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1701 A.D.

Moreover, each island was limited in production to the amount and type of raw materials present - making a multi-island chain of colonies with an interrelated trading network necessary for luxury goods.

We learned how to build colonies thanks to a patient and thorough tutorial, and then put our skills to work in short scenarios that tested us in increasingly difficult missions for the Queen. Later on, we could set sail in a continuous sandbox mode. The computer would send random colonists and pirates against us to compete for land and resources, but we could trade with them if we were on diplomatic terms, and spy on them if we weren't.

We could also raise an army and wipe them out the hard way, but we still needed to keep a lid on our resources and production. Fielding a fleet of ships required not only timber for hulls and masts, but cloth, steel and iron for sails, weapons and cannons.

Watching our towering warships sink rival armadas with fiery broadsides was 10 kinds of cool. However, seeing your colony expand from a few poor settlers living in shacks to a bustling society with a complex economy is actually the most satisfying part of the game.

1701 is clearly a different brand of real-time strategy than we're used to: shamelessly elaborate, filled with unexpected delights and visual splendor. The franchise looks like it will finally make a lasting settlement in the New World.

Look eastward for 1701 A.D. to sail into view this November.

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