1701 A.D. Preview

1701 A.D. (Anno 1701 in Europe) is the third game in a series of semi-historical, city building sims from German developer Sunflowers Interactive Entertainment. The previous games fared well throughout Europe, but failed to make much of an impact across the ocean in North America. A demo was released today for North American folks featuring a tutorial, one single player mission and a multiplayer mission, in total, a hefty 875 MB.

Hands down, the visuals are absolutely stunning. Plop down a village center (contains stores, some animal pens and a fountain/statue) and some houses, and you’ll immediately see the detail the developers put in. Once the villagers leave their homes, they’ll go pray at the statue, mingle in and around their homes or go shopping. The water reflects beautifully, the shadowing enhances the game’s immersion without bogging down standard systems. Bloom is used tastefully. Birds fly, waves lap against the shoreline and people go about their lives without repeating animations or stumbling around foolishly. Build a fisherman’s hut next to a shoreline and you’ll witness the fisherman troll the waters for fish, and another wheels the catch of the day to the village center. Build a sheep farm for wool and you’ll see groups of sheep grazing. The city life animations are top-notch.

The city simulation aspect of the game involves standard city creation. The number of buildings you can create and how much you can expand your civilization is based on levels; at the lowest pioneer level, you can only create basic buildings like a village center, pioneer homes, and small business huts ( the fisherman is your friend). If you wish to expand to higher levels, you’ll have to satisfy specific needs. Pioneers, for example, only need adequate food and wood while the next level, settlers, need more cloth (supplied by sheep and weavers) and faith (supplied by a chapel). Once you advance, buildings will undergo a visual upgrade; going from pioneers to settlers turns flimsy wood homes to brick homes, and you’ll see your citizens appreciate the upgrade; complete with a band playing in the village center.

The next level is citizen, and their needs include alcohol (of course), tobacco (big in Europe) and education (also big in Europe). Of course, your stretch of land may not always supply all the needs you need to keep your citizens happy. Therefore, the gameplay opens up, so you can explore other lands to see if they have suitable amounts of materials to fulfill your needs. You can steer a ship to investigate other islands, and then you can build buildings to either gather the material you need or expand your civilization.

The game also features minor RTS combat gameplay. When sailing the seas, you can come across pirates and other bloodthirsty foes. The battles are worth watching, as are the natural disasters. These acts of God (which include volcanic activity, earthquakes, and twisters) shake things up.

Four-player multiplayer is in the works, as well. Folks can compete or engage in co-op play across the various maps or attempt the online scenario mode against the computer. Time will tell if American gamers will embrace this game or not, but judging from the demo and its highly detailed visuals and relatively easy game play, there’s nothing to complaining about yet.

1701 A.D. will set sail on October 26.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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