I've spent several hours playing this game. When I was younger, I was a huge fan of Age of Empires (1, 2, and 3). Caesar II was another great game. Sim City? Not so much. But that's what this game offers: a hybrid play-style between city building/management and conquest. It's largely dependent on city building and the conquest aspect can be downplayed quite a bit, but overall, this game has three big advantages to it.
1. Replayability- You have several "families" to choose from. Each one has unique abilities that allow for entirely different play styles. Some stress combat, others stress research, others favor popularity, and still others are ruthless slavers (morally wrong but mechanicall SUPER AWESOME)
2. Simplicity- While far from overly simplistic, this game allows users to quickly learn the city building and combat systems via the tutorial and then basic trial and error. Just accomplishing the basic objectives of the game can be be challenging, but the game provides several optional objectives that can radically alter how difficult a level can be.
3. Customization- The world map offers different ways of reaching your final objective (helping the Empire while helping yourself). Furthermore, for every successful mission (as well as bonuses from extra objectives), you gain dinarii you can spend on estates that enhance your governor. You can use these and points made by leveling up to make a unique governor who excels in certain parts of combat/city building.
I've spent HOURS playing this game. And you can too. I'm even preparing a FAQ to help others play. An oldie but a goodie.