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  Review: Nemesis of the Roman Empire
On 04/30/04 by James 'Sweetjimmy' Long

Developer: Haemimont
Publisher: Enlight Software
Release Date: 3/25/04
ESRB: "E" for Everyone
Official Site:
Genre: Real-time Strategy
Platform: PC

As time goes on, it gets harder and harder for me to get excited over new real-time Strategy (RTS) games. For a long, long while it seemed as if no single developer could dethrone the mighty Blizzard�s Starcraft as the �Best. RTS. Evar� and I�d even go as far as saying it probably hasn�t happened yet. However, every so often an RTS comes along that does things a little differently from the rest of the pack. Rise of Nations was the last RTS I really sunk my teeth into because I felt the Risk-like gameplay was fresh and entertaining. Nemesis of the Roman Empire (NRE) also brings some fresh changes to the RTS genre and I can honestly say it takes a big step in the right direction. NRE possesses a few hard-to-miss flaws, but all in all it is a fun game.

The backdrop of NRE focuses on a period of ancient Rome known as the Punic Wars, when the Roman Empire butted heads with that of Carthage circa ~260 B.C. At this point in time, the Carthage Empire was much larger and stronger than Rome. At the height of this war, the great Carthage general, Hannibal, invaded the Italian Peninsula and even camped his forces outside the walls of Rome.
:: nemesis ::
:: nemesis ::
:: nemesis ::
Carthage allied itself with the Iberians of today�s Western Europe and the Gauls of what we know as Central Europe. Each of these empires are selectable races in NRE, even though historically speaking the latter three teamed up against Rome. As you can see, the Punic Wars era comprises excellent material for building an RTS around. One of the coolest things of NRE is the fact that much of the Punic War history is talked about while you play through the adventure mode.

As you would expect, each race has its strengths and visual representation but for the most part all four empires have the same basic types of units available to them. These units such as footmen, cavalrymen, and ranged attackers are all at your disposal to use as you see fit while attempting to capture enemy fortresses and villages. The most important type of unit you�ll use, though, is the hero. Heroes work in NRE much as they have worked in other modern RTS�s; you can assign up to 50 lesser units to one hero and those lesser units gain bonuses and stay in whichever formation you command. This hero system turns unit management a very organized ordeal since all you have to do is move your hero around and the entire formation moves with him. One of the fresh, new factors NRE brings to the table is its lack of structure building. No longer do you have to race to build your barracks and your blacksmith. Everything you need is given to you, structurally speaking, and this allows you to focus more on resource management, unit building, and tactical fighting. To build units more advanced than the standard foot soldier, you merely have to purchase a simple upgrade from your smithy. Once that upgrade has completed, you�re able to make those new types of units.

Another new facet that I have not yet seen in an RTS is how NRE requires you to keep your troops supplied with food. To do this, you�re required to set up supply routes from your cities and villages to fortresses that house your troops, or if your armies are in the field, it�s wise to have a food-laden mule at hand to keep troop morale up. It�s not difficult to see how many strategies this system brings to light; if you�re able to successfully control supply routes, you can bring an entire army to its knees.

Don�t expect the NRE artificial intelligence to take it easy on you, though. Even on the �easy� setting, the computer literally lays waste to newbies like me. The AI plays very well and knows when to advance and when to retreat. Don�t expect to see the old �build 5 tanks, send them over to enemy base, and repeat for ever� system from Red Alert. The computer will send out scouts and go for supply routes, just like a real player would.

The last gameplay element that I feel I should comment on is the overhead map. In most RTS games you get little more than a small map on your HUD to show you what�s going on the level.
:: nemesis ::
:: nemesis ::
:: nemesis ::
NRE goes one step further and allows you to quickly pull up a full screen map that shows allied and enemy positions. You can also give basic movement orders from the map screen, but it�s very cool having something large enough to not have to squint at to figure out what color a particular unit is at the other side of the level.

My greatest complaint in the gameplay department does happen to involve AI, though. During one battle sequence while I was fighting off a herd of Carthage elephant riders, I assigned a band of soldiers to a hero that was standing idly by and moved him to stand at my city gates. As he stood there, some of my units would rush out and attack the oncoming force while others merely stood there twiddling their thumbs. To get them to do anything, I had to actually assign my hero to attack a specific target. The ordeal felt a tad clunky, for lack of a better word.

