When I was a kid and couldn’t afford the fancy toys for myself like cars, beer and trust funds, I had to rely on my parents for the finer things in life. One of those finer things came in a little square plastic CD case entitled SimCity 3000.
When I booted up SimCity for the first time it felt like something special. I wasn’t trying to help a little alien guy escape from a bunch of murderous business directors. I wasn’t trying to fend off a thousand said alien guys from pixellated humiliation. I was raising an empire. I was in control. I was the boss.
Of course, being 9 at the time, I largely had no idea what I was doing and I managed to turn a city built in the year 3000 into the computerized equivalent of modern Zimbabwe.
It seems that not much has changed.
Building The Future, One Apartment at a Time
Anno 2205 is a management-city builder type game set in the distant future where corporations are tasked to build expansive business sectors on islands, Antarctica and … the moon. No kidding. Each of these little ventures will support each other, so players are encouraged to do well and revisit each venture to ensure their future success.
Each location and venture has a specific set of rules and conditions – for example, on Antarctica you have to abide by the rules of the custodians there, who are responsible for keeping the climate under control. On the island you’ll be mining for certain resources as well as building farms to feed your growing workforce – and grow it does!
I found myself constantly having to build more apartments so I could provide a workforce to man the power plants which were largely powering the… apartments. Another note is that your workers in Antarctica and on the moon need food and supplies that you can only grow on the island, so each location is intrinsically tied to the other’s success. This gives Anno 2205 a managerial feel where you’re constantly balancing your resources to fund your different ventures and ambitions.
Oddly enough, one ambition it doesn’t fund are your ambitions of conquest.
It’s Like Battleships, But Slower
That’s right, Anno 2205 has a real-time action-strategy part to it – which is completely optional, unlike the previous entries into the series. These ‘action’ sequences have you commanding a small fleet of battleships with abilities to help you wipe out your enemies and achieve the objective. I say ‘action’ because it really felt like a dragged out version of singleplayer Dota with even less inspiring voice acting. Unfortunately, because you don’t have a lot to lose on these missions, you don’t really feel threatened and this section of the game becomes boring. If you manage to sit through this click-torture you’ll be rewarded with some extra resources to put into your different ventures.
JigSaw: “I Want to Play a Game.”
Building out your ventures requires that each building should be connected by a road, and each building only supplies you with a miniscule amount of resources with which to fund your growing operation. What this meant is that I ended up feeling like I was building one huge jigsaw puzzle where I could only get an extra piece after a certain amount of seconds.
Then to top it all off, you have to upgrade these buildings to gain advanced resources, which results in a clicking competition with your resource counter. I often thought that I may be playing a reskinned version of Farmville except in this one I was slowly going bankrupt in the game rather than in real-life.
Cardboard Cut-outs In a 3D World
The story and backstory (which I can’t go into too much here) is nothing particularly interesting or entertaining and even feels a little out of place. The characters are almost one dimensional and seemed to be more like stereotypical talking heads with quests rather than characters.
This is strange considering how the huge world you build on is extremely detailed. You can see trees swaying, you can zoom in and see wildlife, and the unpolished graphics look amazing. As your corporate worker-bee town comes to life, you can see cars flying by, robots doing their thing and people enjoying the sunshine (or frostbite in Antarctica).
Your Work Away From Work.
While I was clicking-away, I was watching friends playing online with each other, talking about Metal Gear Solid V on my chat group and generally enjoying themselves while I was stuck trying to make my pixelated workers happy, fed and surviving in Antarctica; and trying to calm down digital investors, turn a profit and withstand an angry hippy-turned-bureaucrat going on about climate control.
All I wanted to do was play games and be happy after a day of work. Anno 2205 felt like work. It was like playing “Work and Math Simulator 2205.”
To make a long story short, I ended up recreating Zimbabwe on an island, in Antarctica and the moon. 9 year old me would have been so proud.
If you’re looking for a strategy game to tide you over until XCOM 2 or Starcraft Legacy of the Void this isn’t it. If you’re looking for some kind of creative outlet where you can create something unique and admirable, this isn’t for you either.
If you truly enjoy management, pseudo-economics, organisation and planning ahead economically; or are unemployed and want to feel what it’s like to get a soulless corporate job, this may just be the game you’ve been looking for.
Last Updated: October 7, 2015
October 7, 2015 at 18:30
It sounds to me like you do not even understand what it is that makes an Anno game an Anno game, or that you even prefer that genre of games. If you are going to review a game you should at least understand the difference between a tactical micro management RTS such as starcraft, and a logistics and economics macro management RTS such as the Anno series. You should stick with your tactical RTSs and FPSs instead, and leave Anno and Simcity to those who understand the simple pleasures of efficiency and logistics games.