by Sergio Brinkhuis, reviewed on
Getting wet, again
Anno creator Related Designs scared the bejesus out of their fan base when they announced that their next Anno game would be set in the future rather than the past. As it turned out, we had nothing to worry about; whether historic or futuristic, the Anno formula can be applied to pretty much any age without losing its appeal. Now that our stomachs have had time to settle and our strategic brains are firmly wrapped around building bases on the ocean floor, Related Designs offers up a new challenge in the form of an expansion pack titled Anno 2070: Deep Ocean.
As the title suggests, the pack focuses on underwater expansion. If you have played the original and conclude that this means most of the new features are added to the Tech faction, you would be right. The Techs receive a new civilization level called Genius. As they are wont to be, Geniuses are a rather demanding folk and getting your population to reach the new level will require settling at least two different islands and one underwater location. You will need to produce neuro implants, lab instruments and drugs that make the Techs immune to various diseases. Their dream gadget, however, is a Bionic suit that has four production steps rather than the customary two or three. It’s difficult to manufacture but your income will surge.
All these items require new production chains with factories and farms built both under the waterline and above. A number of originally land-based factories can now be built under water, which has the added benefit that you do not have to deal with eco pollution like you would if you build them on an island. You can also pick up crops or manufactured goods through the newly added underwater trade routes that allow subs to dock at underwater docking stations rather than join the often congested docking area at the surface.
Just add water
Deep Ocean also introduces a new campaign revolving around a new invention called the Geothermal Power Plant. The player is tasked to help its creator, Hiro Ebashi, iron out the ehm… shall we say… glitches. The prototype plant caused an earthquake, resulting in a tsunami that flooded two nearby islands. The technology is so promising, however, that further experimentation seems warranted, despite the possible damage. Spanning five missions, the new campaign has you build new cities to accommodate the victims from the original flood, provide unholy amounts of energy for the power hungry research facilities that are investigating the quake and much more.
Yet perhaps the most interesting new feature of the add-on is the ability to buy shares in various islands using an option called ‘Hostile Takeover.’ The option opens up when your population reaches the appropriate level and allows you to buy up to eight shares in each island. Owning a slice of island adds a trickle of income to your treasury, while owning all its shares can give a real financial boost. It is also a means to benefit from your opponents’ efforts of colonizing and building up an island and thus an especially interesting twist when playing multiplayer games.
Anno 2070: Deep Ocean adds a good amount of content to a game that was already brimming with content when it was first released. The campaign provides a wonderful way to explore the various additions that the expansion pack has to offer. That said, it is a bit on the short side: you can have it done and dusted in a weekend or so. Considering the fact that missions in Anno have never been particularly ambitiously set up, it should not have been too difficult to add some extra content to Deep Ocean’s main campaign. On the plus side, there are also three new single missions to dabble in, so you won’t be done with the game the moment that you have finished the campaign.
In all honesty, it took me a while to start appreciating what Anno 2070: Deep Ocean has to offer. It is difficult to get excited about new manufacturing lines, or even about a new civilization level for the Techs. But once you get into buying pieces of island and start adding underwater trade routes it becomes clear what Related Designs has really done with the expansion, which is adding a final layer of beautiful polish on an already fantastic game.
Buying a slice of island is better than eating a slice of pizza.
It’s not cheap.