Anno 1701 is the latest in the Anno series of games and takes you back to the golden age of exploration. It kicks off with some nice cinematic footage and some very stirring music, these two things combine to immediately draw the eye and pull you into the world thatís presented.
Once youíve picked a profile and sorted out your options you can choose from a campaign style game, where you get to fulfil a number of objectives or a free play game where you can set up the victory conditions, choose your opponents and even toggle on and off the Non Player Characters such as the Native Americans and Pirates.
The game has a very useful tutorial that teaches you the basics of building up a thriving colony and managing said colony. You can see right from the start that the developers want you to spend time playing the game, not watching a myriad of buildings build. So thereís no build time on your structures, they appear as you place them down.
You have to admire any game that takes a leaf from the old Dungeon Keeper
series and pops a little warning up after a couple of hours of play, akin to the: youíve been playing for two hours now, isnít it time you took a break? Or the classic: Itís beyond midnight now, shouldnít you be in bed?
During this time Iíd gotten to grips with the building part of the game and I can report it uses the same tried a tested resource management, buildings and road linking of other city and civilisation building games. As the old saying goes, if itís not broken donít try and fix it.
Building up your colony is surprisingly easy, getting a working colony that is satisfied in terms of needs and wants is however trickier. The good news here is that there are numerous tools that allow the player to keep an eye on their people. You can get detailed information from the town centre to help you plan what you need to do next and the citizens homes will reveal what the population wants.
At Pioneer level this can be as simple as a bit of food and some clothes, but as you begin to evolve your folk through the socio-economic ladder youíll need to satisfy several requirements, like that of religion and the most important for a Caribbean setting: RUM!
Each island supports a few basic commodities, such as sugar cane or hops. No one island usually has the commodities to allow your civilisation to grow right from the start. You can either trade with other colonies, the free trader or the NPCs such as the Native Americans, or expand your colony to another island and colonise that.
Once you have a new colony you can begin to set up trade routes and ensure that your people have enough of the things they need to grow. It all seems extremely effortless and to be frank is quite a joy to play. It does get a little complex in the way things are done initially but if you pay attention to the tutorials then you will find things go a lot smoother.