Do you remember the first time you played Sim City or Civilization? The joys of constructing buildings, improving your city (or civilization) and helping it prosper are sometimes hard to remember. Instead, we recall the frustrating gameplay, convoluted menus and poorly designed battle systems that have plagued the second-rate imitations that have flooded the market in recent years. Luckily, 1701 A.D. manages to breathe life back into this crowded-but-listless genre. You won't see any far out gimmicks or genre breaking features - just good solid gameplay that's well balanced, challenging and a whole lot of fun.
The game takes place during the age of exploration, in which you must build your fledgling colony into a thriving medieval metropolis by providing your people with the goods they need through trade and or brute force. Each map is littered with islands, and you'll start off with pioneers who have basic needs on one of them.
After you successfully create the infrastructure to produce the basic goods your pioneers want such as food, cloth, and religion, they will upgrade to settlers who have additional needs such as education, tobacco, and alcohol. Eventually, your settlers will upgrade to civilians, merchants, and finally aristocrats - who have the most demanding needs in the game.
A famous poet once said that "no man is an island" and the same holds true for your colony. Each island contains the basic natural resources you'll need to keep your pioneers happy. However, they only have two to three resources that are necessary to produce goods that will allow you to advance past the settler level. This means that spreading out and interacting with other players through trade or violence is not only necessary, but inevitable.
This is where 1701 A.D. truly shines by providing balanced gameplay. Do you attack another player to take over an island that is rich in gems or marble? Do you establish a trade agreement and pay a higher price for rum so you can further develop your tobacco making infrastructure? Or do you race around the map and establish yourself on the juiciest islands with whales for lamp oil and perfume, or honey and cocoa for making desserts?