The graphics have a comical look to them, which may bother people that prefer a more realistic style, but the overwhelming variety of animated details helps make up for the game's lack of realism. When you aren't busy laying down roads and houses, you can sit back and watch all the tiny little people visiting the shops, tending their fields, and clashing on the outskirts.
A campaign mode provides 15 missions that should keep you occupied for a solid 20 hours, and also give you the skills necessary to build your own settlement from scratch. Once you've learned the ins and outs, you'll dive into the continuous mode, where you set the starting size of the island, tweak the resources, and keep playing until you decide to replace your saved empire with a new one. Lastly, there's a multiplayer mode, which enables four people (each with their own system and cartridge) to link-up and scuffle over a single patch of land. Yeah, good luck finding four people locally to play a niche game like this. For that reason, we really wish they had implemented some sort of online play.
Empire building tends to be a solitary endeavor anyway, so the restrictive multiplayer options really don't hurt Anno 1701 all that much. Basically, anybody looking to build and maintain an imperialistic empire on their Nintendo DS should get this game.
Mar 17, 2008