The Settlers: Rise of an Empire
We've Au Built a few towns in our lives. Some of us build towns in order to test our resource management skills. Other people build towns called Bumland and drop Godzilla-esque monsters on the Fire Department. I'm one of the latter, but the sixth Settlers game coaxed me effortlessly into the first camp. Mostly because you can't name your towns - the best I got was to call my Queen Reg Grundy.
You'll know the score, because it's an old one; deal with two primary resources (wood and stone, for buildings) then place the right buildings in the right places and watch as an automated economy appears. Meanwhile, you send your knight (and soldiers) around like a boiled-down RTS, doing errands for friendly - but cheeky -neighbours and fighting off a few Vikings. Hats off to the difficulty curve; the game has a great way of guiding you into, rather than telling you to do things. I'm not suggesting that giving fewer hints as the game progresses is a thrilliog new innovation in tutorial technology - just that Rise of an Empire balances respect for the player with a subtle guiding nudge in the back. It's like spooning with your teacher, without the ethical problems and the angry mobs.
There's an earnest mirthlessness that's positively Teutonic, but the game works all the better for it. The Settlers is a gentle, hypnotising affair that might break the spell with too much whimsical bluster.
As it stands, the game's main problem is that it's not really doing anything ground-breaking - although how you'd reinvent the town-building genre is beyond me - and that you're occasionally left with nothing much to do but click on your storeroom. The upside of idleness is that you're not bogged down in micromanagement, or hundreds of sliders.
Die line I like best from the press blurb is this. It demands to know "is your division of labour, and supply of goods efficient enough to be able to defeat your opponent?" If that sentence has you thumping the table and bellowing Yes, yes my labour network is bloody efficient, and I'll manage you to the brink of madness." then this is the game for you.
Download The Settlers: Rise of an Empire
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP