|a game by||Related Designs Software GmbH, and Blue Byte Studio GmbH|
|Platforms:||DS, Wii, PC|
|User Rating:||7.0/10 - 2 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||Anno Games, Medieval Games|
The Worst Thing about any god game is the fact they all seem so impenetrable, that you can spend hours on one and barely have any idea about what you're doing (Paradox, we're looking at you here). In contrast to most mainland European god games then, Anno 1404 does ease you into its gameplay relatively well. There aren't any massive blocks of small text to read through for two hours, only to discover that was only the first of seven tutorials. Everything is done through the power of the voice (and some helpful arrows). Yes, there are some little issues with it, but generally you get settled in (no pun intended) pretty sharpish, trading away and ferrying goods about the place.
Visually, the game is pleasant, and the scenery bright and colourful. Your citizens and peasants go about their business, though it isn't as easy to watch them doing so as we'd have liked. The zoom levels aren't subtle enough to allow for this, so you'll have to be content with an overview of your nascent kingdom. The object of the game is to build up your tiny settlement into a continent-spanning metropolis, through the means of good town planning, sensible building choices and wise trading decisions. I'm not a massive god-'em-up fanatic, but Anno definitely does everything required of the genre. The thing is, does it do enough to attract people who aren't too excited about the prospect of assigning trade privileges to their citizens?
I think the answer is that it probably doesn't. What it does, it does very well, but there isn't any dramatic redefining of genre boundaries going on. You gather resources, you place buildings and you repeat. The campaign mode helps streamline this, with friendly (and occasionally patronising) talking heads asking you to deliver this or provide that for them. If you don't fancy that, just pop over to the continuous game or try out the scenarios. There are achievements to aim for too, but you probably won't be too bothered by them.
One thing the game doesn't do well is run. By that, of course, I mean that there were significant drops in the frame rate (the game froze temporarily) when certain things happened, like when the talking heads appeared, for example. Other than that, there were no obvious bugs to prevent enjoyment of the sandbox mode. Apparently there are a couple of issues in the campaign mode, but we didn't actually come across them. Just like the game itself, the campaign is solid. It might sound trite, but if you like god games there's nothing here you won't have seen before. But at least you know what you're getting.