What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the production of alcohol and tobacco products is one small part of the economic strategy of this simulation game about building an empire in the 1700s. Also, players can use ground and navel forces to dominate opponents by force, although that isn't a focus of the game. There is an online multiplayer option, and Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for kids under 12. The game encourages cooperation and diplomacy through trade and economic agreements with other players, and it advises players to take a break if they have been playing for more than two hours.
What's it about?
This is the third game in Sunflowers/Related Designs' city-building simulation series. The overall concept in 1701 AD is to colonize an island and get it to prosper through shrewd trade and the occasional use of military might. The queen funds the initial voyage and provides enough to start a little fishing village. To grow the tax base, it's in the player's best interest to advance the village's populace all the way into the aristocracy.
That's when the challenges start. Since the player's island doesn't have all of the natural resources needed to keep the populace happy, new islands have to be settled, and trade partnerships started to keep goods -- like chocolates, jewelry, and even beer -- coming in. As time goes by, the going gets rougher. Soon the queen demands a tidy return on her initial investment; plagues, volcanoes, and a whole host of other calamities can knock a player's colony back to the dark ages; and military action becomes a distinct possibility.
Is it any good?
Players will find much to like in this game. The menus and controls remain elegantly designed, allowing players to micro-manage without it seeming overwhelming or boring. Updated graphics sparkle with fun little details. The challenge is appropriate, and players will quickly find themselves being warned by the game that they have been playing for a couple hours and might want to take a break.
The grievances are few and small. Although the game has multiplayer capability, at least over the Internet, it isn't a great option. It simply takes too long to get to the point where the level of interaction with other players gets interesting. Also, although battle sequences are stronger than in the previous renditions, they're not going to get many military strategists excited -- only a few troop types exist and winning a battle usually depends solely on who has the biggest army.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the game's design. It was produced by a European company -- does it look different from American games you play? If so, how? Kids can also talk about what they learned about this time period. Would you want to live back then?