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Anno 1404/Discovery Venice review
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  1. #1

    Default Anno 1404/Discovery Venice review

    These days coporate commericialism is everywhere. You might wander down your high street with the sole intention of buying some socks and you end up spending the equivalent of Zambia's world debt on utter crap and feeling oddly violated and gleeful. Everything from love, holidays, leisure, and everywhere in between seem to be stained with the touch of a corporate overlord seemingly clawing at your wallet or purse in an atempt to eek out any money you have, and even money you don't have. It's no surprise that a charity supporting a disaster-struck area of the world some years ago reported a destitute child that had refused a pair of NIKEs because he preferred Adidas, and walked away bare-footed. At times the world seems like a fattened, corporate pig .. and we're all suckling. So, let's roll back the clock to the year 1404 when the most people had to worry about was the plague and whether it was actually even possible to covet someone's ox ..

    Anno 1404 .. Discovery .. in venice .. with leppers

    So, by way of a recap Anno 1404, or Dawn of Discovery, or Discovery (called a different name depending on where you are in the world) was released a few years ago developed by the German wing of UbiSoft, and follows as part of a series of 'Anno' games over the years. The original game was very much a large-scale management RTS similar to other games like the Age of Empires series, the Civilisation series and so on, where you start a game with a man with a stick and end the game with a sprawling empire. The biggest difference is that Anno 1404 is about trade, with military operations being very much a minor part of the game except for sea battles. In essence Anno 1404 is a very detailed version of its predecessors or 'wannabes', with sumptuous graphics and engaging gameplay that made it one of the highlights of last year despite it not having to leap up and down about its brilliance. Now, we have this new expansion that brings the beauty of Venice to the game, as well as adding some other huge improvements ..

    What's in the expansion?

    Here's a brief run-down of what this Venice expansion contains:

    • The rich Anno 1404 environment gets complemented with a new Venetian setting offering new possibilities of interaction:
    o Build two new Venetian ship types: the small and big tradesman cog
    o Develop secret cabinets, infiltrate your enemies and sabotage their expansion
    o Take control over enemy cities thanks to your influence in the cities’ council board

    • Play Anno 1404 online in a multiplayer mode:
    o Choose to play versus or coop to defeat the AI by combining your techniques
    o Up to 8 players

    • New challenges and quests:
    o Up to 60 new items and 300 new quests with two new types: trading race and ship boarding
    o Discover and exploit a new type of island, the Volcano island
    o New scenarios to face new challenges with new achievements, medals and crests
    A lot of these might seem pretty standard, and you could be forgiven for thinking they should've been in the original game (so did the 1404 community), but what this expansion effectively does is take an awesome game and make it more awesome.

    The expansion hands-on

    The first thing that the expansion offers is a huge set of scenarios that go from quite easy diplomatic ones to much harder missions that will test the hardiest of 1404 players. What's great about these is that you can drop in and out of games that might take a good few days or longer to complete, with a whole bunch of achievements for each one. Even if you want to play a continuous game (one of the game modes that allows you to define the win conditions yourself, and can last a VERY long time) there's lots of the new elements to enjoy. You can dabble with the new spying and council facilities to interrupt your opponents progression, do a bunch of the new and varied missions, and get your hands dirty in the Venician world.

    The biggest thing this expansion offers is the chance to meet up with friends and take on other people or the NPCs. This multiplayer element was an aspect that made a lot of Anno fans gawp in amazement when it wasn't included in the original game. The worry was that the standard game wouldn't hold enough enjoyment to make it last, but then once the game was actually released they generally found that it had a HUGE amount to do which made up for it a bit. However, now the expansion is out and with it the ability to join multiplayer games the community is mostly welcoming it with open arms and lapping it up.

    So, buy it? Don't buy it? Ignore it?

    I found this expansion very very good indeed. Yes it would be easy for me to say that a lot of the new features should really have been in the original, but now they're here and combined with all the new extras it's hard not to love it even more. Having not played Anno 1404 for a few months I went back to it and the expansion expecting it to not engage me as much .. I was wrong. There's a massive amount of depth in the game, and you can easily spend hours, days, and weeks just playing through one scenario or continuous game and not get bored. The new aspects bring a lot of extra gameplay too to extend a great game's already great greatness (er .. yeah).

    As usual the game looks absolutely beautiful, and despite its sophisticated looks the game still holds its own with gameplay. The game isn't a push-over by any means - you can't just plop stuff down and ignore it, this is a challenging game, and the new features add to the complexity and enjoyment of it all massively. There's a LOT of fun to be had here too, and for those who like a proper management game who are also graphics junkies you can't really get better. So, should you get it? Yes .. yay. However, you might find that in around a month's time companies like Steam will offer a bundled deal making it more cost efffective, with the current price being about the same price as a DVD.

    Making a great game even better .. excellent.

    Last edited by jango; 03-03-2010 at 02:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Awesome looking game. Graphically it reminds me of Black & White2, not really abd thing. And I love games that let you build and customize.

    Great review, very comprehensive for an expansion pack. +rep
    "Prediction: Zenimax Online is making an MMO set in the elder scrolls universe" -BobTD 8-25-2010 (search it on the forum)

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by BobTD View Post
    Awesome looking game. Graphically it reminds me of Black & White2, not really abd thing. And I love games that let you build and customize.

    Great review, very comprehensive for an expansion pack. +rep
    thanks mate .. i can assure you this game and the expansion are vastly superior .. imo it's the best rts since age of empires 2, and well worth every penny/cent

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