but just to minimize it. Some other quick basic tips that you should
know from the get-go: prioritize water, prefectures, engineering and food production. The first three are crucial to get right from
the start because they will heavily influence the speed and ease with which your dwellings
will evolve. But once you get done with the basics of building
roads, providing your people with access to fresh water, a marketplace, make sure that
their building don’t spontaneously burst into flames and that they don’t stab each
other in the streets, it’s time to start dealing with the real problem that lies between
you and success. The biggest menace to your people’s morale
and general welfare. The main obstacle in the way of you having
a wonderful Roman-themed virtual ant farm. The motherhumping gods. So let’s talk a bit about the Roman Gods
as envisioned by Caesar III. The main disaster mechanic of Caesar III is
made up almost exclusively by the various Roman Gods throwing their hissy fits. The Gods are tremendous assholes and if they’re
not happy they will be the source of most of your problems. If they’re appeased, then they’ll give
you a bit of a bonus now and then, but you’ll most likely only have to deal with the normal
responsibilities of city building and management. The bad things they can do far outweigh the
good things they can do, so appeasing them is very important. In this respect the Roman Gods are basically
the Mob. There are two ways in which you can pay your
protection tax, I mean appease the gods. The first one implies you building temples
dedicated to them. Here’s where their fickle attitudes show
themselves first, because you should never have more temples dedicated to any one god
than any other. Which basically means that when you build
temples, you need to build one for each of them, otherwise incur their wrath. And it would be great if that would be it
but unfortunately, like I mentioned earlier, these are mobser gods I’m talking about,
so a one-time payment isn’t part of their business model, which bring me neatly enough
to festivals. Every once in awhile you should organize festivals
in order to keep the morale of your people up. However, each festival must be dedicated to
one of the gods which means, you have to dedicate festivals to each of them, unless you want
them to get jealous and smite you, obviously. Now depending on the particular map or mission
that you’re undertaking, you may choose to ignore one god, once in awhile. After all, Neptune can do fuck-all when you
don’t have ships but most often than not this isn’t really an option. So what I suggest you do is to throw small
festivals dedicated to each god one after another and space them out once every few
months. This way, your population will constantly
be happy, and you’ll hit each of the gods once per year. The order in which you do this though should
depend on the particularities of each mission. For military campaigns you should start with
Mars, when having to use fish as a source of food, you can’t neglect Neptune and just
to be safe don’t forget about Mercury – since you’ll most likely won’t be capable of
producing everything you need on any given map and need to trade. Venus is required for your people’s overall
mood and Ceres is crucial if you have a heavy-farming map. Unfortunately you cannot simply ignore them
and just not build temples, your citizens will require places of worship in order to
evolve and develop your housing, so this is a paint in the ass which you’ll have to
constantly manage. The only other major disaster mechanic is
the earthquakes – but once they happen and most likely ruin your game, the next time
you start that mission you’ll know where the earthquake happens and can build around
it and there’s also the occasional wolf pack or aggressive peoples who in all honesty,
are only aggressive because you invaded to begin with so you can’t really blame them. Also the best way of dealing with wolves is
to slow down the game speed to 10% – so you can take your time and also get them to be
static for awhile, and simply build aqueducts around their initial positions because then
they’ll be boxed in and you can always kill them later with some spearmen. Trust me, if you leave the wolves to their
own devices, they will eat your people, I found that one out the hard way. Changing the speed that time goes by in the
game is an incredibly important feature of the game, obviously slowing it down to almost
standstill allowing you to carefully plan out what goes where and how, and once everything
is set you can speed time up and fill your plots with walkers and start producing food
and goods. This feature is so important in city builders
that I am quite surprised they never made a toggle for it on the main user interface. Instead you have to go to the menu and speed
up or slow down time every time you need to, it’s more than a bit annoying. After spending a lot of time changing the
game speed, you get to the point where it’s so annoying and flow breaking start looking
into the documentation that thankfully, the game comes loaded with, and then you find
this little piece of info which makes everything run sooooo much smoother. Regardless however, of how slow or fast you
get the time to pass in the game one thing remains constant. That Caesar 3 is a motherfucking time-vampire,
and I can hear you say, well dude, it’s a city builder, by default they’re time-vampires,
to which I would say, I hear you, but you haven’t spent 3 fucking days on one godamned
mission trying to get to a population of 5000. Also, you haven’t spent the following 2
weeks worth of gaming time, trying to complete what apparently is a legendarily difficult
mission, and still not manage to successfully. That is what I’m talking about when I say
time-vampire. So much so, that I had to leave the country
in order to finally be able to make a clean break and never start the game ever again. Because honestly, I think I would still been
still playing that goddamn map. Never again Lugdunum. Never again Caesar III. Full disclosure, I had to leave the country
for completely other reasons, but it was a good thing because I got to cut the Caesar
III cord cold turkey, in order to you know, get to play some other games. Just look at this, look how many saved games
I have on this one map. And at least half of these are saves upon
saves, so the number is much larger. One playthrough I thought I could get the
mission objectives done once enough time passes, well apparently, if you take too much time
to complete your mission objectives, Caesar gets pissy and sends the army to bust up your
shit. This makes literally no sense since he’s
busting up a properly working city of his, but whatever, it is a more epic method of
ending a mission than simply getting a message window pop up Whilst playing the game I would have really
loved the ability to zoom out to get a better overview of what was going on but maybe Caesar
4 has this feature, since that one is 3D. However, as is the case with many titles that
develop either a legendary status and/or a cult one, someone else on the Internet thought
about the same thing and not only that, but they also had the relevant skills to do something
about it, instead of simply mentioning it in a video. As such, there’s a mod out there that allows
you to play the game in higher resolutions, which will make things that much more interesting
and even more pleasing to the eyes since the pixel graphics look incredibly well when they’re
smaller. It’s both a pleasure and quite useful to
watch your Romans go about their day in high resolution since it makes it easier to spot
problems in your supply chains. There aren’t that many city building game
series that can boast the name recognition or the reputation that the Caesar games can. Granted this is mostly in part due to the
fact that they stopped making Caesar games back in 2006, long before they could experiment
with the formula too much and dilute the city building experience like the SimCity and Settlers
series eventually did. And after playing Caesar III, I can say that
it still holds up 20 years after release, as a very solid city building experience,
my frustrations with that one map and even the fact that I haven’t started the game
up again aside, it’s great and I do not regret the time that I did put into it one
bit. I don’t really know what to expect from
Caesar IV now to be honest. I do remember it getting some mixed reviews
back when it was released but other than that I have no idea what to expect. In case you guys played it, leave me a comment
telling me whether or not I should give it a try in the future because right now I’m
all Romaned-out, I think I’ll be visiting more nordic realms with my next city builder
review. Thanks for watching and have a nice day!