Anno 1602 A.D.
If you’ve already spent many hours watching those little people in The Settlers, or pondering the diplomatic quirks of Imperialism, and the colorful if maddeningly elusive economic fluctuations of Caesar III, you will instantly, and permanently, be struck with a sense of familiarity upon embarking on 1602 A.D.
This is one of those tough-to-call strategy titles. It has few glaring faults, but does a mildly adequate job of providing the experience promised on the box covers. It’s visually appealing at times, and if you really get off on loading, transporting, and selling lots of goods, you will find ample trade activities to indulge yourself in. The development / construction phase can, in fact, be entertaining (at least up to mid-game) in a cathartic, Sim City-esque way. You could even call it “deep” if your definition of depth is a lenient one.
Each facility generates a “service area” within which it functions optimally; you don’t have to explore every square foot of an island to find out what resources it holds; the mechanistic routines of trade can be set on “automatic”; there’s a single-player editor that allows you, after an investment of considerable time and energy, to generate games that are marginally more entertaining than those concocted by the AI.
Nothing appears to have been done to spiff up the graphics. They’re not terrible, though not nearly as detailed as those of Corsairs or Settlers, and nowhere near as grand as in Caesar. The interface creaks along: functional but neither intuitive nor elegant. Being able to rotate the main map is helpful, but unfortunately, you can’t do that (or anything else) with the minimalist strategic map. Navigation on the seas is often more problematic than it was in the age of the sextant. If you haven’t tried one of these empire-building games, and you want to see what it’s all about, you could do worse.
System Requirements: Pentium 133 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, Win95