iPad App Review: Roads of Rome

Geek Culture

Roads of Rome valley screenRoads of Rome valley screen

"My Valley" screen in Roads of Rome.

With my recent move, I had to pack up all of my board games and nearly all of my books (along with my computer), so my iPad was my primary source of entertainment for a few weeks. (Plus most of my board games are still in boxes as I type this.) Roads of Rome HD is one of the games that has been keeping me occupied in between unpacking boxes and rearranging furniture, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

Roads of Rome HD is a mixture of strategy, time management, and resource management. It was originally a PC game, though I hadn’t heard of it until this version. The premise is sort of funny (and not entirely necessary to the game): you are Victorius, a Roman general who has won many victories for Caesar, and you’re in love with his daughter Julia. Caesar, though, will have none of this but doesn’t want to risk losing a great general. So he decides to give you a difficult task to keep you busy: road construction.

What this boils down to, gameplay-wise, is that you’re in charge of some workers who build the road. When you first start out, there aren’t many actions: you can build some road, or chop down trees to get more wood for the road. As you progress through the levels, though, you’ll need to clear fallen trees from the path, collect food so the workers have energy for other tasks, and build bridges across gaps. Later levels introduce other features you can build, like a sawmill that produces wood or a farm that produces food. Upgrading features produces more resources, and upgrading your camp gives you more workers so you can accomplish tasks more quickly.

Roads of Rome screenRoads of Rome screen

Each of the 40 levels has some goals attached — all will include finishing the road, but sometimes you’ll need to collect a specific amount of gold or crystals, or explore caves. Do everything before nightfall and you get the expert ranking, but be sure to finish all the tasks before time runs out or you fail the level.

The earlier levels are pretty simple and you won’t have any trouble passing them with plenty of time to spare. As you get farther along, though, you’ll have a lot more choices to make: do you build the sawmill first or the farm? Do you mine for gold or chop down some trees? Which features should you upgrade first? It’s a balancing act to get everything accomplished in the allotted time, and it may take you a few tries to figure out the best balance of resources.

Roads of Rome screenshotRoads of Rome screenshot

The graphics are really gorgeous and the animation of the little workers is fun to watch, although I did wish at times that there was a fast-forward button for when I got to the final few tasks. Also, unlike some time-management games, you can’t tap on anything that needs to be done until there are free workers back at the camp. So I can’t just tap things and expect the workers to go do them when they get back to camp automatically — I need to actually send them out in real time. That took a little getting used to. I did find that sometimes things were a little imprecise, like trying to pick up some wood at the sawmill but it didn’t quite register my tap.

Overall, though, I’ve gotten a lot of play out of Roads of Rome, and I’ve still got a few levels left where I haven’t achieved expert ranking yet. As I’ve said before, I’m fond of time-management games, but this one is interesting because there’s also the resource aspect to it. The levels are divided up into four worlds, each with its own terrain and types of tasks. Each world ends with a simple jewel-matching mini game (which I didn’t really care for much). If you like time-management games and real-time strategy, check out Roads of Rome. It’s available for $2.99 in the iTunes store.

Here’s a trailer for the game which shows you some of the graphics and different landscapes:

Disclosure: GeekDad received a free download for review purposes.

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