PC REVIEW: TIN SOLDIERS: JULIUS CAESAR

Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar is a turn-based game fashioned after those nerdy miniatures, complete with painted figurines and scenery on a stick. The cheesy look of the game betrays the depth and fun that can be had if you're into strategy games. The great thing about this computer-simulated miniatures game is that you don't have to put all the little pieces away when you're done for the night.

There's no denying that tabletop miniatures games is the domain of nerds but the Tin Soldiers series is really cool. It's a bit slow in execution but it allows you time to react properly and really hone your strategy skills. You can play against the AI or another human. The computer plays a relatively conservative game and seldom makes a blunder. It may kick your ass for a while but it's a great teacher if you learn from your ass kicking.

Playing against another human can be done online but it will require an IP address since there isn't a dedicated server. This can kind of limit your access to people especially if you're the paranoid type that holes up in your apartment on weekends, afraid to even start a conversation with the pizza deliver guy.

With the Julius Caesar version you will re-fight historic battles during the reign of the Roman Empire. There are numerous troops to choose from, all historically accurate for the time period. Commands are easily facilitated by the onscreen interface which displays all the information that you need at a glance.

Commands are issued by both players at the same time. It takes a while for the system to respond and display the results. More commands can be given at the halfway point which allows you to respond to the situation created by your opponent's tactics. You can reorganize specific units if they were forced to go somewhere else. Troops can even be kept in reserve at the start of the commands and put into use in the middle. This is a tactic favored by the computer and one that you should emulate.

There's no annoying micromanagement to worry about. You will have to consider your army's morale but you can improve that by playing a good strategic game. The Campaign mode is where you'll find the most depth although you can just play one match at a time if you don't want to commit a weekend to a virtual war. There are various missions to perform in the Campaign mode. You can purchase and train troops with Victory points that you earn from completing previous missions. There are cards called Strategy cards which will give you a special boost but they can only be used one time and they're not anything like a Gamebreaker or screen-clearing move. They are more subtle.

Julius Caesar isn't a looker. Although it's not supposed to look real, it does tend to look like a cross between a game of chess and a model railroad scene. The closer you zoom in the uglier it gets. The music is good and the sound effects are decent. The game plays very well, so everything above and beyond that is icing on the cake.

Tin Soldiers: Julius Caesar lets the little nerd in you run free without the possibility of getting caught and pigeonholed for life. Just remember to hide the lightsaber under the cough when company drops in.

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System: PC
Dev: Koios Works
Pub: Matrix
Release: April 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
4.0