Anno 2070 takes Ubisoft’s franchise to the future. We check out if the time skip makes for a richer experience in our PC review.
Published on Dec 6, 2011
Well this is different. Anno 2070 isn’t a huge departure from the previous Anno games, but the precedence has been an historic city management and real-time strategy, so the near-future Anno 2070 has allowed for a small degree of science fiction.
Out go the spears, straw huts and ploughed fields, in come hydro-electric plants, floating Arks and steel ships – lots of them, too. The premise is that the polar ice caps have melted, raising sea level so high that only the highest peaks and plateaus remain above water and making ships the common mode of transport.
In this post-apocalyptic waterworld, two main political factions have arisen: The Eden Initiative, who are slow to expand but work in harmony with the environment, and The Global Trust, who would probably argue that the world is past saving and build fast with little regard for its surroundings but are susceptible to pollution and depleted resources.
There's also the S.A.A.T., a mysterious research organisation that works mostly behinds the scenes to create new technologies.
For a player returning to the series from the last game, Anno 1404, we'd imagine that it's initially a more confusing experience than new players. The new interface has been given an appropriate science fiction theme, with steel blue pull-down menus and tiny fonts.
It's not easy to navigate and the size of the text makes warming back into the familiar mechanics quite a chore, especially when the tutorial system hinges on finding the next step in the mission chain.
But Anno 2070 is still the same game at its core and it's a strategy concept familiar enough for new players to get to grips with fairly easily.
Whether it's 1404, 1701 or 2070, your workers won't hang around if they're not fed or conditions aren't right.
Having launched a boat from our faction's flotilla, the Ark, we're off to find an unoccupied island to inhabit, preferably one with resources and space in abundance. We build a warehouse and then, the cornerstone of any settlement, houses for our workers to live in.
From there, we usually adhere to a chain of building and manufacturing priorities, power plants for energy, fisheries for the most common source of food, mines for raw building materials before we start investing in luxuries, like distilleries, casinos and other means of keeping the people happy.
Because if they're bored, hungry, polluted or any one of the dozens of negative affects overwhelms your people, they'll leave the island a ghost town.
Natural disasters like rising sea levels are something we have no control over, but if we've prepared we'll be able to cope with the aftermath without losing our entire settlement to the sea.
In the campaign mode the AI more or less bombards us with missions that we need to prioritise over whatever task we're doing at the time. There's a few too many fetch-and-return missions for our liking, but these usually come low down on the list compared to settling islands or attacking the threat posed by a rogue faction.
Like we stated in our recent review of Might & Magic: Heroes VI, Anno 2070 is tied to Ubisoft's Uplay content management system, with DRM requiring a log-on and limiting the number of installs available to us.
But there is an upside to this system: Ubisoft encourages Anno community interaction via a voting system that allows us to sway daily bonuses for our faction if the vote falls in our favour.
There are also occasional mission drops, single scenarios that are updated via Uplay, which can be accessed separately via the globe on the main menu.
Anno 2070 is a well-rounded single and multiplayer, online and offline package, with enough dynamic content to keep an online player occupied for a long time after the lifespan of one of the old Anno games would have expired.
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Anno 2070 might not look much like the Anno games we remember, but under the hood there's still that familiar and absorbing city management and strategy game we love.