by Marcus Mulkins
reviewed on PC
"Oh, (Money) Woes Is Me!"
Notice the many requirements for money. There are only three sources of income available to the player; Taxes, donations from the Queen, NPCs, and opponents, and Trade. Taxes alone will never be enough to cover your maintenance costs and your required constructions and research so you are lost without the other two sources.
What complicates the situation is that your potential buyers have a limited number of buy/sell options for goods. Your initial island warehouse has only two slots to either buy or sell a commodity but when your people evolve upward, you may upgrade warehouses to add more slots; for a price. For instance, if you need Tools, that uses one slot for buying, leaving you only one slot for selling one commodity; choose wisely. Visiting ships have a limited number of cargo slots, which have to be empty to receive purchased goods; hopefully they do have an open slot and they actually want what you are offering.
When you take commodities to sell on other islands, you have to check to see which goods their warehouses are accepting. Even if you loaded something you knew was in demand on island X when you left, it may no longer be in demand there by the time you arrive, in which case that ship (a limited resource) just made a wasted trip. It sure isn’t easy to get by in 1701 A.D.
"Time, Time, Time, Is NOT On My Side..."
The money issues made me realize that the game is really lacking a decent “pause” option. You can stop the game, but when you do so, the only thing you can do is study the terrain. There is no option to access any other kind of information without the game running on while you are studying up. And while the clock ticks, your maintenance costs keep eating up your treasury. Once your treasury goes negative, your building options come to a screeching halt. If you are playing the Continuous game, once you hit $5,000 gold, it’s Game Over. You can only pray that you make some quick sales or receive a timely grant from somebody, anybody.
And despite the fairly detailed education you received in the tutorials and scenarios, you will have other questions come up that can only be answered in the game’s in-game help feature, the ANNOpedia, which can only be accessed while the game is running. See what I mean?
One of the big complaints about 1503 A.D. was that the combat had been made more complicated. Apparently Sunflowers took that complaint to heart because in 1701 A.D. both land and sea combat became exceedingly simplistic. Naval combat is nothing more than using ships that only vary by the number of guns they carry (0, 8, 12, or 24) and how much cargo they carry (1, 2, 3, or 4 cargo slots). Land combat consists of militia, pikemen, grenadiers, or mortars throwing themselves at a target, either a land unit or a building. Unlike ships, which can quickly repair themselves by spending time next to a shipyard, land units once damaged do not ever heal. There is a limit to how many land units you may have at one time so you can quickly find yourself stuck with an army of near-dead soldiers. You may take units of the same type and merge them together into a single unit but that will either still create a single sub-strength unit or you lose part of your units if the total exceeds the value of a single unit. Overall, there is nothing about combat that faintly resembles 'finesse'.
Maybe there is something wrong with me. Or maybe I am just the only one that can see the “Emperor’s new clothes” for what they are. I skimmed several reviews written by other people, and they all seriously liked this game, with minor reservations. But after something like 50 hours+ of playing the scenarios and what passes for a campaign game, I have decided that even though this is a fine looking game, it just doesn’t work for me.
If you don’t already own any of the earlier games in this series, then and only then will this game seem novel. For what it does, there are already a number of other older games available that do it better. You would think that coming to the plate for the third time, Sunflowers would have offered us something new, something unique, something truly different, something better. Instead we receive a familiar face with some extra makeup.
No Pros and Cons at this time