1701 A.D.

We always feel a little left out when we think about all the fun we missed back in the days when Columbus and Magellan explored the New World (well, minus the dysentery and scurvy). But thanks to unhealthy doses of the History Channel and the beautiful new colony-building 1701 A.D., we're content to remain seated on our asses for good.

1701 A.D. is the third in the so-called "Anno" series of city-building and exploration-based strategy games. This series is hugely popular in Europe, and one look at the game explains why. Every bit of 1701's world is saturated with lush forests, vibrant 3D cityscapes and countless sights and sounds of the New World. The stunning water alone is enough to make the most jaded gamer swallow their gum - the reflective, transparent and windswept emerald sea teems with motion and life. We'd stop in amazement as murky shadows appeared next to our ships and then exploded out of the water, revealing themselvesas giant whales and dolphins taking flight.

Discovering an island meant that we could build a warehouse and a town center for colonists. But the standard three or four resources that we usually manage in most other city-builders gave way to an avalanche of both raw materials and finished goods. For example, we needed to build sheep farms in order to make woolen cloth, as well as full-blown whaling operations to produce lamp oil and perfume. Multi-taskers rejoice!