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ASP Software Ltd
P. Rawling
1984
Strategy: War
£6.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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101,102
Chris Bourne

This strategy game is set in the period starting from 395 AD, the moment when the sweeping pressure of the barbarian tribes finally forced the Roman Empire to its knees. The object of the game is to see whether, by skill and manipulation of the forces at your command, you can alter the events of history and maintain Rome as a great empire. The Fall of Rome is for one player against the computer.

All the events take place on a map of Europe which is divided by red border lines into the various provinces. At the start of the game you are shown those which are under Rome's control.

Playing is split into three distinct phases. During the first you are asked to create and move your forces province by province and any money balances left over. Your military forces are split into Mobile and Static legions, Cavalry units and Auxiliaries. You are allowed to create one mobile legion per province per tum if you have sufficient funds. Static legions are converted from mobile ones but, once converted, may not be changed back. Again, depending on funds, you may create cavalry or auxiliary units in a strict ratio to the number of mobiles in the province. If any money is left over, it may be moved to one of the adjacent provinces indicated on the map where it may do more than leaving it where it is.

The second phase is the movement part of the game. Here you are asked how many mobile legions you wish to move, again, province by province. The same goes for cavalry and auxiliaries if there are any present. With each province, the map will indicate the possible destinations of the movement.

The third, or attack phase, shows you how many enemy tribes there are in the various provinces where Roman military forces have been moved, and it gives their varying strengths. You are allowed to attack one enemy per province per move. The computer calculates the result based on enemy strengths and Roman forces available, this completes a turn and one turn represents five years. At the commencement of the second turn you can see how well you have done, where you have hung on and where you have lost control.

CRITICISM

'The Fall of Rome is quite playable but it misses the quality that makes adventures, strategies and some arcade games good, the quality of making the player believe he is in the situation depicted by the computer. The graphics aren't bad, but a game about the fall of Rome doesn't need graphics - after all, adventures and strategies are in the mind of the player.'

'I'm a little surprised at Argus for their covers on these games. Nowhere does it state which computer the game is for, although there are obviously several versions available, and yet inside on the inlay it states that you should check on the cover carefully to see if you have the right version for your computer! The instructions are reasonably comprehensive and the game is easy to handle after a few minutes' playing. The map is well generated and the included insert showing the names of provinces is useful- it doesn't, however, tie up fully with the map on the screen which is confusing when you want to move troops into unoccupied areas. The element of strategy is interesting when replaying real history, even within the confines of what is a very limited amount of memory for this type of game. I found coping with troop movements was easy and interesting for a while, but this is not a fully blown strategy war game and it therefore has its limitations. It also lacks something in 'atmosphere'. 'There is undoubtedly a major war game yet to be written along these lines. It seems a pity that on the whole most clever or sophisticated programmers want to work on more glamorous projects than war strategy games. The Fall of Rome is quite educational, a reasonable amount of fun at first, but not really exciting enough in the end to appeal all that widely.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: general input of figures or first three letters of a province
Keyboard play: a user-friendly program with good error trapping
Responses: the BASIC program works with commendable speed and computer assessment time is kept to a minimum
Use of colour: sensible rather than exciting
Graphics: very good map, clear display
Sound: poor
Skill levels: 1
General Rating: For strategy fans and younger players this could be worthwhile, as there is a fair amount to handle. Overall on the average side.

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