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Computer Games and the Classical World

BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
edited May 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
So, I'm a Classicist, and I doing some research looking at depictions of the Classical World in new media.

One of the things I would like to look into is the classical world in computer games, and trying to save my subject from people who insist on writing about it who have never actually played the game and have no real knowledge of computer games and the processes behind decisions and whatnot (they generally just treat it like films and there are different things going on which actually make a difference in this area of reception studies).

While I've managed to get a pretty hefty list through my own knowledge and some google-fu, I know that you guys on PA will know of a load of games I've never even heard of.

If you know anything, can you post the title and console the game's on (and if you want to let me know how it uses depictions of the classical world it will be a help as a starting point).

EDIT: to save from any confusion, Classical World = ancient Greece and Rome

EDIT 2: It's not just setting, but any game that uses any aspect pertaining to ancient Greece and Rome (i.e. mythology, character names, etc). Also, it doesn't matter if it was the worse game to have been vomited up upon this earth, that's actually quite useful in terms of the topic, though if there are decent games, that's also good :P

BobCesca on

Posts

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Tighter than R. Kelly in his teens. Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Not sure if this is the kind of thing you're looking for, but Rome: Pathway to Power was pretty entertaining.

    It's an old Maxis PC game in which the player starts as a slave and attempts to climb the ladder to become the new emperor through war, diplomacy, and whatnot.

    I don't remember a hell of a lot about it, except that the battles were pretty fun, and that the Colosseum fights were great. You could also cheat at dice, which is a plus in my book.

    They're gonna bury you, they're gonna finish. They're gonna stand 'em up six by six by six.
  • DelzhandDelzhand motivated battle programmerRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I think you might run into a bit of a problem. Most games are more akin to pulp than anything resembling classicism. Part of that is that the entire hobby is predicated on a sense of action - input that results in on-screen happenings. Typically it takes the form of violence, which is at odds with the sort of formal restraint exercised by classicists.

    Sure there are games that are classics, beautiful, or well designed - there might be some that qualify as literature or art, but I don't know of anything classical.

    jk0Btsj.png
  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Oops...Classical World = ancient Greece and Rome

  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Delzhand wrote: »
    I think you might run into a bit of a problem. Most games are more akin to pulp than anything resembling classicism. Part of that is that the entire hobby is predicated on a sense of action - input that results in on-screen happenings. Typically it takes the form of violence, which is at odds with the sort of formal restraint exercised by classicists.

    Sure there are games that are classics, beautiful, or well designed - there might be some that qualify as literature or art, but I don't know of anything classical.

    I think he's talking about games SET in the classical world.

    List:

    Titan Quest (PC)
    God of War (PS2)
    Gladius (GC, Xbox, PS2)
    Rome: Total War (PC)

    steam_sig.png
  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User
    edited May 2009
    Titan Quest is a hilariously bad example of the use of the classical setting. The first act of the game takes place in a version of ancient Greece in which all of the traditional mythological monsters have started rampaging around killing folks. As the nameless hero, your task is to carve a bloody path of destruction through satyrs, centaurs, wild boars, and cyclopses while doing quests for such luminaries as King Leonides of the Spartans and the Oracle of Delphi. Then you go off to Egypt and kill jackal-men and alligator-men and the undead, which is still somewhat mythologically accurate... then in the next act you're running along the Great Wall of China. There's no time delay in the game, it's not like long years have passed during your adventure, it's "Woo here I am in the newly-built Acropolis of Athens" to "Hey now I'm on the motherfucking Great Wall killing yetis." Oh, and along the way, you also plunder Khufu's tomb in the Great Pyramid, battle your way through the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and fight Emperor Qin's terra cotta soldiers.

    It's like the makers of the game just had a checklist of every remotely noteworthy event or location from classical times and kept adding stuff until they could tick everything off.

    I'm here to tell you about voting. Imagine you're locked in a huge underground nightclub filled with sinners, whores, freaks and unnameable things that rape pit bulls for fun. And you ain't allowed out until you all vote on what you're going to do tonight [. . .] So you vote for television, and everyone else, as far as your eye can see, votes to fuck you with switchblades. That's voting. You're welcome.
  • CindersCinders Man, this is some Cinderella bullshit, man Estrogen, Depilation, ZoroastrianismRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Zeus: Master of Olympus, and the Caesar series for PC. These are city builder games set in ancient Greece and the Roman empire. Zeus also has a heavier emphasis on the Greek mythology with the gods actually wandering the streets of your cities.

    Edit: Also, Europa Universalis: Rome for PC.

