by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on NDS
Tick the boxes
My Nintendo DS is primarily used to play Strategy games. The touch-screen/stylus combo works great as a replacement for a PC mouse and offers game publishers an opportunity to release handheld versions of PC franchises. Obviously this does not guarantee that Strategy game adaptations on the DS always work well. Quite the contrary, we have seen more than a few duds over the years. Not being one of those duds, Ubisoft’s new strategy game Dawn of Discovery shows an unprecedented mastery over the touch-screen.
Dawn of Discovery is the new international name for Ubisoft’s Anno series. The game retains its original name, Anno 1404, in its birthplace Germany. Like Anno 1701 on the DS, Dawn of Discovery impresses with its quality, scale and ease of play but does leaves one box un-ticked. Let’s see what they are shall we?
It’s all there
Everything that we know and love from the full games can be found in the DS version, albeit somewhat simplified and scaled down. Production and upgrade paths are less complex and require less time and effort to achieve. While this may sound like a shortcut, it does not affect gameplay in a negative way. In fact, changing the complexity changes the pace so that it works perfectly for playing ‘on the road’.
Players can chose to play either a campaign or a sandbox game. The first will give players a chance to become familiar with Dawn of Discovery by offering objectives and guiding the player in how to reach them. The ‘guiding’ is done through advisors who will join up with you and offer tips. As you grow comfortable with the game’s interface and gameplay mechanics, the usefulness of the advisors gradually deteriorates but they remain present throughout without outstaying their welcome. In the sandbox mode, their presence is limited but they are still used to introduce new features and offer warnings and advice on events that occur during your game.
Dawn of Discovery comes with a simple but effective tech-tree. Technology is rewarded by a NPC player called “The Orient” who contacts you whenever certain milestones are reached. These technologies contribute to areas such as trade bonuses and water pumps that increase the fertility of your island. The latter is probably one of the most important technologies that you will posses. Without it, you cannot cultivate the spices required for your city to move on to the next level. Higher level cities generate more tax income which, of course, can be used to create even better cities.
Some, but not all, buildings can be upgraded. Upgrading your Markets and Warehouses for instance, will make selling and hauling goods around more efficient. As your city grows, dirt roads are automatically converted to paved roads, increasing the speed at which goods are transported even further.
No Pros and Cons at this time