PC software: Praetorians

Developed by Spain-based Pyro Studios, which is also responsible for the popular Commandos series, Praetorians follows the usual RTS mould but also exhibits some features of a different style of gameplay.

Praetorians (the name) derives from the elite Roman guards and is just one of 13 army unit types you can chose to play the game. Given the choice to command the Egyptians, the Romans or the Gauls, you must work through 24 different missions on your way to becoming a superpower. Each of the different forces has unique war machines, special forces and structures, so different tactics are needed for the individual units — their strengths and weaknesses definitely play a large part in mission success. A large fold-out comes bundled with the title, giving quick-and-easy reference for the different types of soldiers within the forces.

Graphically, the title has some nice animated battle scenes and showcases the lush surrounding environment (see here for a screenshot). Although its quality does not match Microsoft’s Age of Mythology, it can still hold its own among the RTS titles available. Some of the character modelling, however, looks a little unimaginative: most of the soldiers within a division look and act the same way, and really don’t have any standout features.

There is a tutorial available for gamers who haven’t played an RTS title before but seasoned veterans should skip right past this and jump straight into the game. In the multiplayer stakes, up to eight players can compete online via GameSpy in a ‘winner takes all’ battle. The multiplayer levels are very fast paced, so gamers will need to have plenty of practice in the single-player levels before tackling some of the online levels.

Praetorians doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre, offering a generic type of gameplay. It does shy away from the more tedious side of resource management and attempts to focus more on the battle and strategic side of the skirmish. This allows players to outwit and outmanoeuvre each other in a chess-like game instead of trying to beat each other to a bloody pulp. If you enjoy titles that thrust you into the heat of battle and challenge you mentally, and you are a fan of the era of the all-conquering Romans, this game is for you.

Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Pyro Studios
URL: www.praetoriansgame.com

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