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    God of War might well be a goldmine of information. Jaffe is super into his mythology and interpreting it in ridiculous ways.

    BioShock is also worth looking at. The person you communicate most in the game is named Atlas, and acts as your guide.

    Too Human is based on Norse mythology, which might only be tangentially related but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Forgot to include the systems. BioShock is on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Too Human is Xbox 360 only.

    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • DmanDman Registered User
    edited May 2009
    Some decent PC games:
    Civilization (many versions)
    Age of Empires (many versions)
    Populous

  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    There are a lot of Roman city-building games. The above mentioned Ceasar series probably the reason for this. That series consists of

    Caesar 1-3
    Pharoah (plus it's expansion Cleopatra)
    Zeus (plus it's expansion Poseidon)
    Emperor (set in China)
    Caesar 4

    There is a spinoff of the Civilization series called CivCity: Rome which is another roman city-builder.

    I would also mention Age of Mythology (real time strategy, one of the 3 factions is "Greek"). There also was a recent DS version of this game.

    I have seen a couple other roman-themed games on Steam as well.

    What you think "makes sense" has nothing to do with reality. It just has to do with your life experience. And your life experience may only be a small smidgen of reality. Possibly even a distorted account of reality at that. So what this means is that, beginning in the 20th century as our means of decoding nature became more and more powerful, we started realizing our common sense is no longer a tool to pass judgment on whether or not a scientific theory is correct. - Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User
    edited May 2009
    I am shocked and appalled that not one of you whippersnappers mentioned Altered Beast, or Kid Icarus.

    now get off my lawn
    Willeth wrote:
    BioShock is also worth looking at. The person you communicate most in the game is named Atlas, and acts as your guide.
    Ehh, aside from the name there's really no direct link that I see between Bioshock and study of the classical world. That character's name is a reference to Atlas Shrugged, and while Ayn Rand's book does use a classical metaphor (Atlas letting the weight of the world drop from his shoulders), it doesn't have much to do with classical studies beyond that.

    Xbox Live:vonPoon | PSN: vonPoon | Steam: vonPoonBurGer
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I wasn't going to mention it, really, but the OP did say anything with related names was wanted.

    @vgreminders - Don't miss out on timed events in gaming!
    @gamefacts - Totally and utterly true gaming facts on the regular!
  • vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User
    edited May 2009
    Willeth wrote: »
    I wasn't going to mention it, really, but the OP did say anything with related names was wanted.
    Fair point, objection withdrawn.

    Xbox Live:vonPoon | PSN: vonPoon | Steam: vonPoonBurGer
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    honestly there are probably dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of video games which make reference to Greek or Roman civilization or mythology.

    I would be hard pressed not to think of a game with any kind of fantasy setting involving magic, gods, monsters, etc, that did not make reference to those things.

    How many video games have minotaurs in them, for example?

    The very fantasy genre itself in any medium is enormously, enormously influenced by Greek mythology.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    rise of the argonauts is a recent one that's probably worth a rent

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  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    City Of Heroes has an entire zone set in a an alternate classical rome/greece.

    http://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Cimerora

    The game also contains many references to Greek mythology in the characters and their backgrounds.

    http://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Ingame_References

    The most powerful beings in the game are infused with power of the greek gods.

    http://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Incarnate

    The original lead developer had a MA in Ancient History and I believe a second one in Mythology.

  • VoroVoro Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    No mention of Shadow of Rome for the PS2? Half the game is an extremely gory third-person action game. A A very small part of that is with the Roman army, and the rest is gladiatorial matches including a few chariot races. The other half of the game is basically Metal Gear Rome. Lots of stealth and behind the scenes politics.

    XBL GamerTag: Comrade Nexus
  • DelzhandDelzhand motivated battle programmerRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Oops...Classical World = ancient Greece and Rome

    Ah, I gotcha. In that case, the Rygar remake for PS2 had some absolutely beautiful greek architecture.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbYguaNV-xg

    jk0Btsj.png
  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Oh, Rise of Nations of course.

  • TerrendosTerrendos Decorative Monocle Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Concerning video games, the use of classically-based mythological creatures can be seen in just about any fantasy RPG ever. Golden Sun has many of its more powerful attacks named after classical figures, with a slight relevance. For example, the second most powerful attack is named Charon, and it technically summons the ferryman of the Styx to attack foes, though it's kind of a Japanified version.

