Centurion: Defender of Rome

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(prices updated 10/2 8:21 AM )

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Starting as a young Roman legionnaire in 275BC, your job is to conquer the known world through force or diplomacy, fighting on land and sea.

Centurion: Defender of Rome is a turn-based strategy game. You start with one province, Rome, and one legion. To complete the game, you have to conquer all the provinces on the map.

One part of the game is micro-managing your provinces. You set up tax rates and make people happy by organizing games. In Rome, you can organize a chariot race, a gladiatorial combat or even a simulated naval battle; this starts an action mini-game where you control the chariot rider, gladiator or ship.

Another part of the game is military conquest. You can raise legions or strengthen them in any province you control (let's just hope there are enough men in the province, or your legion will be incomplete and weaker). There are three types of legions, each of them has a different strength. You can also move a legion to a neighbouring province.

When you enter a province you don't yet control, you can speak with the ruler there. With luck, you can convince him to give you the province for free; but this isn't very likely, and you'll often have to fight.

When your legion attacks a province, or defends one of your provinces from an invader, the game switches to an isometric view of the battlefield. You can give orders to your legion (assuming they are within the range of their commander's voice) and watch as they duke it out with the enemy forces. Eventually, one of the sides will be completely wiped out or panic and retreat.

Finally, you can buy warships and have naval battles with the enemy fleet. This is represented as an action mini-game, depicting a duel of the flagships; however, the outcome of the battle actually depends on the strength of your fleet.


  • センチュリオン Defender of Rome - Japanese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Average score: 70% (based on 26 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 75 ratings with 9 reviews)

A classic!

The Good
I loved the challenge of conquering the world. I loved trying to figure out the right combination of responses to negotiate treaties. And also racking up huge kill numbers was fun! The sea battles were great (modeled right after Pirates!), the chariot races were fun, but the best part had to be the responses of the enemy generals. Stuff like "Your tribe wear clothes not right" by Galba of Narbonensis and "I shall rip out your lying tongue, dog of Rome!" by Vercingetorix of Gaul just rule. :D

I really liked the music, but there were only like 2 in-game songs... I wish there had been more.

The Bad
Well, it didn't have a way of recording the "Record Achievements" at the end of the game. That would've been nice.

Also, I would have liked to see a greater diversity of units (Roman elephant units, archers, catapults, different types of cavalry, etc.), more flexibility of movement on the battlefields (you couldn't move units diagonally), more types of battlefields (trees, rivers, etc.), and stuff like that.

They really needed to cut down on the amount of gladiator fights! Practically every 3 years the citizens of Rome would "grow restless" and you'd have to hold a gladiator fight. That part was pretty pointless.

The Bottom Line
This is a really fun game. You should try to play it if you never have.

DOS · by Raphael (1245) · 1999

A rough gem

The Good
This is one of my favorite games of all time. While old and primitive by today's standards, Centurion was years ahead of its time and offers hours of fun gameplay.

The centerpiece of the game is real-time land battles. It may take a while to figure out the quirks and strategies of the units but it is well worth it. The game takes into account factors like unit moral, the direction units are facing (and being attacked by) and the general's abilities. These factors, along with army formations and tactics form an eligent and challenging experience which was unmached in gaming until the likes of "Shogun: Total War" came out almost 10 years later.

The empire level is fun as well. It's a turn based system where you can move your legions around, invade provinces, fight off invaders etc. Its deep enough to have stategic depth without being complicated or requiring micomanagement. There is only 2 resouces: money (talents) and manpower - both of which are usually in short supply. Eventually you earn enough promotions to command up to 14 legions and once you conquor the world you become Ceasar and win.

I also liked the fine tuned difficulty settings, where you could change how difficult each part of the game was, rather than the game as a whole. You could even change difficulty levels mid-game if things were too easy or too rough.

The Bad
But there are many flaws in the game. Graphics were clunky, even for 1991.

The costs of some things don't make any sense. An infantry legion (4200 foot soldiers) costs 20 talents, the same as a single galeon (which can carry only 200 soldiers) and the same as a heavy chariot for racing. This makes sea battes overly expensive and dangerous since you can lose your whole fleet if the battle goes badly. Its often easier to simply go around the whole mediteranian to conquer north africa than to build a fleet to cross it.

While land battles are excellent, chariot races and fleet battles are boring and poorly made. Thankfully we don't have to fight gladiator battles in the genisis version - which are even worse.

There are other minor detals which are irksom. Like not being able to combine armies or transfer troops, not being able to dismiss bad generals (being forced to suicide them in battle to be rid of them) and the really bad savegame password system.

The Bottom Line
A well designed empire building game with real-time land battles. A game ten years ahead of its time.

Genesis · by Tony Maki (10) · 2003

Not very rewarding.

The Good
The battles were pretty fun.

The Bad
But on easy mode, all you had to do was make all your men stand in one place, wait for the enemy to come, and your army kills them all as they're coming. That's a guaranteed win every time, so the battles got boring pretty quickly. Anything harder than "easy level," and you will surely lose every single battle you fight, no matter how many men you have. The battles could have had more men on them as well, and the computer's forces sometimes had elephants! Hey... I want to control elephants!!! But the game won't let me - that's only for the computer. It's no use negotiating with other countries because they will all want to go to war immediately. Once you win, you don't unlock anything, and nothing happens. Game over, man!

The Bottom Line
You can play something better in your spare time.

DOS · by Mr Blea (1) · 2005

[ View all 9 player reviews ]



  • Enchanted Realms
    • September 1991 (Issue #8) – Distinctive Adventure Award


The music used in the naval battles was taken from the movie Ben Hur. It was in the scene where Ben Hur was a galley slave.

Information also contributed by William Shawn McDonie

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Raphael.

Genesis added by PCGamer77. FM Towns, PC-98 added by Terok Nor. Amiga added by MAT.

Additional contributors: MAT, Patrick Bregger, Narushima.

Game added August 14th, 1999. Last modified August 17th, 2023.