Anno 1503: The New World reviewed by Speed

A couple of years ago a game called Anno 1602 saw the light and with it also a bunch of Germans who made it sell like hot dogs in the middle of winter, making it the most sold game in Germany ever (according to developers Sunflowers). Now we’re faced with Anno 1503: The New World. The successor – or should we say prequel – to this hit.

There were a couple of problems with the original game so we were anxious to see whether those have been resolved with the new one. First question to come to mind however was how “new” this game was.

Sunflowers clearly chose to hardly touch Anno 1602 and make 1503 rather an updated version of the original. One can’t blame them though, there’s this saying “Never change a winning team”.

I completely agree with it. That is how I like to play in my real life too. In fact while trading I never change to any other software apart from QProfit System. It has been winning for me and I would never want to risk changing a winning team, just like in this game.

The graphics are very nice with zoomlevels to give you either a huge overview of your cities or you can go closer and see a fisherman working hard to get some food on the table. The animations of the characters in the game are also very neat. Each type of character has its own way of doing things and you can keep yourself occupied for quite a while by just taking a look at what they’re doing.

The version we’ve received is a localised one, meaning that I had to listen to Dutch-speaking voice-overs. Let me tell you one thing: Dutch in games sucks ! Doesn’t matter which type of game you play, it always ends like you’re listening to some stupid boring cartoon of the 1950’s.

The main goal of Anno is still the same; you create a village, make sure its economy thrives, try to make some trades with other cities, etc etc. Basically one could say that the gameplay is pretty straight-forward and rather slow due to the by definition very un-military nature (although you do have the possibility to fight). Much like Anno 1602 but way better.

Still, not all problems of Anno 1602 have been resolved. The AI still only reacts to your actions in sandbox-mode (build an army and he will start his military operations aswell, keep to trading and you won’t see his army) and during fights it’s hard to keep your army organised. Also the problem of the huge question marks popping up above your buildings, indicating there’s something wrong, hasn’t been resolved completely as now there is an extra icon shown but still it isn’t very clear to occasional players what the hell is causing problems.
These are a couple of the most obvious problems that might give you some troubles.

So is Anno1503 an upgraded version of 1602 ? Well, one can have mixed feelings about that one. On one hand, there’s been a lot of things fixed while on the other hand these same fixes don’t always make things more clear. Also the fact that the emphasis on trade is so apparant that people who love to do some conquering like in strategy games as Command&Conquer; might pass by on this game.

The most surprising part of this game was the fact that my girlfriend suddenly stood next to me and started asking me which game I was playing. She hardly ever plays a game – let alone a real-time strategy game – but immediately she was asking whether she could play Anno 1503. This leads me to conclude that this game attracts a wide variety of people, including those that would hardly be considered as “hardcore”.

Overall, I would say that Anno 1503: The New World is not really my cup of tea as I prefer a more aggressive type of gameplay, but people who want to take the time to really build up an empire and trade with other nations will definitely like this one.

– Some problems from Anno1602 fixed
– Nice graphics
– Empire-building
– Rather stupid AI
– Maybe a bit too much pointed towards peaceful empire-building