    Sig1.png
  • pogo mudderpogo mudder Registered User
    edited May 2009
    age of empires 1 and playing certain epochs in empire earth 2, as well as rome total war etc, if you're going for rts'. If you're doing classics you'll probably appreciate how cool god of war 1 and especially 2 is more than most people. Sure its not that accurate, but its cool playing through that era and beating the shit out every mythological character you come across.

    what a work of art is man, and the most boring choice you can make
  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Terrendos wrote: »
    Concerning video games, the use of classically-based mythological creatures can be seen in just about any fantasy RPG ever. Golden Sun has many of its more powerful attacks named after classical figures, with a slight relevance. For example, the second most powerful attack is named Charon, and it technically summons the ferryman of the Styx to attack foes, though it's kind of a Japanified version.

    This is something I'm really interested in as I know that Classical mythology is quite popular in Japan and is used in RPGs and such that I'll never have heard of.

    In general, it's trying to get a feel for how the ancient world is used in games.

  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2009
    What was that horror survival game where pretty early on it throws you back in time and you're controlling a Roman centurion? Was on the GameCube I think.

    Also, Oh Mummy on the Amstrad CPC and of course Tomb Raider (PC/PSOne) - classic grave robbing games.


    Edit: Oh yeah, of course, it was Eternal Darkness on the GameCube.

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    hey Cesca, I sifted through my free MMO list for games with a classic theme. I'm not going to list games that have mythological creatures, because in that case you might as well play any fantasy game ever.

    One JRPG I would like to mention, though: Shin Megami Tensei, there's like 20 games of 'em, and I've only played the free MMO adaption for a week or two, but the basic premise is that there are demons and you either kill them or make them into your pets. Some of these demons and the gods they relate to are based on Ancient Greek/Latin gods/titans/etc. There is a LOT of mythology to that game, by the way. Egyptian, Hindi, Shinto, Latin, Greek, Norse and some I couldn't place.

    Anyway, free MMOs:

    Gladiatus
    In-browser RPG that puts you in the codpiece of a gladiator who kills everything that looks creepy.

    Atlantica Online
    A stunning looking TBS offering a persistent world in which guilds can control cities. You can control up to 27 characters on the battlefield whom you can tune just like you want to. However, they age and lose power when they get older. That makes important to keep attracting young blood to fight for you.

    Ikariam US/Ikariam int.
    PA thread
    Wiki
    Free in-browser empire building game wherein you take control of a Greek city state. The game is still in development, but it is a really smooth experience and it offers quite a lot of depth without becoming needlessly complex. There are also a few dozen rules to make people play fair, so you don't have to fear total annihilation while you're asleep.

    Human Age
    Rewrite 10,000 years of history in this in-browser management game.

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • ElldrenElldren 3067-6294-6208Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    honestly there are probably dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of video games which make reference to Greek or Roman civilization or mythology.

    I would be hard pressed not to think of a game with any kind of fantasy setting involving magic, gods, monsters, etc, that did not make reference to those things.

    How many video games have minotaurs in them, for example?

    The very fantasy genre itself in any medium is enormously, enormously influenced by Greek mythology.

    I would easily put that in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

    If I had to make a wild guess: if you were to pick up a game, any game, of any description, there's even odds it will have some sort of classical reference.

    That said what I was going to mention already has been, so sorry I can't be more help right now Bob :P

  • AldoAldo Hippo Hooray the swamp, always the swampRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Elldren wrote: »
    honestly there are probably dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of video games which make reference to Greek or Roman civilization or mythology.

    I would be hard pressed not to think of a game with any kind of fantasy setting involving magic, gods, monsters, etc, that did not make reference to those things.

    How many video games have minotaurs in them, for example?

    The very fantasy genre itself in any medium is enormously, enormously influenced by Greek mythology.

    I would easily put that in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

    If I had to make a wild guess: if you were to pick up a game, any game, of any description, there's even odds it will have some sort of classical reference.

    That said what I was going to mention already has been, so sorry I can't be more help right now Bob :P

    Yeah, lets not even mention classical themes in the stories in games. Because then the list of games with classical roots starts to look like a complete list of games ever. :?

    Elendil wrote: »
    said Aldo hazily, before clop-clop-clopping out of the room
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Rome: Total War is awesome. It actually got me reading classical histories. It makes you feel like you were there.

    Also, here is a Roman MMORPG. I don't know if it is any good or not.
    http://www.roma-victor.com/

  • .Tripwire..Tripwire. Firman Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Will Rock is a game where you shoot Zeus in the FACE.

    sigi_moe.pngsigi_deviantart.pngsigi_twitter.pngsigi_steam.pngsigi_tumblr.png
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