Admittedly, I've never really been a fan of city-building games, so bear that in mind while reading my experiences with Caesar IV. Though I have always been a fan of history, discovering how Tilted Mill managed to recreate the thriving empire which was once Rome seemed all too interesting to pass up. Simulation games such as these have been rolling in on the PC for what seems like forever now, and it's been more than several years since Caesar III, so it's gratifying to know that there's still room for some new in this very old tale of building an empire from the ground up.
The main core of a simulation game has always been its ability to pull the player in with all of its inner workings (the society, its growth as well as economy). Building an empire is no different and that's the most enjoyable part of Caesar IV. You're given complete liberty to make your cities however you see fit, while still following a few of the simple objectives handed to you by your council. Every now and then, you'll be prompted to construct or pave several necessary foundations to keep up with the needs and trends of your city. It can be anything from building a better irrigation system to constructing a port, but it all manages to carry itself well into your mindless town building.
The main core of a simulation game has always been its ability to pull the player in with all of its inner workings (the society, its growth as well as economy). Building an empire is no different and that's the most enjoyable part of Caesar IV.
As most sim-fans can claim, it's the attention to every minor detail that makes the experience so engrossing. Civilians can make requests of their not being enough food, jobs or cultural entertainment available, where you then have to take it upon yourself to fill in those needs. Don't, and it will lead to an unhappy group of townspeople and a very cranky council on your case. Your council is also another matter that you have to keep in check. Each is a specialist with their own complaints and recommendations. You can still manage to do well bringing up a city without entirely listening in to their advice, though it is a welcome help to see exactly what you have to do in each sector to keep your people happy.
It would have been a real shame if Caesar IV looked like anything close to its eight year old predecessor Caesar III, but thankfully, the newer title looks beautiful and is presented in full 3D. It looks phenomenal. Although running the game on a 1.6 Ghz with half a gig of RAM could be considered fair, its really when you fire this beauty up on a powerhouse that the game's graphic engine really shines. Textures on every building, ship, and landscape are finely detailed and have a nice polished look to them. The level of detail is just one of the factors that make any achievements in Caesar IV feel all the more worthwhile.
Rome was never known to be quite the nicest of empires, though (what with them always requesting resources out of you and your city). It gets a tad annoying and the economy system isn't really perfect, but for a sim game that series fans have been waiting eight years for, it's worth a try. Gaius Julius Caesar may have never played a video game, but faced with a choice between this game and being murdered by your own political peers, this is might be the more attractive way to given ancient Rome.