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Dawn of Discovery review

Decent
AT A GLANCE
  • A lot of pretty detail
  • A certain charm to the world
  • Plenty of depth
  • Unintuitive interface
  • Some pointless busy work
  • Doesn't do anything innovative

Imagine a straight-faced The Settlers and you’re getting there. The core play is that of nurturing a medieval settlement into a city, adding and upgrading buildings with various functions and attempting to keep your resources balanced and your inhabitants happy. The wider campaign sees you carry out many smaller missions as you make contact with the exotic East, while scenarios offer general victory conditions and a less linear feel.

A thin manual provides scant guidance as to how Anno’s (or Dawn of Discovery's in the US) mechanics work, so it’s easy to make mistakes but not so easy to figure out where you’ve gone wrong. For example, we’ve been ordered to supply linen to a Count preparing for a crusade so, first, we need to build a hemp plantation, then plant hemp fields – the latter, like too much in the game, is a pointless piece of busy work as it just involves clicking a button to automatically place the fields. Next, we need a weaver’s hut to make linen from the hemp. So, we place a hut and build a road to connect it to the plantation and... nothing happens.

After fiddling with various buttons for a good ten minutes, we can find no good reason for this. So, we demolish the hut and build a new one on an existing road and this time get a congratulatory message from our advisor telling us how busy our weaver’s going to be. We still don’t know why. Veteran players may be smirking at what a dullard we are; we think it reveals much about the complacent and tired design, with trial and error scoring over logic and intuition far too many times.

There is a certain charm to the dinky people going about their business, and a lot of pretty detail to revel in, but this familiar collection of well-worn elements only preaches to the converted, offering little to attract new believers. The joys that might have been gleaned from the epic sweep of city-building are overwhelmed by a constant stream of fussy little tasks to juggle, tasks that also lift you right out of whatever grand goal you’re pursuing.

Jun 25, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jun 23 2009 - Wii, DS, PC (US)
May 22 2009 - Wii, DS
Jun 26 2009 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii, DS, PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Related Designs
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Drug Reference, Mild Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Mild Blood
PEGI Rating:
12+

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9 comments

  • Hexar - July 25, 2009 8:17 p.m.

    Fairly weak review, you went on mostly about how you got confused in the game and couldn't figure out how the economy works in the game. The reason connecting the hemp plantation and the weaver's hut directly doesn't work is because it goes through the intermediary of the warehouse. A worker leaves the warehouse and travels to the plantation to get the hemp which he then returns to the warehouse. A worker from the weaver's hut then goes to the marketplace to requisition the goods to begin making the clothing. Pretty much like in real life. I don't show up at the farm and ask for my milk. It's a shame that you got confused (which as another commenter had mentioned wouldn't have happened had you listened to the in game advisor) but taking up most of what is loosely termed a review here is a disservice to what game there is. Trade and exploration are some of the important elements in the game, and yet you don't even mention the former and barely touch on the latter. Love it or hate it, it doesn't matter to me, but for heaven's sake man at least make your opinion known for reasons other than I couldn't figure it out. I would certainly hope this wasn't the first you were confused in a game and I can't help but wonder did you put down those games as well?
  • phanatic62 - July 12, 2009 4:33 a.m.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I would like to point out that Metacritic shows no other review so far (16 others) got below an 80 (http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/dawnofdiscovery). I'm pleased to see that the comments for this same review posted on computerandvideogames.com are equally scathing. Almost every other industry in the world has some form of Quality Control or Quality Assurance. GamesRadar, I realize you just post whatever PC Gamer UK sends your way, but maybe you need to start reading some of the shit they are submitting in order to keep this trash off your website.
  • phanatic62 - July 12, 2009 3:59 a.m.

    Worst. Review. Ever. Seriously Chris Buxton, quit your job. I really hope that you're a pre-frosh intern or something, because if PC Gamer UK is actually PAYING you to write this trash they are getting ripped off. If I performed work at my job at this quality I would never have lasted a week. I haven't played this game, but I played 1602 AD (Anno 1602 in Europe) extensively, and I learned all of the things you were complaining about in the TUTORIAL (check it out, sometimes they help!). Seriously, that was the first game in this series, and you're missing fundamental gameplay points in the FOURTH. Now I know full well that you shouldn't need to have played an earlier version of a game in order to know how the play the sequals, but seriously you treat this as if it's some trash title by a crap Eastern European developer. In reality it's a highly popular series with a huge following around the world. Do your god damn homework and learn how to write a game review. To put it in terms that any gamer can understand, this review makes you look like a total NOOB.
  • motogp - July 1, 2009 7:04 a.m.

    I agree with aiguo. Its time Gamesradar put some effort into their review side. This can barely be categorized as a review. Wheres the graphics, sound, controls, gameplay??
  • Yazleb - June 26, 2009 1:45 p.m.

    Also I would like to add, that the game is quite simple to learn, you might need to read a few things in the in-game guide(takes 3 minutes at that). I can sympathize with the reviewer at the games initial complexity, and I too am a bit sheepish when it comes to exceedingly complex building games, but in all honesty folks, Anno 1701(the prequel) is about the simplest most in depth city building game I've ever played. I say that knowing that I've had my attention span affected in this day and age of fast action games. Sometimes slow thrills relax you after a hard days study/work/workout. 1 Love
  • Yazleb - June 26, 2009 1:38 p.m.

    A bit thin for a review of a complicated game. I'd say you owe this long running series more words, but oh well. He feels its a 6, then its a 6 to him. Personally I love Anno 1701, and I plan on getting 1404 no matter what the reviews are. If anyone wants a better take on it, use google translate on some german reviews, they provide an in depth educated look at this game. I would give 1701 a 9.0, and I bet I'd give this one at least an 8.0, but then again city building is my thing! use google translate, the review is great http://www.pcgames.de/aid,688173/Anno-1404-Test-Die-perfekte-Aufbau-Strategie-Symbiose/PC/Test/
  • RanGo - July 5, 2009 12:27 p.m.

    this is an absurdly bad review. the tutorial clearly explains everything you seem to have been confused with, and the minor annoyances that bothered you, such as manually planting hemp fields, are actually quite important for setting up efficient chains. and since your appraisal clocks in at an embarrassing 360 words, it seems the majority of what to had to say was demonstrably false, while the rest just bad opinion.
  • bugmenot - July 5, 2009 12:21 a.m.

    lol the retards that work at this POS website no one reads actually gave the wii version a higher score. gj you stupid niggers.
  • aiguo - June 26, 2009 2:52 p.m.

    Very bad review!

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