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Reviewed: 1602 A.D.
Author: Chris Kim       Date: February 12th 2000
Page: 2

As stated before, 1602 A.D. has a very long and rich past over in the European market, receiving rave reviews and praise for its deep and immersive gameplay as a civilization builder. In the European market, the game was known as Anno 1602, when the game made the transition over to the U.S. market, several changes and enhancements were integrated into the game before launch. First of all, the game is over a year old in European, released in late 1998, since then even an expansion set has been released for it. What the U.S. version of the game brings is both the original game and expansion set integrated into one set, so players will get just as much gameplay, maps, enhancements, and all the extras that many Europeans would have had to purchase separately to get. Also included is a scenario editor that allows users to design scenarios. All these gameplay elements and editors will be discussed later.

So much can European developer Sunflowers know about civilization builders? Well if this game is any indication, they took off from all other hugely popular and successful games such as Civilization and Settlers and blended them together for another game. The game is more than just a empire builder, but also incorporates some real time strategy combat play via the Age of Empires/Warcraft way.

From Above
Service Area
Sea Battle

As stated before, 1602 A.D. incorporates two genres, real time strategy and empire building. Therefore, gamers must be able to construct a huge empire for their citizens to live in and enjoy life, while also attaining a strong and large army to fleet off any pirates or wars that may occur. The empire building side of the game allows players to really explore and just build at their free nature. Similar to how Civilization works, 1602 A.D. puts players on a location and they must build, build, and build to make their name more known and powerful while still attaining the popularity of other countries and your own people. This tasks requires the knowledge of giving the citizens what they want such as food, tobacco, alcohol, and spices while giving tribute to other countries with peace treaties and trade agreements. All this must occur while maintaining a balanced budget of selling and buying commodities to keep the economy going well, otherwise the player will end up losing money, resulting in unhappy citizens. All this may sound overwhelming, but the game integrates most of these components very well which allows for a very deep and complex game, but never too difficult to play or master.

The smallest portion of the game is the real time strategy part where players will battle for property or something of the sort. There are two different battles, sea and land. Sea battle is quite straightforward requiring the player to have cannons and weapons that fire as they will attack ship to ship, whoever ends up landing the more devastating hits will win the confrontation. These battles can occur with either warring nations or between pirates as well. Land battles while not as grand in scale, occur to conquer or destroy a civilization. Just like a real time strategy, units will be built in the city and then loaded onto a ship and transported from island to island to accomplish the task. While this battle system isn't great, it does suffice for the job it sets out to accomplish.

Welcome to My Hood
Hey Farmer
Weed?

Civilization building is the main focus of the game. Players will start out with a warehouse, where commodities and other products will be traded freely, moving stuff back and forth from place to place. Branching from this warehouse are all other buildings such as houses, cattle ranches, and churches. Just like real life, all the people that settle in start as pioneers then as the city becomes more advanced they climb up the social ladder all the way to an aristocrat once the time has passed by with superior technology/buildings. But also as the people climb the ladder, their needs become greater and greater. When the game first beings, it won't take much or anything at all to satisfy the citizens, perhaps just some food will suffice for them. After that, citizens will want such items as tobacco, public baths, and fire protection. Players will just then need to build such buildings to accommodate their requests. Each of these service buildings comes with a service area or area that such commodities can be grown and provided for. For example, a forester that collects and ships would, has a service area that must be within the raw materials, which would be trees in his area. Then as the game progresses on, the forester will chop down the trees in the area to provide wood for building and construction of other buildings. This building system is very fun to work with. It offers a great depth and value for the gamer that is quite rewarding if played correctly.

Another crucial part of the game is the management of resources. There are four basic resources and several others that citizens will required to succeed. The basic necessities are gold, wood, tools, and bricks, all which are used extensively in construction of buildings and structures. All these resources are acquired through trade or construction in the appropriate buildings and structures from the players. Management of these resources is require for any type of success. Such items as taxes and providing items are all proportional, tax rates must accommodate with the resources provided otherwise the citizens will be unhappy.

Horse Shoe Path
Where to Build...?
The Iron Gates

Combine the resource building/collecting with trading system and then you've got a full economy game. 1602 A.D. also incorporates a primitive trading game where players can develop relationships and treaties with other nations to form a trade pact. A trading route is formed between nations via boat where players can make demands on prices and request levels of how much product to sell at how much. The appropriate level can either seriously cripple the player's relationships or can really enhance it depending on the demand of a product or if they are giving them a good deal on the product. Although it may sound good, the micromanagement and time that is required to maintain the trading is tedious and cumbersome. The trading system isn't terribly flawed, but it is very difficult to accomplish tasks at a readily quick pace.

What game would be complete without a full scenario and set of campaigns? 1602 A.D. has a seven full campaigns for players to enjoy with over forty different single scenarios to enjoy while also offering a simple continuous play mode where the game doesn't have objectives or restrictions. All of the missions aren't exactly enticing or exciting, but they do offer plenty of challenge by plotting the player against several different situations where the computer is bound to be very difficult to rough to play against. The slight drought of the game, however, is that all of the missions certain feel the same and differ very little from one another. But gamers shouldn't look over this little incite as the game itself offers great replay value and challenge as each situation brings another circumstance and difficulty.

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Added:  Saturday, February 12, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Score:
Page: 2/5

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