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Posted on Mar 20, 2005 in Electronic Games

Fall of Rome Online – Game Review (PC)

Armchair General


Every time a player logs into Fall of Rome, their PC will automatically begin to download the latest game files. I must confess to a slight feeling of trepidation when I discovered that this was to be the case as I can categorically state without fear of contradiction that I have the slowest and most unreliable Internet connection on the planet Earth (!). But I need not have worried. In each instance, downloading the latest information only ever took me a maximum of twenty minutes. I suspect that Broadband users will probably not even notice a delay, but dial-up users obviously will have to wait. However, if I can play this game over my unstable connection – there’s no reason why anyone reading this should be put off by this aspect of the game.


The game uses a Java script, which opens in its own window and several buttons along the top of the display allow a player to control various aspects of the game. I will deal with the most important of these in the sections that follow, however by using these buttons it is possible to see lists of all known towns and cities (including those under your control) and any improvements they have had added to them, along with complete lists of your Characters (see below) and Legions, plus a summary of your economic production. You can even talk to your fellow players – make deals with them, declare war, or, as I did, announce to all and sundry that you expect a tribute by morning.

Controlling your economy is also possible through use of these buttons. Your economy is, of course, the lynchpin of any campaign and it’s broken down into two aspects – Supplies and Gold. If you find yourself running short of Gold, you will come unstuck very quickly as you won’t be able to build new structures or pay for your Army. However, one can be traded for the other and by using this method, it’s possible to keep things ticking over. I was, of course, totally useless at this aspect of the game as I was more concerned with betraying and back-stabbing everyone in sight whilst manoeuvring my Legions into position. As a result, I failed dismally on all fronts and by the time I found myself in a total war against an enemy who completely outclassed me in every category, it was too late to correct the situation. Although my game has yet to finish, I don’t see my dreams of conquest being much more than that. In summary – you need to watch your economic output and expenditure!


Once in the game, the main map is presented to you. There are several different ways to display the map. This is the primary Strategic View. Note the buttons at the top of the screen and the turn details to the top right.

This is the alternate Strategic view which strips out some of the detail and shows just the towns and villages. This can be useful once the area is swarming with troops and characters all doing the bidding of their masters. As whole regions come under the control of various players, they change colour to show their political affiliation.

Here is the main map, which is scrollable up and down and from side to side. From here players can select their towns and cities for closer view. At the beginning of a game, each player has two of each, and within these settlements can be found the main Characters, Agents and Legions.


Characters are powerful figures that will perform many important tasks during the game. Beginning with the King, Characters include Princes, Priestesses, Dukes, Governors and Ambassadors, all of whom have unique capabilities. The Priestess, for example, can be used to bless or heal friendly units, or she can use divination to locate unusual objects in a given area. Other Characters can be sent on special missions to convert people to your will, usurp the control of others, obtain information about other civilisations and generally act as your local representative.

The King himself is displayed on his own screen. Here’s my King in all his glory.

Here’s one of my Dukes and a menu showing some of the missions he can undertake. Essentially, he can be used to usurp control of neutral or opposing settlements to convert them to your side, to incite rebellions or to maintain control on behalf of the King. Depending on the activities of opposing nations, these missions will not always be successful.

Agents are a type of Character, but their missions are more, ahem, sinister. Agents can be sent to spy on enemies, assassinate other Characters or even steal gold from enemy storehouses. As with the Characters, their missions are not guaranteed to succeed. In fact, the chances of success depend to a large degree on how experienced the Agent is. Consider it this way – Agents can die on missions, but if they succeed, they become more experienced and more deadly. Top level spies can become your ultimate weapons.

And here is the town that was my Capital – seen as it was at the very start of the game. As you can see, there are a number of buildings, a defensive wall and some Characters inside the wall. Outside are my Legions of troops.

Right-clicking on each of these elements brings up a menu. Clicking on a building allows you to construct city improvements including such structures as Temples, Storehouses, Mills, Watch Towers and Fortresses. Each type of building costs a certain amount of Gold to build. Clicking on a character allows you to send them on missions and a similar thing applies to your Legions.

Here’s one of my faithful Legions with another menu. As with Characters and Agents, Legions can be sent on various missions, ranging from scouting missions to outright assaults on enemy settlements. Alternately, they can hold fast and be directed to defend against enemy Legions known to be in the area. When a battle is called for, contextual menus allow you to select the strategy adopted by your troops – e.g., a direct assault, probe or a flank attack.

And here are the results of my first move. I elected to send an Ambassador to the nearest neutral town to convert the population to my will, a Duke to another and to dispatch two of my finest Legions to conquer something nice and shiny. Oh if only it were that easy…

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