NRE, visually speaking, won�t be turning any heads. On the bright side of things, each class of unit is easily differentiated from the next and each empire has it�s own distinct look. This sort of distinction is imperative in NRE, though because at any time you can have massive amounts of soldiers on your screen battling it out. Unfortunately, battle scenes are relatively boring because you just end up watching one hundred or so units performing the same animations over and over until one side is totally dead.

The definite visual high point of NRE has got to be the number of units you can control at any time without any noticeable slowdown. You can have multiple armies of fifty men battling on numerous fronts and the NRE engine doesn�t even hiccup. In-game dialog between characters is archaic at best, and is displayed in a small text window. Reading this way gets old quick, as does clicking on the dialog window to further the conversation, but in truth, this is but a minor complaint against an otherwise decent title.

The background music of NRE is somewhat hard to notice due to its repetative nature. The few scores that will play while you're battling are orchestrated to match up well with the historic setting. The voice acting, though, is downright horrible. Some of the units will carry thick accents that don't really coincide with their respective nationality. Many of the heroes, for instance, speak with a profound 21st Centery North American accent. I guess if I were splitting hairs, I'd be more concerned with the fact that all units speak in modern English, which really wouldn't have been spoken for a good mellenia after the Punic Wars, but I digress. The voice acting isn't bad because of accents or languages, it's just bad because many of the voiceovers sound either dry, melodramatic, or monotone. I miss the good old days when you could put simspons voices over the standard Warcraft 2 sound schemes.

While I have few nice things to say about both the sound and the visuals of NRE, it's not all that difficult to look past the few flaws on the surface to see it as a fun and engaging RTS. If you are a big strategy fan, I recommend picking up this game. It is fun, reasonably priced, and different enough from the other RTS's to warrent a purchase.

In a Word: Good.

Word to the Publisher: Excellent gameplay, but lacking in the audio/visual neighborhood.

Final Score: 8.0
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#1 - Bulldog - 04/30/04 @ 09:01 PM EST
I've got a girl in a MI town.
Marine Corps life wasa gettin' her down.
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#2 - sweetjimmy - 04/30/04 @ 11:23 PM EST
/me winces at his own lack of grammatical finness.Last Edited on 04/30/04 @ 11:23 PM EST
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#3 - ZiggY - 05/01/04 @ 02:13 AM EST
Just for the record, the yokels that made this game have it wrong, the Punic Wars were fought back when Rome was still a Republic, not an Empire. I know, petty details...
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#4 - sweetjimmy - 05/01/04 @ 02:31 AM EST
i thought they stretched out into rome's imperialistic age, though (at least the very very beginning of it w/cicily/crete)
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#5 - Bulldog - 05/01/04 @ 02:41 AM EST
You thought wrong you idiot.
Go away no one likes you sweetretard.
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#6 - sweetjimmy - 05/01/04 @ 11:10 AM EST
that makes me a saaaad panda!
#7 - ZiggY - 05/01/04 @ 12:41 PM EST
Nah, the very last Punic War, the third one that completely and utterly destroyed Carthage, ended about a century before the beginnings of the Roman Empire...granted, after the first one Rome gained some imperial-esque holdings(Sicily and Sardinia, namely), but these weren't operated in anything like an imperial system.

It IS fair to say though that the wars set Rome very firmly on the path to being an imperial power...At the start of the first war Rome was just a dominant but localized power on the Italian peninsula, and not even the whole peninsula at that. By the end of the third war though Rome pretty much dominated the entire Mediterranean Sea, from Spain to North Africa to the middle east to Greece and the balkans region. All still under the old Republican government though, like I said, it took another century or so to bring that down and replace it with imperial rule.

/ And if you want a REALLY good account of the wars, read "The Punic Wars" by Adrian Goldsworthy. Very interesting, very worthwhile read, even if you're just a casual student of history. The Punic Wars are fascinating stuff, full of all sorts of interesting characters and events, just as good as any fiction out there, except that the stuff all actually happened.
#8 - Oberiko - 05/01/04 @ 06:41 PM EST
Yup, definite historical mistakes in the article (and therefore, I assume, the game itself).

Hamilcar (father of Hannibal) was the great general during the First Punic War in the time frame mention/econd Punic War. Looks like they've mashed them both together (even though they were quite different conflicts).

Carthage was never really that much more powerful then Rome, though the First War could have swung either way (not so much the case in the Second One).

