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The Colonists – Alpha, First Impressions

The Colonists – Alpha, First Impressions

Codebyfire the developers behind Settlers inspired game The Colonists had been quiet for quite some time. Then out of nowhere came a trailer, a ray of hope for those who had been keeping tabs on the game since it was first announced over a year ago. It seemed that somewhere deep inside the matrix of game development, cogs were beginning to turn and foundations were being laid. I had to find out more about this mysterious game.

With The Colonists being in it’s alpha stage of development there are currently only pre-set scenarios for me to try out. As it turns out these are a good way to get to grips with the game and what it has to offer. The first couple of scenarios have me exploring the basics of building my town, advancing technologies and managing resources. Scenarios three and four teach me about building boats to explore the seas and combat with other colonies. And each of the scenarios after that include most of the same but at an advanced level.

Resource management is a big thing in this game and keeping tabs on how your resources are used will help you advance much quicker. Thankfully there is a ‘supply and demand’ menu for each resource which shows if you are falling behind or overproducing. In my eyes this is something that a lot of management games could do with having. It helps you make much more informed decisions when choosing what to build next and can explain why overall production rate of your city has stalled.

Overall the gameplay in The Colonists is pleasant and enjoyable. The game goes at a nice pace (you can make time move as you want) the graphics are cute and its quite a relaxing game to play for the most part. Some of the building material needs seem a little anti-progression however. For example; you run out of stone and need to expand your territory to find more deposits. To do this you build a watchtower so you can see further, but building a watchtower requires stone… see where I’m going with this. Thankfully it is slowly auto-generated but without proper management of resources, this can be a very slow process.

If there’s one thing that I would point out at this stage it’s that overall game progress is easily halted by bad resource management. This may be entirely my fault in that my style of gameplay doesn’t suit The Colonists but as a fairly experience management gamer I feel some more balancing needs to be done on the requirement of resources. The game may seem to be cute and relaxing but it’s certainly not casual in this aspect and your game can easily be brought to a slow pace if you’re not careful.

As this is only Alpha there are some bugs to be found, it’s inevitable at this stage of development. On The Colonists Discord channel, people have been busy reporting any problems they find and developers have been working hard to fix them and update the game on a regular basis. I expect many changes and balances to come before the game releases and can’t see anything to worry about at this stage.

In face for a game in Alpha there is a surprising amount of things to do and the game is in a very playable state. Aside from gathering resources and expanding your city, there is also exploration, combat, technology trees and everything is well explained and easy to get the hang of. If city building and management games are your thing, then keep your eyes on The Colonists because it’s looking like a promising little game so far.

ANNO Online Beta – First Impressions

ANNO Online Beta – First Impressions

ANNO is one series of games that up until recently has completely evaded me. While I have certainly heard a lot about it and played a few similar RTS games such as The Settlers and Age of Empires, it’s just one of those series that I’ve never gotten around to playing until now.

Just like with The Settlers Online, Blue Byte and Ubisoft have once again teamed up to bring us ANNO Online, a free-to-play browser-based game. If you happened to have played last years The Settlers Online then you will feel at home here as the basic principles at this early beta stage are almost entirely the same.

You start your game with a single island split into seven sections. The first section is free for you to build the beginnings of your empire while the other sections are fogged out Age of Empires style, waiting to be explored. Buildings start simple with basic housing, means of providing food and drink and to produce cloth for clothes. As you can imagine with games of this style, as you advance in level the buildings advance allowing you to build upper class housing, entertainment for residents of your city and even ships.

ANNO Online Beta First Impressions Ubisoft Blue Byte Free to Play Browser

The main problem I have with ANNO Online is that its economics and infrastructure are so finely tuned that it’s hard to get the right balance and allow for any more than 15 minutes gameplay. This is very apparent in the initial levels of gameplay, when setting a few things in motion such as providing extra sources of food or a new church, your resources are eaten up very quickly leaving you with little options for upgrades or otherwise advancing your population.

The game is also set up in much a similar way to any Facebook games you may have had the misfortune of playing. If you run out of resources or feel like you just can’t wait for them to build up again you can purchase credits which in turn buy the resources of your choice. You can also explore areas of the island early, increase your population or otherwise advance your gameplay experience beyond those 15 minutes or so you would manage without a purchase.

