Zeus: Master of Olympus Review

Impressions has made a reputation for itself with its line of ancient city building games. First there was the Caesar series which focused on the Roman Empire. Next they turned their attention to Ancient Egypt with Pharaoh and its expansion game, Cleopatra. Now Impressions takes you to Ancient Greece in their latest game, Zeus: Master of Olympus. Does this game bring anything new to the series, or is it just a rehash of the prior games with Greek looking graphics? The answer is a little of both.

For those of you who have played Caesar or Pharaoh, Zeus will appear to be somewhat familiar to you. For those new to the game, it is a city building and management game that puts you in control of a city in the ancient world. You must manage your city's economy, defense, and aesthetics, all while defending it from invading armies, marauding monsters, and angry gods.

While there are many things you must manage for your city, the economic model lies at the heart of the game. In order to run a successful city, you must ensure that raw materials are getting to your production centers, that their goods are being delivered to the storehouses, that shops are available to sell the goods, and finally that there are enough people living in your city to do all this. Phew!

To ensure that you do indeed have plenty of people around to run your city, you must provide them with a pleasant place to live - somewhere that is clean, safe, and sanitary, provides the necessary shops and services to conduct daily life, and has plenty of places for entertainment and recreation. Of course, to build all of these things you must have plenty of money, which you get from a well-run economy...

At least your city does not find itself in complete isolation from the world, and you can establish trade routes with your neighbors to exchange resources and produce. This comes in handy when you find yourself lacking some critical resource or when you'd like to add a steady income stream to your treasury.

Those familiar with Impressions earlier games may be thinking that this game sounds a lot like Caesar and Pharaoh. In truth, fans of Caesar or Pharaoh can just jump right in and start playing without much trouble at all. So what makes Zeus different other than Greek looking buildings? Well, in the prior games, the local deities had a minor effect on the game, requiring you to pay them just enough attention to keep them from reducing your harvest or some such similar thing. In Zeus, however, anger one of the gods and he/she just might pay a visit to your city to wreck a little divine havoc. Not only can the gods be a nuisance (or a benefit, depending on whether or not you've pleased them, but you'll have to contend with mythical beasts and epic heroes as well. In Zeus they are all quite real and can have a direct effect on your city's success or failure.