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The year is 2070, and although global warming has not destroyed the Earth, it has shaken things up a bit. Some resources have dried up, and others have become available through new technologies. You are a city builder, with access to ships and a number of resource-rich islands. The idea in Anno is to build cities and trade resources between your islands, and negotiate (or battle it out) with the other inhabitants.

Simply, Anno 2070 is a great city building game.

If that’s what you’re interested in, this may be a great game for you with so few good city builders on the market at the moment. As an added bonus, there are a few optional quests that you can undertake for various rewards. This keeps you busy as your city grows. Not that you won’t already be busy managing the ever-increasing needs of your citizens. Naturally, more inhabitants require more resources, and as your inhabitants advance, they provide access to and demand new resources. Which is why trading is so important. You’ll never find a single island that has everything you need, so you’ll be forced to trade with your other islands, or with the other players or NPCs to make money and get what you need. This is by no means a bad thing, and adds a nice level of strategy to the gameplay.

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If you’ve played previous Anno games, the basic principle has not changed. But there are a number of new features to keep things interesting. There are now two playable factions, the Ecos and the Tycoons. Naturally, their philosophies, and hence their needs, differ greatly. For instance, the Ecos start the game with wind power, while the Tycoons still use coal power. Each faction, while having the same levels of development for citizens, has access to different resources and different buildings. Even the style of the houses differs, with Eco houses sporting many more trees than the Tycoons.

This links to the other new feature, Ecobalance. The Ecos are of course more conscious of this, so their buildings have much less impact on the environment. A negative ecobalance can lead to acid soil and therefore reduced soil fertility and productivity of your farms, hurting your ability to feed the masses. Similarly, your citizens will be upset by all the pollution around them. This brings in an interesting aspect of balance to the game, as you need to spend cash and resources to improve the ecobalance or suffer the consequences.

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Underwater exploration is another nifty new feature. You can buy a submarine and head down in the depths of the ocean looking for resource-rich underwater plateaus.

The game looks amazing. It runs surprisingly well on low end systems as well, but on higher graphics settings it really shines. The underwater environments teem with life and the pollution (or lack of it) is readily apparent as your fly over the various islands. Add to this some great background music and solid voice acting, Anno 2070 is an enjoyable experience to look at and hear. Not to mention its impressive stability. I have clocked many, many (MANY) hours in this game and never had it crash. It really is a dream to run.

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There’s a decent campaign that you play out over a series of missions. This also serves as a kind of tutorial as it introduces various aspects of the game in stages, so as to not overwhelm the new player. If the campaign doesn’t interest you, there are a number of single missions with a specific objective you need to complete, in amongst all the mini quests you can pick up if you want. There’s plenty of options, depending if you prefer city building, trade, diplomacy, or even war. Finally, there’s arguably the best mode of play, continuous play. Here, you set the parameters of the game, including the victory conditions, and then you can muck around until you meet them or get bored, or even continue the game after you win. It’s all up to you.

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My major gripe with this game is related to the online aspect. While the game box clearly states that you can play offline if you register your game online first, the offline mode is pretty lame. Yes, you can still play the game, but a lot of the features are online only. This includes your profile with all your achievements, your career progress, and the ability to vote for congress or the senate and take on daily missions. These are all great features, and fortunately you do get your achievements when you go back online, but it’s irritating that you can’t even see your achievements while offline. In fact, even if you select ‘offline mode’, the game still tries to log you in! Needless to say, if you are online, you do have access to online multiplayer among friends or strangers, which is rather nice and lets you see how others build their cities.

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Scoring:

Gameplay: 8/10

A really enjoyable experience with plenty of options. If you don’t like combat, you don’t have to take part. If you don’t like people, you can remove the other players from the game. If you like city building and trade, there’s plenty for you to do here.

Design and Presentation: 8/10

The game looks great and sounds pretty good too. The menus are intuitive and well designed. A little bit of lag in some of the in-game cutscenes was the only glitch here.

Value: 8/10

If you’re not online 24/7, you may be seriously frustrated by this game with its constant attempts to get online and log you in, not to mention the lack of access to achievements and other nifty features. However, online or not, if you like city building, you’ll get a lot of hours out of this title.

Overall: 8/10

A solid offering from Ubisoft, despite their online-oriented attitude. You can literally spend days (my playtime for one map was in fact 24 hours) playing continuous games and building empires in whatever way you prefer.

Last Updated: January 16, 2012

Anno 2070
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