There are a few things to take into account before deciding whether or not to play ANNO Online. First of all as a browser-based game, no downloads are required and the game can run on just about any PC with an internet connection. So if your computer of choice is getting a little old and you find yourself passing on many games because you know they just wont run, then you will probably have no problems here. The second thing to note is that the game is only at a very early beta stage and so they are still fine tuning the balance of the economy and consumables with every day that passes. They are also adding new elements such as guilds, added just a day before this articles release.

So it’s fair to say that any problems I have mentioned might well be altered or entirely removed/fixed by the time you come around to playing this. However, one problem that will stay with the game is that ultimately they want your money for playing and it’s advertised a lot on the website and with the new features they add. At this early stage of the beta its hard to tell if the game will stay like this for long. Certainly if you’re looking for a fully performing browser-based RTS, I would say I enjoyed last years The Settlers Online more and Tribal Wars even more still.

ANNO Online Beta First Impressions Blue Byte Ubisoft Browser Free to Play

Anno Online Closed Beta Starts Today – We Have 100 Keys To Give Away

Anno Online Closed Beta Starts Today – We Have 100 Keys To Give Away

It’s competition time at The Reticule Towers and today we have 100 Anno Online closed Beta keys to give away.

Anno Online is a re-imagining of the popular city-building RTS for todays players. Just like the previously released Settlers Online (also made by Blue Byte and Ubisoft), it will be playable in your browser with no downloads. Players will be able to build on multiple islands, unlockable during play and complete various tasks and objectives to further advance their cities.

To be in with your chance at winning a key all you have to do is email us with the answer to this question: What is the name of the last full Anno game to be released? Send your answers to the first 100 correct answers will receive a closed beta key for Anno Online, good luck.

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New Video Game Releases – March Schedule

New Video Game Releases – March Schedule

Welcome to The Reticule’s definitive roundup of gaming releases throughout March 2013. All release dates stated are for the EU, across all currently available platforms. Keep this page bookmarked for easy access, as we will link all previews and reviews when we post them on the site.

Still catching up with this months games? February’s release schedule can be found here.

F1 Race Stars (Review)
Wii U

City Builder

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus

Tomb Raider (First Impressions, Review)
PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Tomb Raider Screenshot March Release Date

When a sudden storm destroys her research vessel, a young and inexperienced Lara Croft finds herself stranded on a mysterious and remote island hidden off the shores of Japan. Despite several signs of various inhabitants the island is oddly deserted, and an uneasy feeling settles in as strange sounds emerge from the shadows. With only her determination, inner strength, and resourcefulness to help her, Lara must overcome the challenges of a harsh and unforgiving journey that will take her across a vast island wilderness and deep into the claustrophobic and menacing underground tombs from the island’s past.

Major League Baseball 2K13
PS3, Xbox 360

The Amazing Spider-Man Ultimate Edition
Wii U

South Park: The Stick of Truth
PC, PS3, Xbox 360

The Showdown Effect (Review)

Sim City

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
PS3, Xbox 360

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk

Total War: Shogun 2 Gold Edition

The Sims 3: University Life

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (Review)

Star Craft 2 StarCraft II Screenshot March Release Date Blizzard

You are Sarah Kerrigan, former Queen of Blades. Once the most feared entity in the galaxy, you now wait in a cell in the depths of a high-security research laboratory. Before the murderous forces of the Terran Dominion close in, you must plot your escape to the dark reaches of space… and reclaim your living empire at the Heart of the Swarm. Lead Sarah Kerrigan as she embarks on a path of furious vengeance. Evolve your brood for maximum devastation, unlock latent psionic powers, and swarm from planet to planet aboard your moon-sized zerg Leviathan.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2
PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

The Thirty Nine Steps

God of War: Ascension (Review)

Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Wii U

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Wii U, 3DS

Trials Evolution: Gold Edition

Gears of War: Judgment (Review)
Xbox 360

Gears of War Judgement Screenshot March Release Date

Set years prior to the events of the previous Gears of War trilogy, Judgment centers on Kilo Squad, a troop of soldiers led by Damon Baird and Augustus “The Cole Train” Cole. They are joined by newcomers to the Gears series Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk, as they attempt to save the besieged city of Halvo Bay from a terrifying new enemy. Gears of War: Judgment depicts the planet Sera on the brink of annihilation by an unstoppable new Locust menace, giving you a new vantage point into one of the richest and most acclaimed sagas in gaming.

