Aggressors: Ancient Rome is an interesting game. If you’re anything like me then you probably enjoyed the Civilization series of games. You probably also thought to yourself “The gameplay is fun, and Gandhi with nuclear weapons is funny, but I’d love this gameplay in something as historically accurate as the Total War games.” Well, here you go, a Civ style 4X game but with historical accuracy to the Rise of Rome era and the Mediterranean theater of war and politics.
The gameplay, graphics, a lot of it is very similar to the games Civ 4 and 5. Everything good about them and everything bad. Let’s start with the positives.
Historical accuracy? In general the more you know about history the better. The gameplay itself doesn’t teach history, just starts with the initial conditions and you are best off making peace and starting wars in the same order the Romans did. If playing as another faction, such as The Celts, you also want to stick to their strategy and for the same reasons. The Celts start off with the least power of any faction, and if you play it right you can help bring about the Fall of Rome in the late game.
The gameplay also induces good old “one more turn” syndrome. You keep making progress in little steps and you keep wanting to see what happens next. Deciding which little improvements to make and building decent economy and infrastructure is key, as it should be in this style of game. Also, as it should be for the Roman era of warfare, road building to get troops and trade moving quickly and safely is also a major part of the game.
Now, the cons. This game really seems like a game from the early 2000s in a bad way. The UI is not very intuitive and a lot of modern UI design is missing. The models, animations, all of it is simple and can invoke nostalgia but it also looks outdated despite being a recent release. The sound is almost all publicly available assets and not all of it is appropriate placed. One of the military unit attack call outs is an “Are you ready” with crowd noise and drumsticks from a modern rock concert clearly heard in the background.
All in all, this game was released in 2018 and seems like it came right out of 2002, flaws and all. That might be exactly what you want, you might find it charming. If back then you played Civ and Total War and wanted their best aspects combined than you’ll want to try this game. Once you get used to the old style UI and get over the flat, monotone, phone menu voices of your worker units, you’ll discover you lost 5 hours to this game and don’t want to stop.
In summary, fun game for Civ fans and history fans, lots of old flaws. I like it.