Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anno 1701

Great city building game for the masses.
Review By Indrasut

When you play a game, what kind of features are you looking for? Graphics? Sound/music? Stability? Gameplay? Story? Whatever you are looking for, if you are really into city-building and semi-combat RTS games, there is no doubt you will be hooked into this game for a long long time. Rarely there is a game where I feel so much passion and creativity put into it. Developed by Sunflower, and published by Apsyr in the US (Sunflower is a German developer), there are tons of effort being put into this game. I never played any of the Anno series before (or A.D. series in the US), but let me tell you that this game is simply amazing!

GRAPHICS: Giving this graphic a 10 is simply an understatement. The graphic is absolutely gorgeous. I understand that the requirement is somewhat high to be able to play this game with all settings turned on, but you will see the result. Screenshots that you see in the ads or in the website are actually the in-game engine. Water effect is amazing. The art direction is spot-on and looks great. The details in each building, island, and the gameworld are abundant. You can see birds flying high and the shadow will be reflected on the ground (and buildings!). Sometimes they hop on the roof of your buildings too! The islands that you will be colonizing ranging from deserts, lush greens, jungle/forests, and even one with active volcanoes in it. Beaches in each islands looks like you want to be there. I wish when you build something, the people will actually build it from the ground up instead of the building just popped out there out of nowhere (a la Settlers 2), but still a minor input from me. There are foreign cultures and pirates. All of the buildings they have in the islands are very distinct from each other (Except with fellow AI colonies) and really in my opinion have great designs. Lastly, what I like most is the water/rain effect. When you go to an area where it is raining/storm. You can see cloud gathering and water pouring down, and the occassional thunderstorm. The best thing is, there is a water effect dripping on your screen like if you are watching a rain from your window.

GAMEPLAY: Tutorial is given and you can start building right away. The tutorial is very linear but will tell you everything you need to know to start your colony and do trading. Not really teaching you how to do combat, but city building is the core of the gameplay, so it is understandable. It might be better to put a little bit more effort to the combat since it feels shallow, but 80% of the time, you can always avoid combat with your enemies and rivals and just focus on city building. Gameplay is simple. Its like a game where it is easy to play but takes more time to master. The core gameplay is the continuous mode where you play in a randomized map with whoever you want to play (You can select your rivals and foreign cultures, among difficulty settings and other stuff). Each of the AI rival has personalities, and they really shows in the game. If you select the one who is a teacher, she will always try to be ahead on her research. Get a soldier or a pirate rival, and they will always build military strength or make a lot of warships and try to harass everyone. Play with the happy person, and you can expect them to be whimpy and you can even push them around or exploit them, and they wont do anything about it. Same thing works for the queen, pirates, and foreign cultures. The interface in this game is very intuitive. You can probably find what you want at the right window. Besides the tutorial, there is an Annopedia you can use to find whatever you need there. There are some minor quirks like when your citizen upgrades their houses, they just took your resources without telling you, and I thought it was a bug (Because my resources keep decreasing), or how slow it is to get your firemen to put out the fire in an area. I've had some crashes due to my dual core processor setting, but I really hope it will be addressed in the upcoming patches. All in all, the gameplay is almost perfect.

STORY: There's no story here except for the fact that you are trying to explore the unexplored islands and colonize them and finally get your independence from the queen. The main mode of the game is continuous mode, but there are 10 scenarios you can play, and I'm sure Sunflower will put out more scenarios in the future, if not the fans of the game.

SOUND: Music is really inspiring. Have a lot of classical tunes, giving you that "grandiose" feeling and adventure themes. The music fades and changes to different themes/tunes whenever you are in different areas. When I hover my camera over the Chinese foreign culture, the music changes to Chinese traditional music, and changes to "urgent" music when my settlement is on fire or being struck by the Black Death (Thats what they call for plague). I wish they have more than one type of music for each of the themes, but still, it is catchy and nice to hear. Sound effects are superb. Sounds of the ambience, people working and chattering on the street or market, ships sailing, combat sounds (Shooting cannons for ships and troops), and the sound of the seas are well done. Again, I wish they do more sounds for the people living in the settlements (I am getting tired of hearing the same thing over and over again).

OVERALL: There is no city building game that looks and plays as awesome as this game. I am very very impressed with this game, and I strongly recommend this game to all of the city-building fans out there. Even if you dont like to build cities, you can just enjoy the scenery and watch people go by their lives in there. Children playing with each other, people strolling down the street and buying stuff from the market. There is no day/night and season changes unfortunately, but you can actually build a building where you can toggle night view for a minute or so. Not really that great of a feature because it should be in there in the first place, but still great nonetheless. Why am I still talking here. Just go out there and get the game!

NAME: ANNO 1701
SYSTEM: PC

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