The year is 2205, and humans have exhausted pretty much every fossil fuel planet earth has (or had) to offer. You, random corporation owner, enter the business world with one overall goal in mind: join the Lunar Licencing Program, jet off to the moon, find that which our blue planet no longer has, and send it home to solve the imminent energy crisis.
That’s the premise for the new Anno in a nutshell really. Thing is, getting to the moon isn’t as simple as shooting a rocket at it. No, the proper infrastructure has to be set up first…
A fine balancing act
Having never played any Anno game in my life, I had no idea what to expect beyond the fact that it’s a city-builder at its core. I fully expected to be overwhelmed by everything it had to offer. Thankfully, I never was, and after having chosen my starting area out of the three on offer, I learnt very quickly that there’s a lot more to the game than making sure my buildings are placed neatly and effectively. You see, Anno is all about balance – the balancing of numbers and an economy.
Building a residence will attract workers to my land, as well as generate a basic income into my coffers. However, those workers have requirements of their own – organic food and water. Building facilities to supply that demand is all good and well, except that they both require resources to function, a certain number of workers to run them, as well as power to operate optimally. Building a source of power (in this particular scenario, a windpark) also requires a certain amount of manpower and steady credit supply to keep operating.
As society grows, the people populating it slowly begin to evolve (not literally) into more complex beings. Workers upgrade into operators, who in turn, require more than just basic human needs. Oh, they dont just want rice and H20 anymore, believe you me. They want the more complex stuff – vitamin drinks, rejuvenators, and even neuro implants – a product which can only be acquired from the Arctic area a little later.
Supplying vitamin drinks for example, isn’t simply a matter of building a vitamin condenser facility. First off, a fruit plantation must be built. The fruit generated from that then gets sent off to the condenser to produce the required vitamin drink for the population.
Getting both lines of supply up means that a larger workforce is needed, meaning that more residences need to be built. This kicks things back to square one – having to supply more organic food and water for the new citizens, as well additional power to keep everything running smoothly.
Sounds complex, right? I thought so too, right up until I realised that there is a handy toolbar that shows exactly how much of what is being generated, or how heavy the demand of X product is. Balancing all these figures into the green seemed complicated and tedious at first, yet I found myself strangely addicted to Anno once I had it all figured out, which truth be told, took little effort. I always had a campaign advisor nudging me in the right direction on the odd occasion where I lost track of what needed to be done.
Tipping the scales further
Things get a tad more complex once additional regions are unlocked. After spending a fair amount of time getting my corporation settled in the Temperate area, I was told to head far north, to somewhere a lot colder. Though the balancing of material production remains pretty much the same in the Arctic as to that of the much warmer regions elsewhere on earth (there are completely different, unique resources however), the establishing of a city is a lot more complicated this time around.
Residences can no longer be placed willy-nilly – they have to be placed close to a source of heat, which is provided by any building that generates some sort of resource. With space a lot more limited, deciding what to build, and where, becomes quite important.
Establishing an economy in the Arctic is a challenge in itself, but it’s all tied into the overall global system. That’s right, whatever currency you are generating back in the Temperate region (and in the Arctic for that matter) is all pumped straight into the same single account.
What this meant is that when I struggled to push my finances into the green up north, all I had to do was compensate for it by improving and adjusting the established systems I had already built in the Temperate region. The nice thing about managing this all is that it’s possible to jump from region to region in a matter of seconds thanks to the strategy map.
Global (and moon) domination
Trust me, later on in Anno, you will be using the strategy map to bounce around from area to area quite frequently to make fine adjustments and improvements, especially once the moon can be reached. That was the whole purpose of the game, remember – to find a solution to the looming energy crisis back on earth by finding some resources up on that floating orb?
No? Don’t worry, I had all but forgotten about that premise too when I reached the Lunar region. The story in Anno isn’t exactly the strongest. Thankfully, I was too addicted to balancing everything out to really worry about it.
Like the Arctic, the Lunar region too has its own unique challenges to take into account when building. It’s a little more lenient than the glacial land of horrors thankfully. Instead of having to worry about the cold, all a player needs to worry about is placing shield generators to protect camp from a constant shower of space rocks. Problem is, building on the moon proved to be an expensive business, which meant I had to ramp up my credit flow back on earth.
Once managed and sorted though, I could set up a proper base and acquire much needed minerals from the moon’s surface. Once done, it became apparent just how important setting up trade routes between each area is. To develop certain products in some regions required resources from others. Again, this lead to one large balancing act, across them all.
By this point though, it became more tedious than addictive to get everything running optimally. To reach a certain goal in the temperate area for example, I had to up the population significantly. Doing so meant I had to start from the very beginning in a sense.
Over and over again, I had to build residences, supply them with basic needs, upgrade them to operators, supply those accompanying needs, head to the arctic, up the production of a certain product, and ship them off to temperate… you get the picture. A lot needed to be done to fulfil the objective.
Stop building for just a second
Even more tedious than the end-game economy balancing is the RTS element thrown into Anno. Some parts of the game will require a player to take control of Navy ships, with the primary goal of destroying enemies or getting to a certain objective. Thankfully, this is entirely optional, as are the game’s many side quests, which are just as tedious, but provide some important rare resources for those willing to grind through them.
When I first got started, I did what I could to obtain these rare minerals and such. As my time with the game drew on however, I found I didn’t care enough to even bother. After picking up and dropping off some cargo for example for what felt like the billionth time, I was kind of over it.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had with Anno 2205, though it may not appeal to everybody. I am not a fan of this genre myself, but I, to my own surprise, enjoyed my time with the whole main campaign, which took me around 12 hours to complete. It was only after I’d done side objectives far too often, and when I needed to really grind up to reach the very end of the campaign, did I feel any sembance of fatigue settle in.
Still, fans of the genre, and the franchise in particular shouldn’t be disappointed. Once the main campaign is complete, there are new regions to conquer, all with their own challenges and such. If that’s not enough, there are different game difficulties to try out – perfect for those Anno veterans who really want a good challenge.
Last Updated: November 2, 2015