Although it sounds like one, Zeus: Master of Olympus isn't strictly a god game in that you don't actually play as a god. However, as in most building games, you do control your workers and soldiers, decide where to build and so on. Naturally, the object of the game is to build up the biggest, most powerful city state, knocking out or weakening your neighbours until you control all of ancient Greece.
Unlike previous games in the series, though, you don't have to do it all on your own. You can enlist the help of the gods. 12 of them in all, ranging from Zeus, the most powerful of all, down to Aphrodite, Poseidon and Apollo. These gods will appear in your city in human form and, while they can be right royal pains, battling with each other in the streets and flattening buildings in the process, you can curry favour with them by building temples dedicated to their worship. You'll be rewarded in different ways by different gods. Ares, for instance, will fight alongside your army if he likes you and, if not, he'll send a huge dragon to make unpleasant things happen to your city and its citizens. Hades will help boost your silver production, but will also send a Cerberus if you get on the wrong side of him. And a Cerberus is bad news...
The trouble is you can only build temples for four of the gods in your city, so you need to play diplomatically. The other gods will send creatures such as Scylla, a minotaur or a medusa, but there's another way to fight back. Once you've built a hall of heroes, you'll be able to summon them to defend your city. Each of the six heroes can defeat two of the nasties, but they'll only put in an appearance provided you've completed certain tasks.
Impressions is aiming for more simplified gameplay in Zeus than in its earlier release Pharaoh. For example, while you'll have to build roads first and then add houses, you'll no longer have to have an unobstructed road from house to building to ensure the building is staffed correctly. As long as you have enough houses and workers in your city, the building will function.
Several short scenarios will be included, each under an hour long yet still contributing to the end result. You'll be able to build huge Greek monuments one piece at a time and there will be a simpler but more varied range of building types. There'll even be a stadium, where you can train athletes and hold your own Olympic games.
Although building and resource management will still play an important part in Zeus. Impressions wants players to focus as much on events in the world around them as they do on the city, something that should add plenty of imagination and depth to an already popular genre. There's even a chance it will appear before Christmas...
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP