History builds Roman empire

Channel launches vidgame

Tapping into the current epic battle craze, The History Channel is launching a “Great Battles of Rome” vidgame, its first international console game, which will hit European outlets in May.

Comprising more than 100 battles — including the Punic and Samnite Wars, and Julius Caesar’s conquest of Britain — “Great Battles” is produced in collaboration with the U.K.’s Slitherine and Italy’s Black Bean.

Vidgame, which allows players to control massive armies of legionaries, archers and cavalry, while carving out the Roman Empire in a series of campaigns against Barbarian hordes, will be out Stateside in the fall.

“This is our first videogame to integrate programming into game play,” said A&E Television Networks licensing topper Carrie Trimmer, who unveiled “Great Battles” in Rome’s Richard Meier designed Ara Pacis museum, which houses a peace altar commissioned by Emperor Augustus.

Thirty clips from The History Channel archives have been spliced in with narration to give the Roman war game added educational gravitas.

“Battles,” being released for PlayStation2 and PC, will be marketed via Web sites tied in with the airing of The History Channel’s “Rome: Engineering an Empire,” and other Rome-themed programming.

“Battles” is the second History Channel branded console game after “Civil War: A Nation Divided,” which has sold more than 250,000 units since its 2006 release.

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