by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Rise of the Trader
In the fifteenth century, Venice was at the height of its power, both in terms of its culture and the vast wealth it had accumulated from being a prominent trading port. I went to London recently to check out Rise of Venice, a game in which you play as a young merchant hoping to make his way in the world. It is a trading simulator which brings in elements from Kalypso’s previous trading games like Port Royale and Patrician. In the main campaign you will experience a story filled with political intrigue, feuding families and naval trade spanning twelve to fifteen hours.
Of course, the game is a lot deeper than that outside the main story. Once the main narrative is complete, you can still continue your game, doing everything you can to become a master trader in the watery Italian city. I was told that it was easy to spend over a hundred hours in the game, even after completing the campaign. Rise of Venice features twenty five cities to be discovered and traded with throughout the Mediterranean Sea, along with twenty-two goods to barter for. Not all of this is open to the lowly buyer and seller you are at the start of the game, though. The developers have gone for a degree of historical accuracy here. At the time a trader would have to apply for various licenses to be able to trade to certain towns and to deal with certain goods. In the game you will have to rank up before unlocking trade access to new places and the ability to deal with more exciting wares.
Power of Families
That is certainly not easy, as Venice’s trade is ruled by the Council of the Ten. A representative from each of the most powerful families in the city makes up the council, and they are in charge of deciding the fate of traders, granting permissions and new ranks. This is where the politics in the game come into play. Each family has its own interests, and they don’t always come in line with what other families in Venice want. To gain influence with each family you will have to do things that help them out in some way. It becomes a delicate balancing act as you never want to annoy too many of the council, in case they don’t grant you the all-important votes you need to gain levels and ultimately become a more successful trader.
You are able to form your own family as well, and even have the option of marrying into one of the others, opening up new gameplay options. You can give jobs to your family members. For example, if your cousin is a good sailor, then maybe it would be a good idea to make him the captain of one of your convoys. He will earn experience points from completing activities, with which you can increase attribute points that can make him a faster navigator, or a better fighter.
Eye in the Clouds
Everything in the game is performed through the world map, which removes nearly all of the loading screens that trade simulator veterans are used to. From the map you can control your convoys, or zoom in on a city and view all the buildings and interact with them. Always being in this view has extra benefits, like the ability to see world events happening in real time. Beyond the nice cosmetic effects like clouds, birds, shoals of fish and rainbows to be seen, you will occasionally see world changing events. Storms and wildfires that can spread between cities, sandstorms and droughts in the desert areas of Africa and even volcano eruptions can all have an effect on your trade with the cities that they occur in.