Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar PC CD-ROM
Published by Matrix Games
Developed by Koios Works
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £21.99 (£16.99 for a Digital Download)
Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar, an introduction.
Having just looked at the first game in the Tin Soldiers series, it's now time to look at the second one. History buffs will know that the Romans were so impressed with the Greeks that they took many of their ideals and concepts and enhanced them. It's rather fitting then that Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar has been built upon the successful framework of Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great. Most of the niggles we had with TS: ATG have been ironed out in Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar and its altogether a better experience.
What's the game about?
This time it's your turn to play through some Roman history and take Caesar through some of the classic battles. You'll take part in Caesar's pacification of Gaul, the Battle of Alesia and Civil War. Battles are located in places that range from Britain to Egypt. In short it's memorable stuff for fans of Roman history. The heart of the game is the campaign mode but there is also a battle mode that allows you to take part in one-off battles. Multiplayer options are rather lacking though and simply give you the chance to take on one human opponent.
What's good about the game?
We covered the battle system in our review of Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great so there's no need to go into detail about that here. Naturally you'll find a few Roman specific additions such as the Turtle Formation strategy card but the basic battle system is essentially the same which is no bad thing as it's a system that works really well. There have been some rather significant improvements made in Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar so let's concentrate on those.
On entering the campaign you'll notice the first major improvement. TS: Alexander the Great had only one difficulty level and the campaign scenarios had to be completed in a linear fashion. The campaign mode in TS: Julius Caesar is much improved. To begin with you have a choice of three difficulty levels which makes the game more accommodating to the less experienced strategy gamers out there. More importantly the campaign doesn't force you down a specific path. The campaign, as we mentioned earlier, has three parts to it. Aside from the Battle of Alesia (the second part) you'll be able to choose the order of your battles. When you attempt to pacify Gaul and during the Civil War you'll have a choice of scenarios and you can pick what you want. To further the game you have to have earned enough prestige in the Senate. Caesar will gain one rank of prestige for a minor victory whilst a major victory will yield two ranks of prestige. Once enough prestige has been earned the Battle of Alesia will commence and after this has been successfully completed the Civil War will take place. This is a much better way of organising a campaign and it makes the game feel less frustrating. You'll also notice that the battle mode now allows you to play any scenario without having to first unlock them in the campaign mode. If you fancy just jumping into Cleopatra's Civil War or The African War before you tackle the campaign you can go right ahead and do that.
Naturally with the game having a Roman theme it's bound to get compared with Rome: Total War. In many ways they are very different games but comparing the battles in RTW with those in TS: JC shows that this game is the choice for those gamers who want a more authentic feel to their battles. It's great to see the AI actually appearing to think about its tactics. Many a time I thought I was on the verge of victory only to succumb to a great tactical move from the AI that exposed my tactics for the flawed efforts they were. In RTW I've seen the AI make blunders all too often that's left a gaping hole in their defences. What's more, even though the battles are more drawn out affairs in TS: JC, I've found them to be thoroughly engaging. Even when I've lost for the umpteenth time I still feel the experience has been very satisfactory. Long may this battle system continue.
What's not so good about the game?
To be truthful it's a shame that the multiplayer is still so lacklustre. Basically the games are 2-player head-to-head battles. You have to connect to each other's IP Address. There's no browser to arrange battles or other such conveniences that we take for granted these days. Whilst it's better to have a basic multiplayer mode than none at all it's still shame that a more comprehensive multiplayer mode hasn't been included. What I would have liked to have seen in Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar is the ability to play as the opposing armies rather than just the Romans in the Battle mode. Taking control of the enemy armies would have given variation to the game and would have increased the replay value of the Battle mode.
How does it look?
Like Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great before it, Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar manages to capture the tabletop wargaming feel. Your units look just like wargaming miniatures, the various objects such as trees and buildings etc. all look like those found in tabletop battles and it really adds to the charm of the game. TS: JC looks better than TS: ATG. The game manages to take advantage of your 3D card and you'll notice that units now cast shadows and look better when zoomed in upon. You can rotate the battle scenes and change the angle of view which is a nice touch as it allows you to view the battle from different perspectives. A lot of the game menus and screens look much better than in TS: ATG. It was also great to see that the game supports the TFT resolution of 1280x1024 as it makes everything look crisper. In fact there's even support for a widescreen resolutions which is great to see.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
There are no problems for deaf gamers with Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar. The intro to the campaign is simply some rolling text rather than the movie clip that was present in Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great. As before all information is shown in text. Objectives and victory point requirements are shown in text and can be recalled at any time. Floating text shows status effects such as 'shaken' or 'routed'. Once again the manual is first class and leaves no stone unturned which is great to see. Suffice to say then that deaf gamers will have no problems with Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar.
There's little doubt that Koios have successfully built upon the solid foundations they created with Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great. In Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar we have a game that's more polished and a better experience all round. It's not perfect of course and the multiplayer element in particular needs improving for further games (of which I'm hoping there are many). However, even as it stands, Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar is a great turn-based strategy game with a great AI that will keep you challenged for months to come. For fans of tabletop wargaming, turn-based strategy games or history buffs it's a must and well worth the asking price.
Overall Game Rating: 8.9/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar manages to improve upon Tin Soldiers: Alexander the Great in almost every area. Rome Total War may be the Roman strategy game of choice at the moment but the battles in that game just can't compete with those in Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar. Once again the AI provides a great challenge and strategy fans will love spending night after night trying to outwit such an impressive opponent.