Even with a cool new Latinized name, Imperium Romanum is pretty much the exact same game as Glory of the Roman Empire, which came, saw, and inspired a thousand yawns back in 2006. This carbon copy also has tougher problems to deal with than simply ripping off a two-year-old snoozer that nobody much cared for, since a legion of bugs leave the game stuck somewhere between "unstable" and "God help you."
And that last sentence isn't hyperbole. In its launch state, Imperium Romanum is virtually unplayable. Crashes are so commonplace that it's almost impossible to get through a scenario without the game hard-locking your system and forcing a reboot. Any sort of monkeying around with the default graphical settings tends to make matters much worse. Turn on antialiasing or anisotropic filtering, for example, or dial up shadows and grass detail, and chances are pretty good that the game will freeze before you even make it to a scenario loading screen. You're really going to want to crank up the graphics, too, because it will seem like you're viewing the game through a screen door at the default 1024x768 resolution and lowball detail settings. It doesn't take much fiddling for the game to go boom, either. Sometimes it crashes on interface menu screens that are just displays of text and a few static pictures. These bugs are depressingly common, if the posts at the developer's official forum are any indication. Haemimont is promising to release a patch in the near future, but really, this game never should have been shipped in such an rickety condition in the first place.
City building like grandma used to make.
Even if you can keep Imperium Romanum up and running, you're not going to experience anything that you haven't encountered many times before. As noted off the top, this is really just a refined take on Glory of the Roman Empire, with an improved 3D engine and more Rome-specific civilizational touches. But the overall design still feels phoned in. There is no formal campaign, for instance, just an historical timeline mode where you gradually proceed through scenarios from key moments in Roman history. You start off with just Rome in 509 BC, Rome in 146 BC, and Pompeii in 70 BC (although this should actually be AD 70, as that's when Mount Vesuvius blew its top and buried the provincial town in ash), with success in each mission unlocking around a dozen further stops along a timeline that ranges all the way from the birth of Rome to the second century AD. The actual history represented in these scenarios is awfully skimpy, however, so you'll really only get anything out of them if you're already familiar with ancient Rome and know what events the dates represent. The only other mode of play is a sandbox mode that takes you to rough approximations of famous Roman cities like Thessalonica and Caesarea. It's equally light on history, with terrain being the only real links between these simulated cities and their ancient inspirations.
Gameplay doesn't provide much in the way of an ancient history lesson, either. It doesn't appear as though Haemimont is very concerned with history--or spell-checking, for that matter, given how you're called a "Preator" all through the tutorial. You're really playing a stereotypical city builder with some Roman-inspired visuals, not a Roman city builder. So you build the standard-issue town with the expected town center, the de rigeur houses, the usual barracks and stables, and the rather familiar flax and pig farms. None of these buildings look particularly Roman, just vaguely ancient in a generic style. All share so many similar characteristics that it's hard to tell a villa from a tavern at any distance. Resources are standard for this sort of game, too, with you gathering timber, stone, meat, wine, and so forth. Combat is just as basic, in that you occasionally have to raise armies of soldiers, archers, and cavalry to beat down pesky barbarians.