/ The four factions they choose for the conflict are alright I guess, but definitely doesn't feel quite right to leave out the successors.

The republic vs empire's already been covered, but one point would be that the nations that qualify for Nemesis of the Roman Empire status would be Germania and the Huns and maybe Parthia.
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#9 - Eidolon - 05/02/04 @ 12:27 AM EST
I knew I shoulda stayed awake in history class
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#10 - ZiggY - 05/02/04 @ 01:32 AM EST
Oberiko gets an A for today's History Class!

There were a few moments during the second war where Carthage could -and, had they been fighting any other opponent but Rome- SHOULD have won. Particularly following the annihilation of the roman armies at Cannae. Any other nation in that part of the world at that time would have caved like a wet paper bag after the sort of losses Rome suffered in that battle and some of the other earlier Carthaginian victories, but the Romans were (insane, obsessive, awesome) unique in that they refused to accept defeat short of being completely and utterly destroyed as a city and a people, so after having their main armies in Italy completely crushed, they just dug in and worked all that much harder to rebuild their troop strength and figure out just how to beat Hannibal. Any other nation would have called it quits instead.

Carthage's big problem, militarily, was that while their armies could be very formidable once properly trained and under solid leadership(Hannibal, for example), they usually weren't well lead or trained, and so didn't fight as a very cohesive or disciplined force. Plus they were very frail in that it took a lot longer to rebuild and reform into a combat-capable unit after being defeated. Roman armies were a lot quicker and easier to assemble and make combat-capable, and their average leaders were at least as good if not somewhat better than their average Carthaginian counterparts. That, and the roman heavy infantry, the legions, kicked ass.
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#11 - Bulldog - 05/02/04 @ 01:34 AM EST
I hate history.
Who needs it i am teh ignorant american redneckzor!
#12 - sweetjimmy - 05/02/04 @ 11:33 AM EST
...carthage was larger than rome, though, right? Before the first punic war, I mean... perhaps I mistook larger for meaning more powerful as well.

the article I read made it seem like carthage was the primary power of the mediterranean; especially in regard to its navy. and that they had land all through north africa and up into spain. guess i need to start reading multiple sources. Don't blame my mistakes on this game. While I'm sure NotRE has historical errors, that's not where I got my information from on the Punic Wars.Last Edited on 05/02/04 @ 11:35 AM EST
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#13 - ZiggY - 05/02/04 @ 12:57 PM EST
Well, before the first war, Carthage WAS a big trading power all over the Med. They had holdings in Spain, and pretty much controlled both Sicily and Sardinia. And their navy WAS a dominant force, being fairly large and well trained. Actually, almost all of the largest, most important battles were fought at sea between Carthaginian and Roman fleets- if sources are to be trusted, one of those battles was the largest single naval battle EVER fought.

So no jimmy, that wasn't necessarily an innacurate statement to say that Carthage was more powerful, at least going into the first war. As with most things, it's just that the truth is a *little* more complicated than that.
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#14 - Ram - 05/03/04 @ 02:02 AM EST
Way to go Sweetmoron! My kid failed his history test because of your crappy article. :)
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#15 - sweetjimmy - 05/03/04 @ 09:24 AM EST
gamegossip: Making Ram's kid fail history since 2001.
#16 - Oberiko - 05/03/04 @ 09:36 AM EST
You are right in saying that Carthage had a more powerful navy at the start of the First Punic War. They had a larger fleet and largely Greek sailors (who were considered the best).

The Romans, being better on land then sea, decided to make the naval battles more infantry oriented. They used a corvus to essentially pull the ships together whereby their soldiers would fairly easily slaughter the other ships crew.

Of course, alot of it again was due to Rome's ability to absorb massive casualties and yet still continue to produce more soldiers and ships.Last Edited on 05/03/04 @ 09:39 AM EST
#17 - ZiggY - 05/03/04 @ 01:32 PM EST
Exactly. Any other nation at the time, after suffering the losses Rome did in some of its defeats, would have given up and sued for peace- for most nations at the time, war was a limited thing with limited goals. But for the Romans, war ended with either total victory, or total defeat.

Oberiko, are you by any chance a history student? Or are you just a big fan of/td>
#18 - Oberiko - 05/03/04 @ 08:11 PM EST
I'm just a fan of history in general, Rome (the republic) and WWII being my favorite epochs.

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