Resident Evil 6

BioShock Infinite (Review, Group Thoughts)
PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Bioshock Infinite Screenshot March Release Date

The city of Columbia was built by the US Government in the late 1800s to serve as a floating world’s fair. The city was sent to travel from continent to continent and show the rest of the world the success of the American experiment. Unknown to most, Columbia was also a “death star,” secretly packed with weaponry. Political strife caused Columbia to secede from America and the city disappeared. No one knows how to get to Columbia.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (Review)
PS3, Xbox 360

Lego City Undercover
Wii U

Midnight Mysteries: Devil on the Mississippi

Puzzler Brain Games

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct
PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel
PS3, Xbox 360

A Challenger Appears to SimCity

A Challenger Appears to SimCity

With SimCity causing some concerns about horrendous DRM, some people might be pleased to learn that there is an alternative city building title coming out this February. Imaginatively called City Builder you will follow construction orders from the city Mayor by hiring and firing building crews to create the structures that will bring the city to life. You will find a video after the break if it sounds like your cup of tea.

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Anno 1404 – The Verdict

Anno 1404 – The Verdict

City building games have a long history on the PC, and I personally have a long history of playing them, I remember fondly games such as Caesar III, Zeus and Tropico. I played these games during a time before I became enamoured with the first-person shooter, city building games were for a long time the bedrock of my gaming experience. Once I discovered more action orientated games I left behind the world of city building, I would occasionally pay a casual glance at games like Imperium Romanum, but it was no more than a fleeting glimpse of what once was.

Anno 1404 Village

It wasn’t until I found Anno 1404, Dawn of Discovery to you in the Americas, that I rediscovered the joys of creating my own living breathing city. Well, I may be able to create a city, but I certainly can’t create an attractive one. As ever with games like this I end up creating an absolute mish-mash of a settlement with all kinds of buildings thrown together.

This edition of Anno features a story driven campaign mode unlike its predecessor 1701 which left it out altogether relying on its expansion to fill in with a story. As such you know going in to 1404 that you will be able to follow the relatively short campaign if you so wish, or just go ahead and start one of six pre-designed scenarios or create your own continuous game.

The campaign is enjoyable enough, your mentor Lord Northburgh guides you through the early levels and is at hand to help you along when needed; he is even present in the scenarios as a constant ally. I do have a few annoyances with the campaign, namely that when you progress from mission to mission, on the same island, you buildings all get reset to an AI pattern. Useful if you created a mess of things in the first place, but it does take away from the sense that this is really your city.

Anno 1404 Marketplace

As you would expect there are a few different difficulty levels in the campaign, with each level your levels of starting goods and gold differ and you will find yourself posed with more goals to complete on the higher levels. You are also able to get more goals to complete by exploring the world you inhabit in each level, if you explore the map and find more AI characters you will often find that you can take missions from them. At the end of each campaign level you receive a score based on the number of objectives completed.

This all ties in with the ‘Gateway to the World’ side of the game, this lets you create an online profile through which you can share your screenshots, stats and various achievements and medals that you accrue through the various game modes. There are quite a number, 206 achievements and 20 medals, not to mention the 53 items of bonus content you can unlock.

If you avoid conflict in the game then your main goal will be to create a massive population spread across the variety of islands you will come across. Different islands have different fertilities, so if your citizens want to drink beer you may have to find an island that will let you grow wheat which is required to start the process of making beer. In this way you will find that you create a vast trading network with boats carrying goods from your production islands to the island which holds the majority of your population.

Anno 1404 Ships

Trading extends beyond transferring goods between your separate islands; you can trade with the other characters such as Northburgh and characters from the Orient who occupy islands in the south of any map. If you want your citizens to advance to their top levels you will have to build on these Oriental islands which are primarily desert bound, but which have vastly different fertilities to your home lands. You will only learn how to build Oriental structures after becoming friends with the Grand Vizier.

Once you have unlocked all the buildings in the game across islands in the Occident and Orient you will find yourself positively drowning in things to build. This is where an eye for town planning comes in, as you can see from my screen shots most of my settlements are a mess, though I have seen numerous players build some lovely settlements.

At its heart Anno 1404 is a lovely game, I do have some niggles with it, when you plant farms you often have to press another button to get the fields to plant. There were some other things, but they weren’t big enough to mention. The game looks very nice and has a very deep layer of resource management and town planning, there is a lot to do if you want to complete it all, you’ll have to play for at least 500 hours if you want to get all of the medals.

This is a headshot, but with a provisio, if you don’t normally play city building games then check out the demo first. If you do like them, then buy this game, it really is a bit of gem.

A brilliant city builder, well worth picking up.
A brilliant city builder, well worth picking up.