by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
A new perspective (cntd)
Also new is Venice’s campaign map, and it is a sight to behold. It is full of life and richly detailed and I’ve caught myself staring at schools of fish swimming underneath my fleets and looking at odd rock formations to confirm that yes, they really were just rocks. Individual town buildings are represented on the map itself and vary based on their location. A block of houses in Venice, for instance, looks entirely different from a block of houses in Acre. While rotating the map is still not possible, the camera does pan to give you a different perspective as you zoom in, making it all feel a lot more dynamic.
And that’s a good thing too, as you never leave the campaign map, ever. Everything is done on the map, from giving orders to your convoys to trading and talking to city representatives. Even ordering new buildings does not require you to actually go into town. In fact, there is no specific town view. You order production buildings, churches, storehouses and anything that you want built from a ‘Chinese menu’ and they are placed automatically. If there are enough materials, they’re built near instantaneously so getting new production lines up and running is faster than ever before.
Show me the money
Setting up new trade routes for your convoys has been tweaked to perfection. Building new routes is also done from the campaign map and is a question of simply selecting the cities you want your convoy to visit. Every town sports a window that shows exactly what it produces so you can see which towns to avoid for the type of good or goods that you are planning to trade. Once the route is set up, you open the detail window to add orders for each town. So simple, so elegant. Perfect.
Combat is pretty much unchanged from Port Royale and there is no fault in that. You take three ships into combat and the enemy brings three to five depending on the size of their ships. You use Chain Shot to slow them down, Canister Shot to cull the number of sailors and board any ship you plan to take home. Battles can get quite tough at times, but manual combat pays handsomely in the form of prize ships that can be sold off or used as fillers for your fleet. An active commander will have little need to build his own ships.
Ben & Jerry’s
At first glance, Rise of Venice looks like ‘Patrician nudged Southwards’ but that impression does not last beyond the first five or six hours. By then, the emphasis of the senate comes more to the forefront and this is when – for better or for worse – Rise of Venice really comes into its own.
Some fans will enjoy the additional challenge of keeping the senate happy, and relish the idea that they can focus on trading rather than building. Others may feel like Rise of Venice is a dumbed down version of Patrician. Personally, I enjoyed the senate mechanic, though I feel it could be a little more generous with the number of fleets that come with each rank. I would also like it to be fleshed out a little more. For ideas, the developers need only to look at the old DOS game Merchant Prince. I did miss not being able to ‘go inside’ towns to build production and other buildings manually but if it is to be a feature that sets Rise of Venice apart from Patrician and Port Royale, I don’t mind it too much. I can’t see anyone complaining about the dynasty mechanic though, it is a fun gameplay addition and does not get in the way of the core game.
All in all, Rise of Venice is a bit like a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s. It is new, exciting and heartwarmingly familiar to anyone who has tasted the other flavors before.
The dynasty and senate mechanics add depth, great campaign map.
Building inside of cities has been dumbed down. Senate mechanic could be fleshed out a little more.