Anno 1602 Gold Edition
Designed by Sunflowers
Platform: PC CDROM
Price £9.99 Released: Out Now
32MB of RAM
2MB graphics/video card
It is rare
that a RTS can be relaxing, leisurely paced and at the same time be thoroughly
enjoyable. Yet this is what Anno 1602 Gold Edition manages to achieve and in
doing so gives the RTS gamer a welcome change of pace. The original game was
released back in 1998 and was extremely successful in Germany and most of continental
Europe. The game was followed by a mission pack which included extra missions
and a map/mission editor. In the UK the mission disk was never released and
I for one was not too happy about it especially as it meant that you couldn't
play against those who had the mission disk. Thankfully the Gold Edition includes
everything, original game (fully patched) and mission disk. Even better though
is the fact that at the price of £9.99 it is cheaper than any mission
disk released within the last 3 years which makes it an absolute bargain.
Anyway on to the game itself. To give some kind of reference point here the game is something like a seventeenth century version of Caesar 3 (but no where near as hectic as that game). You can either play through a huge campaign or you select one of five tutorials or you can play one of the scenarios or you can play an open ended game that goes on until you are defeated basically. It is probably the continuous open ended game that most people play. You start off with a small ship that contains some tools, wood and food and with 3 rivals who have the same and you must sail to one of the surrounding islands and settle your population. The choice of island is crucial. Each island has three main resources such as cotton, tobacco and cocoa to name but three. There is also minerals to be concerned with. Iron ore and gold are only available on certain islands so its best to pick an island with at least one of these. As your population grows and they become more cultured they become more demanding and want more sophisticated products such as jewellery which is made from gold. If you don't have the desired merchandise then your civilians can become unhappy so you will have to trade with a rival (assuming you have a peace treaty and trade agreement) in order to obtain it, which can prove costly.
Click the thumbnails to see the big picture.
Unlike in other RTS where you have to research in order to unlock more developed buildings and units Anno 1602 unlocks the better buildings as your population reaches certain limits. Pioneers, Civilians and Merchants are just some of different classes of people that will grace your islands and with each level your population progresses and different items are demanded. The real catch here is that your island will have a mix of different classes and so you will have more items to concern yourself with. Hospitals, fire stations, cathedrals, public baths and many more buildings will be requested and it is very challenging attempting to meet the requirements.
On the military side the game is quite good also. It keeps things on a small scale (none of the epic Cossacks style battles here) but it is manageable and naval skirmishes and land battles are a possibility if diplomacy is not for you. The AI is really clever and seems to scale itself to your ability. Skirmishes with Pirates also occurs and you have to guard your trade routes to make sure that you aren't raided (the Gold Edition includes an option to turn off the pirates which is nice for beginners). If your progress during the game is really lagging behind your rivals there is always a chance to catch up or defend yourself and at no time do you feel overrun which a nice change in a RTS.
The interface is nice and clean and little shield icons appear if a verbal message is being given. When you originally goto an island and its resources are evaluated you get a video clip which although it's not subtitled it is clear to see what the message is (i.e. a hand holding a gold nugget is to tell you that the island has gold deposits). The tutorials are subtitled so you won't miss anything that is being given out verbally. The manual is also very good and will help you settle into the game very quickly. This is a game that will appeal to any gamer who has the slightest interest in city building simulations/ general RTS. Even if you usually find RTS games to quick paced then Anno 1602 Gold Edition could be your gaming cup of tea.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 At this price Anno 1602 is a must. (at £30 it was a good buy).
Quality of text: 8/10 Generally very good but some cutscenes are without subtitles although it is of little consequence.
Graphics: 8/10 Not quite as good as Caesar 3 but still pleasing on the eye.
Interface: 8/10 A Good interface which is easy to learn.
Gameplay: 9/10 Relaxing and stress free (almost) RTS.