Review: The Settlers, great retro land-conquering game
The Settlers is based on the “play god” genre of games like Civilization. The Settlers begins with a charming intro and then the password screen. At the first menu screen, players may choose among 30 missions, 5 tutorials, a demo mode, and normal “design-your-world” gameplay. In “normal” gameplay, action takes place on one of 270 billion worlds chosen by the player with a 16-number combination. There are 10 computer-controlled competitors to choose from. Players can choose from various sized worlds depending on amount of computer memory. After making these choices, a mouse click on start begins the game. The beginning screen displays a small section of the world. There are mountains, deserts, lakes, hills, and prairie land. Moving around the world is accomplished by moving the mouse while holding down the right mouse button. The Settlers is entirely mouse-driven. Your first task is to find a suitable plot of land to set up your main castle. Opposing computer players do the same; and from then on, it is a race to conquer all of the land. The game is intensely involving. Roads are built leading to proposed buildings the player wishes to be erected. Soon, small settlers come pouring out of the castle to carry out your directions. These are no normal settlers; these small fellows walk around, scratch their heads, carry supplies, and lead simply fascinating lives! So absorbing are the actions of these settlers that I often find myself watching them carry gold or bread from one building to the next, or watching a woodcutter chop down a tree. There can be anywhere from 500 to 64000 settlers depending on the size of the world. The player is in full control of everything that is built. Supplies may be limited, so the settlers will need to be instructed how to make their own supplies. There is a different settler for every job; for example, there are carriers, ferrymen, construction workers, bakers, farmers, miners, forester, and butchers, to name just a few. Guard-rooms are built to expand the boundaries of the players land, as well as serving as the source of an attack on neighboring rivals. One may choose between 23 buildings to erect and 26 resources/tools to produce. Winning is based on good strategic placement of buildings and road networks.
As in any “land-conquering” game, there are soldiers. They may have 5 different ranks, and the player can control where the best fighters go. There are options enough to satisfy even the most neurotic game player. There is a global map that the player can look at, indicating the presence of roads, the landscape, and the areas occupied by each player. Here the player will notice that the game world is overlapping – that is, a player can proceed in any one direction and he/she will come back to his original location. Other options in the game include many data graphs
indicating the success rate of the player versus his opponents in terms of land ownership, fighting success, and total housing assets. Players can choose which resources have precedence and which buildings should be built first. Some of the added options include switching from the in-game music to full sound effects, special mouseclick options, and even volume control from the screen. Two players can play The Settlers, either in competition against each other (in combination with other computer players if desired) or as a team working for the same goal. In two-player mode, the main game screen will split in half, giving each player control of his/her half of the screen. Necessary icons are all still there, just squeezed together more to fit in the smaller width. If you like Civilization, or have any hidden urges to dominate and control, you’ll love The Settlers for its influence power. On the hardware available at the time, the game could control a maximum of 64,000 individuals, all behaving autonomously.