Patrician III Review (PC)
For those of us who haven’t played its predecessor, Patrician III is a game where you take on the role of one of the late middle age’s trade Patricians. Your goal is to build a strong trade empire and dominate the Hanseatic League (or the Hansa) which is a trade union consisting of the many free Baltic cities. Your final goal is to be elected the leader (Alderman) of the league, handle its foreign relations and directing its defence against marauding pirate fleets or jealous renaissance princes. Reaching this position involves gradually manoeuvring from the position of a simple trader to a rich patrician. Procuring a large merchant fleet, setting up trade routes and acquiring more and more responsibility along the way. Of course, the acquiring of wealth can be achieved in more than one way, if you wish it’s possible to prey on other people’s wealth and build up a mighty pirate fleet rather than a trade empire. This path is not very likely to earn you the respect of the hanseatic cities however.
Firstly, in Patrician III there are two game types. You can play a campaign, like for instance ”The rise of the Hanseatic league”, or you can play a standard game where you define the parameters yourself. Adjustable parameters include your name, your gender, the difficulty level (this can also be customized in detail), your home town (one of twelve major Hanseatic towns around the Baltic), objective conditions (reaching a certain title, amount of wealth or population number), which map to play on (only the Baltic is included but there is support for fan made maps) and last of all the game speed (but this can be adjusted as much as you want during the game). Depending a little on your choices you’ll then start with a trading office in a Baltic city, a ship and some money to get you started.
Once you start to gain more money you will be able to build more ships, which you can then equip as you like and hire a crew for. The game also allows you to recruit captains at the various taverns around the Baltic. This is very useful as you can order these captains to steer your ships along trade routes you define (this is done well, you define a trade route and give the captain orders about what to buy or sell and at what maximum or minumum price), thus saving you the hassle of controlling your entire merchant fleet at all times. Captains also gain experience and affect a number of things like for instance how the ship fares in sea battles or the prices at which you buy goods with that ship. If you get rich enough, you’re even able to create expeditions to go search for new markets in the Mediterranean Sea.
Another way of earning money in Patrician is to take the various missions that will be offered to you at the city hall or in the taverns of the cities you visit. You can be offered everything from smuggling goods or hiding stolen merchandise in your warehouses, to hunting down pirates, defending the city harbour or supplying starving cities with food. These missions are usually limited by time and might also affect your reputation (for instance people will come to disregard you if you smuggle goods for someone, especially if you’re caught).
As mayor you get the added responsibility of managing your city’s defences, which if you do it well will give you the possibility to rise even higher in the Hansa hierarchy. Even closer to your ultimate goal, to become the Alderman and leader of the entire organization.
When a city is under seige you’ll be able to see the enemy soldiers approaching your city with seige weapons fighting the guards and most likely looting the houses outside the city walls. Building outside the city walls is cheaper but doing so means there’s a greater risk of destruction when the city comes under attack.
The interface of Patrician III is quite well thought out, and while it takes a little while to get used to, it works very well to allow you to control the game effectively. Everything from the sea battles to the buying and selling of goods works very well and is smoothly integrated. It feels as if a lot of thought has gone into the planning of the interface, and this has paid off.
The graphics are as can be seen in the screenshots very good over all. Everything from the landscape of the bustling cities or the animations of the various buildings you can enter, to the overall Baltic map and to the battle scenes at sea are very nicely depicted. Along with the music one can hear while in port and the many ambient sounds this works well to create the appropriate atmosphere of a medieval trade game.
Overall this is a very well thought out and well put together game. Ascaron has created a detailed medieval trade simulation game yet managed to avoid making it too complicated to be enjoyable. The inclusion of a map editor and support for multiplayer with up to 8 players also ensures longevity. This game is in my opinion definitely worth buying.