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Dec 07 2011

Review: Anno 2070

The year is 2070 and the Earth is battered, bruised and broken. Mankind has ultimately failed as stewards of the planet and humanity is basically screwed. This is the setting for Anno 2070 a game from Related Designs and Ubisoft Blue Byte. As a long time Civilization fan Anno first caught my eye in a TV commercial which featured its interesting art style and Civ-like gameplay. However I knew very little about the other games in the series and considering all the great games being released this fall/winter it quickly slipped my mind….that is until I saw it on Steam. Anno has been the first game of the many game purchases I’ve made this season that was able to grab me away from Skyrim and here is why.

On a boat?

Anno 2070 unlike most games in its genre takes place in the future where most games visit humanities past. And unlike most games set in the future it takes place on Earth instead of some obscure world. This is a large part of the games appeal. Showing us a version of Terra Firma which has been ravaged by climate change (Regardless of one’s stance on the issue) creates a well established link between the player and the game universe. Also the games main factions and their different takes on the issue threatening civilization cover both extremes of the climate change issue in very realistic ways. On the one hand you have the Eden Initiative who focuses on more environmentally conscious policies. On the other hand corporations (Much like Cockroaches) are alive and well in 2070. The Global Trust focuses on the exploitation of Earth’s remaining resources for profit and is far less concerned with sustainability. There is also a third faction the S.A.A.T which can be earned during gameplay and stands to augment the other two factions with technology that falls in between the two extremes.

Anno 2070 has a variety of gameplay modes and most of it is what you’d expect. Campaign, Continuous (Which is a sandbox and can be configured for whatever you’re in the mood for.) make an appearance. There are also a few less common game modes and some online functionality that I will get into more detail with in a minute.

First up are the Campaign/Continuous modes: This is pretty standard fare really. The campaign I found was a bit short and frankly played as a rather longwinded tutorial for continuous and multi-player modes. I thought it was interesting that the designers made the choice to have the city you made in the first level of the campaign carry directly through for the rest of the campaigns act. This is a cool feature, and I won’t deny it bothered me a bit in other games when I’d build a base in a level only to have it look completely different in the cut-scenes. However this is a double edged sword it is entirely likely that poor city planning will come back to bite you in the ass. So be careful where you put things. This is just as true in Continuous play games.

2070 Skyline

Now I want to talk a bit about what really struck me with Anno 2070, the online community. Anno 2070 has a bunch of cool features which help to keep the game fresh and add a bunch of post purchase value. First up we have the voting which asks players to vote on which faction they want to support in the game universes fictional Senate. Supporting one faction over the other will give the player different advantages based on which faction they support. There is also a similar system for voting on which of the three faction leaders will be chosen as World Leader. The winning faction will provide benefits to all players regardless of faction support. So if the Eden Initiative leader wins all players get his benefit regardless of who you voted for.

There is also one more online feature which I’m a big fan of which are Daily and World Events. Daily Events are exactly what they sound like. Every day the game will present players with a single new standalone mission that can be played as any of the factions and provides faction specific benefits when completed. Less frequently there will be World Events which are missions that occur on a much larger scale and supposedly will effect the story. These missions also have voiceover and animations which make them similar to campaign missions. I think Ubisoft did well with these two features as they add a lot of stuff to a game I would have considered far too short if left out. The one drawback of this system is an internet connection and Uplay accounts are required to gain these benefits. This is slightly offset with the ability to play the main game offline. (A feature which was not included in previous Anno games.)

The Eco Faction

Anno 2070 is not for the feint of heart as building an island empire to save humanity is no easy task. You are dropped on the map with nothing but your Ark and a Shipyard and it is up to you to place homes, industries, power plants, and defend them from enemies. Expanding across to other islands on the map only adds to the challenge and that’s before you consider trading with other factions and gaining access to the tech faction to augment your own faction’s forces/industries. A single Anno 2070 game will take somewhere between 3-5 hours. There is enough depth to the game that taking a faction from a few houses to a multi-island spanning empire with more then a dozen underwater cities (High-tech Atlantis FTW) is a satisfying feeling… even if you had to forgo food, sleep and matters of personal hygiene to get there.

However 2070 is not perfect. The music in the game starts off as pleasantly ambient. But with such a few gameplay tracks in a game you’re playing for hours on end these quickly got dropped for more entertaining songs from my iTunes library. Also With so much depth comes a certain degree of frustration if you make the mistake of diving into the continuous mode before completing the campaign. But in such a game with such depth this is understandable as no tutorial could cover the multitude aspects adequately. And in-game data-logs provided by your A.I assistant EVE ensure you’re not completely in the dark.

All in I think Anno 2070 is a triumph for the series. The game is beautiful, has tons of replay value and is addicting as all hell. If you’re looking for a strategy game with some light RTS elements this holiday season you could do far worse then Anno 2070.. Maybe make a playlist first.

Presentation: 7.5– The menus and user interface are confusing at first and the game never takes the time to explain them. But once you get the hang of them they add quite nicely to the atmosphere of the game.

Graphics: 9.0– Easily one of the most beautiful strategy games I’ve played. The detail when zooming in is staggering as little people, drones and hover-cars zip around the city your creating with the occasional wild animals and planes for good measure. Ubisoft did not skimp here!

Sound: 7.0-As mentioned above I found the lack of tracks a bit of a disappointment, however the voice over work is high quality and that at least makes up for the music.

Gameplay: 9.0– It should come with an illegal substance warning. Deep, utterly absorbing and will keep you crawling back for more.

Replay Value: 8.0– The Campaign is a little short and really gives you no incentive to come back to it. This is countered at least for the moment by the online modes and the fact that continuous mode can keep you hooked for the better part of your life all by itself.

Overall: 8.0

About the author

G

G has an overactive imagination and lives in a weird hybrid reality.

2 comments

  1. Fava

    I really wanna see you review Majora’s mask!!! XD I WANNA SEE ALL THE BAD THINGS YOU’D SAY!!!! LOL i can already see how long it’ll be….

    Majora’s mask review:

    …..gay

    XD

    1. G

      Read the skyward sword article…

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