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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Kalypso

 

Developer

Gaming Minds

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 14, 2010

 

 

- Deep gameplay
- Effective visuals
- Distinctive subject matter

 

 

- Naval combat feels unpolished
- Pirates seem like an empty threat

- Merely average audio
- Very slow pacing

 

 

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Patrician IV

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

patrician iv          patrician iv

 

Sitting through world history class in junior high, I can remember the brief attention that was paid to the Hanseatic League. To hear the teacher and the textbook tell it, the Hanseatic League was a fluke, an entity that came about by dumb luck and quietly faded into the dustbin of history. A collection of traders, bound by mutual agreement, driven by the desire to make stupid amounts of money at any cost, done in by the inertia of feudal lords and princes. Gaming Minds paints a somewhat more vibrant picture of the League and the merchant princes who formed it's core, letting players take on the role of a budding trader who could potentially become the head of the largest trading cartel in Europe, assuming said players are patient enough to make it happen.

From a visual standpoint, Patrician IV is very well done, but at the same time the amount of artistry is rather circumscribed. There are really only three types of map

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that players can look at, and all of them feel strangely cramped, even when you're in the midst of a naval duel with pirates on the high seas. The level of detail on buildings in towns and ships out on the water is very nicely done. Meanwhile, the special effects such as water movement, cannon fire, and flying debris are cleanly executed, but only the water effects are likely to really stick in

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the player's mind. There are some characters who speak with you briefly should you deliver goods in a timely fashion to a neighboring city, or should you irritate the prince of a city by building up your own production facilities. The visual style is consistent across the board and is nicely done.

Folks looking for fast paced action in Patrician IV are likely to be disappointed. While the game is constantly running, and while it's possible to temporarily accelerate the passage of time, the actual pace of the game can arguably be called "sedate."

You may be in the trading game, but it's a game that favors slow deliberate growth over rapid expansion. Players who look to build quick will have to have patience in building up sufficient supplies of materials to fuel their expansions, and will have to be patient as it may take some time for structures and new trading vessels to actually be completed. Those looking for fast money will doubtlessly rediscover the use of triangle routes and maximize them accordingly, though they should be aware that fast money isn't always big money. While trade routes can be automated with a minimum of effort, it takes a lot of tweaking to get the most out of them. One seemingly large flaw I've noticed in the game revolves around pirates. During the main campaign, you regularly hear about pirates and eventually can pick up contracts to go hunting them.

 

patrician iv          patrician iv


However, it seems as if the game has something of a "live and let live" setting insofar as pirates attacking your ships. From what I could discern, if you don't arm your ships and don't try to go hunting for pirates, they don't attack your convoys. Naval combat itself seems to take a page from Sid Meier's Pirates!, but doesn't feel quite as polished. The political elements of the game don't come in until much later, when you've not only established your presence in multiple towns and made yourself sufficiently popular to unseat the ruling mayor, but can juggle the politics with the trade empire that props you up.

Much like the trading model, the political model doesn't allow for lightning strokes. You have to build your political presence slowly, bringing the cities that make up the League into your sphere of influence one by one. Much like the real world, the public has a short memory for what you've done for them, so building up sufficient influence in a town is combination of bringing in goods, jobs, and good old fashion vote buying that takes a tremendous amount of time.

Fans of the Patrician series will doubtlessly find a lot to enjoy from the newest iteration. Those who haven't been exposed to it before will find a very deep trading and city building simulation, but the pace may turn off players who prefer their empires built in a day.

 

- Axel Cushing

(January 5, 2011)

 

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