1503 AD: The New World
for a different sort of real-time strategy game?
EA and Sunflower may just have what you’re looking for.
1503 AD centers on commerce and civilization building instead of
combat like most games in the genre.
It’s a slow paced experience, and not for everyone, but the
leisurely nature of 1503 AD has its charms for those with some patience
and a thirst for a different take on real-time strategy.
point of 1503 AD is to start a colony, and slowly work your way through
the social strata, making your way from being a pioneer to a hoity-toity
aristocrat. Figuring out a
good layout for your colony is a must, figuring out where to put shops
and store houses relative to shipping lanes and houses to get the most
out of commerce. This can
be really fun, especially since players will often have to think on
their feet as their colony slowly expands across the land.
The real challenge comes in interpreting symbols indicating
trouble in various buildings’ production chains.
The symbols give a basic idea of what’s wrong, but even
referencing the manual, their meaning can be a bit vague requiring some
trial and error to get things back on track.
The technology chain is pretty good, and quite gratifying as new buildings become available during the game. These new items come along as your population increases as well as when you make it to a higher tier in your colony’s social standing. Technology largely comes in the forms of new types of businesses and the means to mine or refine materials better, resulting in more sophisticated items being produced and more income for the colony. Usually when your getting close to being at a stage where your colony is close to being able to make this new sort of building an icon shows up in the appropriate section of the construction menu. You can’t select it yet, but by placing the mouse over it you’re told what the basic requirements are that your colony must meet to open it up. This is a very helpful feature, and does a great job of making players want to work harder to get this new building.
selection of places to construct are wide-ranging, from places to
process raw materials such as mines and forester huts, to housing, to
markets, to places of public gathering.
They can be quite
costly to build, and really dig into your
colony’s expenses, possibly forcing it into the red.
This forces players to develop a delicate balancing act early on,
trying to keep the colony profitable while tending to the needs and
wants of its inhabitants. They
can be a fickle lot, so a lot of careful planning is needed to handle
the while, there are political considerations to keep in mind while
running your colony. Making
money is a key part to keeping your land on the up and up; so arranging
trade agreements is essential, and potentially quite profitable.
Also, keeping a military on hand to either seize land or to
protect your own property from other colonies is a must.
These facets don’t come into play until players have had some
time to nurture their colony, but it’s a good idea to lay down the
groundwork early on, otherwise players could find themselves in some
trouble later on.
a visual standpoint, 1503 AD is looking quite nice.
There’s a nice amount of detail being put into the colonists,
their structures, and the environments around them.
Lighting and the use of color is particularly pleasant, helping
add to the almost carefree, leisurely attitude of the game.
All the while the animation is very smooth as the days go by in
your colony. Musically, the
game is fabulous. There
were quite a few tunes from the game I found myself humming after
playing a quick round. They
have a feel true to the era the game takes place in, with an old, folky
vibe to them. Sound effects
are the usual mix of sounds related to the various buildings and people
making a comment when you command them to do something.
1503 AD is a fun departure from what we’ve come to expect from
real-time strategy games. The
slow pace of the game, even for a strategy title, will definitely turn
some off but those with some patience will find an entertaining
commerce-based RTS that will keep players plenty busy through the games
April 26, 2003
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