I regularly return to most of the city builders made by Impression Games including, of course, Pharaoh and Cleopatra . Each time, I wonder if there is any chance of a remaster of all the productions in the series. They are still very playable and visually appealing (at least to me), but upgrading the resolution was mandatory to say the least – and mods offered only a rudimentary solution.
Fortunately, some fans did have the right skills to make the dreams of remaking these classics come true. The experience gained while creating Lethis – Path of Progress has now sprouted. Pharaoh: A New Era is what I personally expect from a good remake: refined visuals, more resolutions, and numerous gameplay improvements , which we'll get to in a moment. Of course, it's not perfect and some aspects could be improved. Still, it was a splendid opportunity to rediscover this timeless classic.
- The graphics perfectly imitate the original
- Music creates the right atmosphere
- Possibility to disable recruiters
- The good, old Pharaoh
- No name list when creating a profile
- Slow camera movement
- Interface needs minor improvements
- Quest objective bar could be moved to scenario description
New Pharaoh stays loyal to its pedigree
When I hear "remake," I always approach the subject with caution. You never know if the creators won't decide to add too many new ideas , as if they were trying to prove they know better than the original creators what the game should look like. Fortunately, in the case of Pharaoh, the developers from Triskell Interactive approached the subject with due respect and care. They did not try to add anything particularly odd that, in principle, would be supposed to "diversify" the gameplay. The people responsible for the production are fans of the original who wanted to give the game a real facelift.
Pharaoh: A New Era is the same classic game from 1999, but in a new package. The graphics faithfully reproduce the models from the original production. It's admittedly more "cartoonish," which probably won't suit everyone. It didn't bother me, though, and the game immediately engrossed me. This was aided by one, extremely important option, which, in my opinion, eliminated the biggest disadvantage of the original Pharaoh – the ability to disable recruiters . This resulted in a gameplay model closer to Zeus: Master of Olympus or Emperor: Rise of The Middle Kingdom .
The important thing is that if someone wants to, they can still play it the old way. It depends entirely on the player's choice so we're only gaining, not losing . These elements can definitely be considered positive. In addition, the game explains its own rules to newcomers in a more visual way. The original already enjoyed clear descriptions of subsequent goals and tasks. For example, we receive a proposed solution to building roads and the first houses right after entering the map, directly on the city board.
Pharaoh A New Era is the same classic game from 1999, but in a new package. If someone wants to, they can still play it the old way. It depends entirely on the player's choice so we're only gaining, not losing. The new era of historical city builders looks really exciting. If only it would bring more remakes like this one.
This is a very good move, because not everyone may know that houses in Pharaoh can be built in two rows, with the ones in the back not requiring direct access to the road. I personally learned this through trial and error. In terms of gameplay, A New Era does a fantastic job at restoring the old glory to a game over twenty years old. We get a complete UI overhaul as well , but here, unfortunately, not all works as well as you'd like.
On the right side of the screen we have the construction menu. Depending on what we need, we can immediately get a list of buildings to construct by clicking the right icon. However, once we have to deal with subcategories, we first see another icon of said subcategory, and only then can we access the buildings. I found myself often mis-clicking the subcategory icon, thinking it was actually for a building . The solution was similar in the original Pharaoh , it just used text rather than icons, which somehow made it less confusing.
In addition, the notification bars in the upper half of the screen are annoying, as they're far too large and end up clogging the screen. If that was the intention, it turned out kind of pointless. Another issue is the inability to rotate the map, which prevents looking at the city from different angles . This makes it harder to place buildings and remove them. Because of this, I always felt like running the risks of accidentally destroying a more important structure standing behind the object I wanted to delete. Navigating the map also becomes less convenient as the city expands. Scrolling the screen at the edges is very slow and it can't be adjusted in any way . There’s also no minimap, which means you can't just instantly jump between different fragments of the map.
I also have to mention the scenario description card. There are defeat conditions, but for some reason there are no... victory conditions. These are displayed before entering the mission, and during gameplay proper, they're only shown on the bar, which cannot be disabled. I found it quite annoying; I don't need to be constantly reminded that I need to develop houses to a certain level, for example.
Pharaoh looks and sounds great!
Okay, let's now focus on the audio-visual layer. I have only mentioned the graphics so far, but the sound design also deserves attention. Both what we see and hear in Pharaoh: A New Era proves that we’re dealing with a proper remake. I've already said that the new version of the classic city builder is a bit cartoonish, but this mostly concerns the inhabitants of our city who walk its streets and go to work in different parts of it . When it comes to buildings, they would be better described as "hand-painted ." You can just see that this isn't a mod, but rather a game built from scratch.
Thanks to the graphics , Pharaoh: A New Era has its own identity. The ability to zoom in and out allows you to enjoy both the sight of individual buildings and the view of the city from birds-eye perspective . I was impressed with the care taken to reproduce the original buildings of the ancient, Egyptian metropolis. The image itself, however, would not be complete if it wasn't complemented by a soundtrack.
And when it comes to music, we're also dealing with a remake. If someone loved the melodies from the original production, they should be delighted this time around. From the very beginning, familiar sounds tingled my ears in their refurbished version . The sound is definitely crispier, which shouldn't be all that surprising if we consider the age of the original Pharaoh . At times, some of the sounds seemed too loud, but maybe it was just me. The soundtrack, on the other hand, definitely makes the game more enjoyable.
Whoever is responsible for giving voices to the city's inhabitants also deserves a firm handshake. Each of them can tell you more about the city. The only thing that bothered me was that each small human in the game seems to use just a single dialog line that they repeat every time, but maybe it was a glitch? If not, then I hope a future update will address this issue. I always like to hear the people I manage in a game like this, and I'm always counting on some witty dialogs. Unfortunately, this desire remains unfulfilled for now.
I want more
After hours spent with Pharaoh: A New Era , I'm hoping for more. I hope that this remake will not be an isolated case. I also want Zeus: Master of Olympus complete with Poseidon: Master of Atlantis , Emperor: Rise of The Middle Kingdom , and, especially , Caesar III to undergo a similar procedure – especially the latter!
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Triskell Interactive studio has a chance to breathe new life into a venerable series that otherwise scares players away with its sheer age . After all, hardly any younger player enjoys games that offer archaic quirks and gameplay. Pharaoh: A New Era is a chance for a completely new opening here, and there's no denying that the old productions from Impression Games' deserve a second life.
Of course the game has some bugs as you could read above, but they could easily be solved with a minor update . Who knows – maybe we will even get a community workshop and a ton of new missions and campaigns in the future! The possibilities are indeed endless. The new era of historical city builders looks really exciting. If only it would bring more remakes like this one.
Zbigniew Woznicki | Gamepressure.com