It lets the player build Roman buildings through the eyes of a governor, and has 75 building types. Unlike the Caesar or Civilization games, there are no different classes of citizens like equites, plebs, or patricians, but instead the citizen's level is determined by housing, not the other way around. Housing increases as needs are met by different resources and services. A citizen sprite in CivCity: Rome represents 100 citizens. Jobs are filled by building a building, and waiting for a vagrant, or jobless immigrant to arrive for work. A special feature allows the player to adjust work time and leisure time, allowing the workers to go to their homes and improve their housing levels by attending meat shops, tunic shops, etc. Higher level citizens can buy slaves to attend to their houses and gather commodities to meet their housing needs. However, the level of housing also changes the citizen as it improves; a goat farmer would cease to be a goat farmer if his house improves into a mansion, and would seek a post as a doctor.
Citizens can get married by visiting temples. This allows them to improve their housing and starts families with children as well. The housing levels are: shack, hovel, insula, palace. As the level of housing improves, so does the tax collected by the citizens living there. If there are no houses, citizens will sleep on the floor when not at work.
Roads are not necessary for the game, but vastly speed up citizen movement.
The campaign has the player building and developing cities in the Roman empire. As the game progresses, the title of the governor would improve until the office of consul. At a certain point in the game, the player can choose to embark on a military campaign, or continue building cities for economic growth. The economic missions have higher and harder requirements, but there is no threat of military invasion.
Some criticisms of the game include poor graphics, easy gameplay, and other small bugs or criticisms. A house has a small radius which determines how far the resident would walk to gather resources to improve his home, like visiting butcher shops. The small radius requires extra planning when laying houses, or building several more shops. Other criticisms are lack of depth, as the most complicated process only requires three buildings. The game also comes under fire for inaccuracies or deviations from previous games in that citizens don't immigrate to the city based on a food surplus, rather they come based on city popularity, and vagrants have to be fed.
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