Review

ANNO 1701 Review (PC)

City building at its finest in 1701, build, explore, settle and trade for the wealthiest colony at sea.

Wow Crustacean invasion

Graphics are superb with a cartoon vibe to them; the water is a sight to behold if your PC can handle the requirements. Itís no wonder the game is so enjoyable with rich textures and captivating artwork. 1701 is beautiful with even the user interface putting in all its worth and getting the job done.

Many city builders tend to trip up over their UIs but developer Related Designs has done a marvellous job. It will rarely hinder your plans for expansion and coupled with a straight forward and easy to understand tutorial, the game has everything going right for it.

Building your colony itself is easy and youíll be utilising small economy chains to deliver your people to happiness, and wealth of course. For a large portion of the game youíll be creating these production chains to feed either your own settlement for growth, or trade earning you extra coin.

Youíll start with a simple shoreline warehouse/market; from there you can build within a certain distance away. To build further on you will need to place more markets down which will increase your territory in a manner of speaking. These markets are the lifeblood as every finished resource will end up at one, or nothing will flourish. A building that produces an end product such as a Weave shop or Butcher must be connected by a road. A transport wagon will then carry the goods back and load up your stores, the difference with 1701 is that all markets on an island pool together their stocks. Meaning if it is delivered to one, all has it available to be withdrawn which greatly helps keep things simple and more fun.

You can get better markets with better construction radiuses as well as more wagons available to carry goods. For better structures to become available though youíll need to not only reach certain population level requirements but also ďupgradeĒ the settlement. To advance your colony youíll need to satisfy the current population type which in the beginning are pioneers, and then work to fulfil the needs of the next type of citizenry. As you please them youíll see the town improve and naturally be able to hold more people, meaning more tax income.

Yes aside from the resources of which there is a far number to contend with, youíll need to watch your gold levels. In the beginning chances are youíll be in the red for income, however as time goes on and you build more houses you will eventually see things begin to even out. It will be hard to make a profit from the start as each building you put up costs maintenance and wages.

Very rich artwork Simple to read diplomacy

Relying solely on income tax may not be the ideal solution; instead you could take advantage of your neighbouring colonies lack of supplies. 1701 is all about trading too whether itís within your own territories as not all islands can cater for every industry, or getting rich off some unfortunate faction.

For trading youíll need the sea, and a boat of course, setting up routes has been made incredibly simple by Related Designs. A click on the strategic map and you need only select the starting and end ports, which resources are to be picked up or unloaded and then assign a ship. Diplomacy does come into trading with your neighbours, if they donít have a trade agreement with you they might think that vessel laden with rum is actually packed with troops.

Research also plays a role when you build a school, you can then spend gold and knowledge on unlocked research. To unlock new items to be researched youíll need to construct certain buildings. Some branch out into two different end resulting technologies meaning you canít have everything, these investments can be very helpful especially when industry related.

Military options in 1701 are the only negative point; battles and units themselves are so simplistic that no strategy comes into effect. Whoever throws the most or better equipped guys at the other side wins, thatís it. Raising that army too is very costly in terms of resources which could have been better used perhaps through trade, get rich off the very neighbour you wanted to knock out in the first place. So war is bad, trade is good.

The only thing really worth investment in terms of armament would be the navy. Pirates most probably will come after some of your vessels and attempt to cripple trade if they can. Of course that is dependant on the difficulty level you set yourself for a game. You get the standard easy, medium and hard settings but also a custom option. There you can alter a lot of things that will greatly impact your game such as whether fires or plague can happen, as well as elements like natural disasters to natural resources.

After all itís your time youíll be spending with the game so I think Related Designs was very wise to let you decide the conditions. Many donít like constant strife hitting their little utopias so for those gamers 1701 is very friendly too.

Sadly there is no campaign to see only scenarios which are quite easy to overcome, whacky and fun though they maybe. Youíll be mostly creating your own tales through the continuous mode which has plenty of victory conditions to choose from. Multiplayer while there in spirit doesnít live up to much practically. The very nature of the game is long when building up infrastructure so contact with other players is bound to be far between if at all.

Conflict will become nearly inevitable as resources are tapped to their full potential and bustling colonies still need more. Thatís when trade routes are targeted; cutting off a seemingly small-time trade line can actually build up to devastating effects. The daisy-chain economy doesnít appreciate any break in its lines.

The sounds offered are great too, zoom down to the towns people and youíll hear the day-to-day goings on and audio clues as to how your settlement fairs. A spectacular view is to zoom all the way out and look down upon your colony amongst the clouds, the sea looks even more majestic which ships sail along.


A budding settlement Simple and clean user interface

1701 offers a nicely presented and deep strategy for gamers looking to sculpt a Caribbean styled empire, with fantastic artwork and interesting gameplay I would highly recommend this for players in the gaming mood to build, rather than destroy.

Top Game Moment:
Zooming out amongst the clouds and admiring my colony with such a supreme visual beauty.

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