Review

Patrician IV Review (PC)

Wealth is power and so ‘Conquest by Trade’ was all too real during the height of the Hanseatic League, which is exactly where Patrician IV casts our trader empire dreams. From a humble beginning of a single cargo ship the vision is to expand out and practically ‘own’ every major route of commerce the high seas have to offer, dominating every city marketplace.

You can choose between a sandbox game or follow the campaign but either way the action is always focused on trade itself and the economic simulation lurking just beneath the waters. The story starts off with us taking advice from our very well-to-do Uncle who wants us to learn how to command mighty fleets of goods to sell all over the known world, eventually. We start in a single city with a lone ship flying our banner in the harbour, as already the world of Patrician IV is a buzz with rival houses buying and selling wares.

Always take note of what cities produce when defining a convoy route

Given the eventual scope of your bristling trade empire a lot needs to be automated as otherwise you’d become too bogged down with micromanaging your convoy fleets. You can select a ship and then, through the nautical map, assign them a trade route involving multiple cities. We can then select each city within a route and decide what action our captain will take. Again this part can be set so the AI will ‘figure out’ what to buy and what to sell each time it pulls in a harbour. While initially starting the game may seem daunting but you can quite easily just create a convoy of 2 ships, set them almost every city in the North of Europe and then tell the captains to buy and sell whatever the heck they want – you’ll eventually start raking in coin.

This is in fact both to Patrician IV’s credit and determent that the AI can easily ‘take over’ your trading empire for you, or at least the portion of the game requiring to buy and sell goods at each city. Areas which still fall entirely under the player’s purview are city politics, building investments like housing and production as well as maintaining your reputation. You aren’t suddenly dumped with all this responsibility though as progression is slowed down until certain degrees of wealth are reached and then your promoted to a new rank, with the option of assuming more privileges and rights. You can effectively become a cities supreme landlord as you gobble up real-estate with business or houses that you either bid for or construct from scratch, although buying a competitors building is rather ludicrously overpriced.

Ship captains make for pretty smart traders, doing the hard work for you

Each city produces its own set of goods and is then susceptible to everything else that it can’t, which means as these European centres grow so too will their appetites and needs. This of course ties into production which is something we can invest in ourselves when the time is right; lowering the cost of acquiring goods we can then sell at other cities for a nice mark-up. Again you don’t need to be particularly skilled in working out the best most efficient routes as the automatic parts of the convoy AI can easily bring in boat loads of wealth after it’s run a route a few times.

Advancing so far unlocks the next major obstacle to expanding trade which is piracy. Aside from building convoys to transport and flog merchant goods you can, and most likely will, set some up to run patrols around cities to take on pirate holdings as otherwise cities can be blockaded. There’s little tension to be had from the pirate gangs as this game doesn’t support any kind of thrilling naval combat – it’s all automatic with no real intervention by you. Just watching your ships ‘ping’ between trade cities isn’t exactly going to get the blood pumping but that’s why there are other pursuits thrown in to keep us busy with, like running for election and generally muscling in to a city council. You can even send ships on expeditions to discover parts of the world Western civilization has barely heard of, or even do a little high seas piracy yourself to hurt the competition. Plus later you can research better ships from universities that you’ve helped get built.

The cities grow without your help but then its harder to 'buy in' later

Visually Patrician IV is easy on the eye with water rippling in the harbour and the towns’ folk bustling about their day and flooding the main square. You can scale the game to work on an older PC no problem or crank up the fancier settings and get those GPU fans whizzing. This isn’t a game looking to rock your world or give Crysis a run for its money, it is after all a game centred on economic simulation, not high dose particle explosions. Navigating around is easy enough although it would help if the UI buttons were more clearly marked or at least have the tooltip popup shown instantly as otherwise it feels a bit like ‘pot luck’ as to what you’ve just clicked on. Some game mechanics could do with better explanation as there’s no tutorial to follow – although it doesn’t take long to figure out.

As of means of conquest by trade, Patrician IV is a good solid example that will offer merchant gamers something to chew on. If however you like a bit more turbulence as you lift yourself up and forge a seafaring empire then you’ll likely find yourself distracted as it can get boring once you realise your convoy captains practically run everything for you, and coin is in abundance. You might get the thrill of book keeping and juggling wares but little cutthroat action; it’s a little too easy.

Top Game Moment: Putting together a killer route (almost by accident) and buying that 3rd Cog.

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Comments

By Zergroph (I just got here) on Sep 20, 2010
Zergroph
Patrizier IV hat wenig zu bieten. Am Anfang etwas Handel, später nur noch kämpfe mit Piraten. Die Seekämpfe sind eintönig und können gegen die Seekämpfe von "Empire totalwar" nicht annähend konkurrieren. Mit Geld lässt sich relativ wenig kaufen. Städteentwicklung sind eher übersichtlich. Ich empfehle PC-Spiele wie "Die Gilde 2" oder "Anno 1404" wenn es um Wirtschaftssimulationen geht.
By ntsci (I just got here) on Sep 29, 2010
ntsci
You can fight navel battles if your ship is listed as a warship. To make the ship into a war ship, upgrade to cannons, and then click on the ship in the convoy. On the right side are four icon: the first looks like a ship, the second is a barrel, the third also look like a ship and the fourth looks like a map. The map is for automatic trading, and the barrel is for the good in the convoy. The first icon is the one that allows you to designate a ship as a war ship. Click on it, and then select a ship (one with cannons). On the screen there is a little button that appear that make the ship into a war ship - it turns green when clicked. This button is somewhat hard to find. The battles themselves are challenging because its hard to maneauver, but if you are good, you can win battles even when outgunned. Especially if you take advantage of the properties of your ship (e.g., a crayer is very fast, a Snaika turns easily, A Cog is slow but powerful). The previous Patricians III actully had better sea battles.
By dingerdave01 (I just got here) on Mar 27, 2011
dingerdave01
This game is in the top 3 of the worst waste of energy games of all time. Avoid it like the plague. It's wanky slidebar system, to it's impossible to figure convoy system, to trying to build stuff... forget it. This game sucks and I got suckered into it for $55 bucks at BB. LAME! Not to mention 5 or 6 updates to the tune of 3 or 4 hundred meg and the registration system so you can only play it on one computer. You've been warned! LOL