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Ever had fantasies about controlling someone's destiny or being able to tell them what to do and where to go and have them obey every word? Settlers II gives you the chance to do exactly that. The Settlers have left you in charge. You're the big kahoona, the big cheese, the big guy. Just pick yourself a title and start ordering people around!!
On board the Tortius you and your merry band of Romans and several passengers set sail to the Roman Latonic Provinces, a journey that should take about 4 days of sailing. Unfortunately, your route takes you through the "Sea of Storms" and for four nights your ship is tossed about like a toy by the stormy seas. Hopelessly off course, it is on this last night of storms that your lookout sees the fatally close rocks, illuminated by bolts of lightning, that spell disaster for the Tortius. The following day your crew and the remaining passengers gather up all that can be salvaged from the wreck and head into the interior of the island. A new life must be forged as rescue seems unlikely. Fortunately, the island is fertile and survival seems likely. The Settlers have left you in charge and they are prepared to follow all of your orders without question. Their fate is in your hands. Your mission statement is simple; prosper, explore and conquer all that you see in true Roman fashion.
All the supplies that could be salvaged from the Tortius have been gathered together in your headquarters. You must use these supplies to help build a thriving community here on the island. Each Settler has his own type of house where he works and lives. It is up to you to decide where each house will go so that that type of Settler can best do his job. Oh yes, you'll have to build a road to the house from the headquarters. You are Romans after all, and the roads are essential as they are the lifeblood of everything that goes on in your community. Some planning is required to make sure that goods flow properly from place to place. Bottlenecks are to be avoided as they could cost you dearly, especially if you are fighting your computer opponents. Yes, as you will discover, you are not alone on this island. It will be up to you to decide if they will be allies or enemies. Playing politics is also part of making this community grow and prosper. This truly is a "strategic economic simulation".
Once you've enjoyed the title movie, the main menu provides several choices. The Campaign mode is basically a short story divided up into as many as ten missions. Each mission or chapter can be played in sequence or replayed if you feel you could have done things differently. Depending on how you complete a chapter, you may branch further than the next chapter. The first chapter is designed to be something of a tutorial as it takes you step by step through all the things you will need to do to make your community prosper. The second follows this pattern and an advisor lets you know what you should be doing next.
In the Free game, once you know how to play, this is where all the action is. You choose from eighteen different scenarios, pick your enemies and many other options. You get to pick; a map, which alliances you will have with your neighbors, when the game is won, how much material is in your headquarters at the beginning, whether you need to explore the areas around your border, and what starting sequence to use when starting a game. The free game is also where you can play a two-player game with the screen split in two. To play with this mode, you will need a second mouse though. Other choices allow to load a previous game, resume your last game, pick the screen resolution, and watch the introduction or the credits.
When starting Settlers 2, you'll have to concentrate on establishing a source of raw building materials. The island has many trees and stones, so, you'll need a woodcutter and a stonecutter. Once the trees are down you'll also require a sawmill to process the wood, a forester to plant new trees or risk running out, and a fisherman to catch fish. A hunter will provide some fresh meat, and farms some grain, pigs and donkeys. When you have enough grain, you can build a mill, bakery and brewery. You can also dig for coal, iron, gold and granite using an iron smelter, a metal works, an armory and a mint. Don't forget some wells for fresh water for all the various people and animals, a slaughterhouse for the pigs, some storehouses for the surplus, whew, and that's not all.
In order to expand your borders you have to establish a military. Building barracks on the edge of your territory will expand that territory allowing for more growth and expansion. As your domain expands, you'll learn how to build larger structures such as guardhouses, watchtowers, fortresses, lookout towers and even catapults. Your soldiers will gain experience as they battle your enemies, which makes them stronger and more able to fend off attacks and to launch successful raids against the enemy. Once you've conquered the land you'll be able to expand into the sea. Shipyards can be used to build the ships that will enable you to explore the surrounding islands. This also means you'll need a source of wood...need I say more?
Throughout the game it is wise to plan ahead and keep track of what is going on. If your coal mine is exhausted, you won't be able to make weapons, tools or gold coins. If you run out of trees or stones, building new houses and structures won't be posssible. If you run out of food, production will stop and houses will start emptying out. If you're attacked, more soldiers will go to the border to defend your territory. You have to pay your soldiers in gold coins and make sure that they have plenty of beer to drink. Like a net, each pull of a rope impacts the whole community.
Fortunately you've been provided with all the tools to keep track and to remedy any situations that arise. Four administration windows allow you to see what is going on and to make decisions about what needs to be fixed. A system of windows makes this possible. The Map window allows you to see the entire island detailing the land you've settled, the locations of your buildings, and the road network you've established. You can then jump to any point on the map to see what's going on. Your Main Selection gives you an overview of the following: distribution of goods, transport, tools, general statistics, merchandise statistics, buildings, stock, productivity, military, ship register and game menu. Construction mode turns on a visual aid for building roads and building. Gold flags and different sized houses appear to help make decisions. The Post Office window is where you'll receive important information about what is happening in your realm, a pigeon appearing when you have mail. If playing in campaign mode you'll also be able to see your current mission objective. Other windows allow you to peer inside any building to see if it has all the material it needs for its function, and productivity. You can temporarily halt production or burn this building down through the same window, which is useful for buildings that no longer have a function. Every window has a help button outlining its function. An activity window helps you carry out your orders. This can range from sending out scouts or geologists to choosing what type of building to build at a location. This window is also used to build or tear down roads and to zoom in and follow specific settlers as they go about their business. Big Brother has nothing on compared to this. All that being said, it is just the tip of the iceberg. This game is infinitely complex and variable. You'll be able to monitor statistics on every aspect of life on the island and make changes to every detail as well. Fortunately everything is designed to run smoothly and defaults are in place that can help restore order if you've pushed things out of whack. The beauty is that you can get as involved as you possibly can or just sit back and watch the Settlers go about their business.
This is one of the more visually captivating games that I've seen in a long time. Each detail has been rendered from the facial expressions of the Settlers to the hammering of the builders to the details of the buildings, plants animals and flowers. The sounds are also as detailed. The hammering of the smithy, the pulling of water from a well, the digging of the stonecutter, the chopping and falling of a tree, everything is there for the senses. Each community has its own distinct rich color scheme and each profession has its own costume. Even the little ducks seem to be enjoying themselves. You can even pick the background music in either midi format or played directly from the CD. No detail was spared to make your time in this world complete and pleasurable.
As with most CD-ROMs, installation is made simple. With auto-play turned on in Windows 95 you need worry about nothing. The only downside is that it uses up about 30 Mb of hard-disk space. Playing direct from the CD is not an option. The game can be played without the CD direct from the hard-drive, but the intro movie and the CD soundtrack would be unavailable. This games runs equally well under Windows 95 and DOS.
Written by Glenn Soucy
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Schamburg, IL 60193.
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