Anno 2070 review

Type: Strategy/City Building Developer:  Bluebyte Software Release Date:  Nov 17, 2011 Official Website:  http://anno-game.ubi.com/anno-2070/en-GB/home/ There hasn’t been a lot of clamoring for new city building games lately, and most people […]

Type: Strategy/City Building
Developer:  Bluebyte Software
Release Date:  Nov 17, 2011
Official Website:  http://anno-game.ubi.com/anno-2070/en-GB/home/

There hasn’t been a lot of clamoring for new city building games lately, and most people who think of “city building” instantly conjure the thought of the classic SimCity at near instant speeds.  It’s true that SimCity really brought the whole genre out into the open world of gaming, but little do most gamers know that the very same genre is nowhere near death.

Games like Tropico and Anno have really cornered the market, and die-hard fans of these kind of games love them.  And so they should, considering they really are great games to begin with.  And although this genre is far from being dead, it certainly isn’t growing either.

The modern gamer is far too absorbed into the cinematic experience most shooters and similar games provide to enjoy something that’s more slow-paced.  For the most part, games that have him pondering the inner workings of a city’s tax code and rush-hour traffic flow through just aren’t even on his radar.

The Anno Series has always been a little different than the normal City Building fare, which is what makes them stand out.  In Anno, you don’t just build one city.  Instead, you use resources collected from one city and use them to colonize a new island and build another city.  Depending on the islands you colonize, you’ll end up with different resources that can be used to bolster your defense or placate the unwashed mob.  Think of it as SimCity with multiple players and lots of trade ships.

Then in walks Anno 2070 to add another twist: this one takes place in the future!  Albeit a not-so-bright future, but the future nonetheless!  This iteration takes us to the year 2070 (surprise) where Earth is having some trouble.  Apparently, we squandered everything we had and polluted about the place to such an extent that the ice caps started to melt.  Not cool.

Now a majority of the land we used to thrive upon is underwater, and we’re forced to colonize new land that was formerly mountaintops and other stretches of untouched earth.  By using state-of-the-art “Arks” (big floating offshore platforms that house tons of people and supplies), players assume the role of a dear figurehead that follows orders given to him by his corporate overlords.

That’s where things really start to change.  In previous Anno games you’re given a ship by your king and are told to go make things rich — and you think that don’t have a care in the world.  This game changes things up a bit.  Depending on what you build and where, your city’s visual feel changes, as well as what you can produce and trade.

For instance, there are two kinds of factions vying for power and your attention.  There’s the big, mean, profit-first corporation whose sole goal is to make money and scour the Earth.  If you build their buildings and use their technology, your city is going to look like a bleak, smoggy future China with oil spills and acid soil.

There’s also the hippie, green-loving, high-tech faction that’s trying to reverse the effects of the Earth’s meltdown.  Build and use their technology and your cities are going to look like island paradises with utopian dwellings and futuristic spires breaching the heavens.

But then again, there’s balance to be had.  Eventually you’re going to need something that only one of the factions can produce, and that’s where you’re forced to leave your comfort zone, and colonize a new island with a different faction.

But plopping down a few homes and starter buildings won’t be enough.  Soon your new city will need things that your first city can produce, so you’ll have to set up a trade network.  Soon your seas will be bustling with freighters picking up and dropping off goods at breakneck speeds, trying to supply your metropolises with things your citizens will crave and eventually need to level up into a new social class.

Then of course, there are enemies.  Most of the time, unless you’re playing a peaceful game, you’ll have either AI or real-life opponents to contend (or trade) with.  That means making sure some of your resources are earmarked for protecting your supple trade lanes, as well as expanding them to deal with the new upkeep costs.  Soon you’ll have warships, port turrets and armies ready to fight back the corporate hordes, or if you’re feeling a little Genghis Khan-like, go on the offensive and pillage the seas.

There’s even a third faction of scientists that, when found and sweet-talked, will provide you the means to delve into the depths of the seas and colonize underwater!  That’s right!  Underwater cities!  These kind of cities can help you gather oil and other sea-based resources — like kelp food and other stuff whose potential is yet untapped.  Using submarines, you can do all the kinds of things you could topside, but with limitations on size and storage.

But of course, nothing is perfect — well very rarely anyway — and there are some parts of Anno 2070 that can get kind of annoying.

First of all, it’s an Anno game.  If you are a complete noob to this series, then you might want to make sure you go into this game knowing exactly what you’re getting into.  It’s got a moderate learning curve, and this title might be the easiest of the entire series to grasp.   But be warned, new players can easily get lost with all the commands, buildings and goals.  Once you get the hang of it all, however, you’ll be glad you made the jump.

The combat is also a little underwhelming.  The ships look awesome in this game, as do the rest of the graphics as a whole, but the fighting is just a tad bit weak.  Ship, turrets, and other units just trade shots at each other as their health bars slowly dwindle away.  It could have used a little overhaul in this department, but not too much to really complain about here.

Also, where are the different terrain types?  Older versions of Anno had deserts and rocky hillscapes; a few expansions had an oriental land you could go to trade with.  But with 2070, it’s more or less just big green islands, and that’s it.  Really?  I mean I’m sure we’ll see an expansion at some point that will alleviate some of that, but I want it now dammit!

Otherwise, Anno 2070 is a great city building game with the potential to re-ignite the genre.  It’s innovative, beautiful, intelligent, and soothing to play — with the only downsides being its complexity and potential to turn away new players.  I heartily recommend this game to anyone that’s still in that empire/city building niche player group, as well as those of you who believe a stagnant genre can still return to glory.

Graphics: 9/10
Game Play: 8/10
Replay Value: 10/10
Overall: 9/10

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