Rome wasn't built in a day. Setting the vast empire's boundaries took centuries of war, and at times strong foes and political wrangling seriously threatened the burgeoning republic. In an attempt to capture these dual challenges, Pax Romana ambitiously aims to combine the sort of strategic conquest common to many games with a detailed modeling of the Roman republic's inner political workings. At its best, the political model provides some insight into the inertia that can keep a great militaristic nation from expanding and also makes for a much-deserved distraction from the task of pushing legions around the map to put down rebellions and gobble up minor nations. But as intriguing as this design concept may sound, the convoluted interface is difficult to learn and navigate, bogs the political and economic game down in details, and hardly glues the political and strategic halves of the game together. And then there are the technical glitches and poorly executed graphics to deal with. The end result falls far short of being an enjoyable game.
Lead the Roman republic to ever greater conquests--if you can get elected.
The box proudly declares that the game is "From the creators of Europa Universalis," and whatever the details of this connection, Pax Romana's strategic approach is undeniably inspired by Paradox's ambitious historical games. As in Europa Universalis, the map is quite large and covered with dozens and dozens of competing nations--many of which have but a territory or two and can hardly field a defensive army. Rome has just a couple of historical foes that can stand up to its legions. With the real-time engine counting the days away, you might move armies around the map, adjust administrative and economic settings, raise new forces, engage in diplomacy, and go on the campaign trail. But with Pax Romana's modeling of internal politics, just because you could theoretically make the moves to lead Rome to glory doesn't mean that you yourself will actually call the shots. Specific leaders assume responsibility for each of these tasks, and unless your faction's men are in positions of leadership, your role is limited to watching others make the big decisions.