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Although Settlers is an old game, it's probably still hanging around on enough people's machines to be worth a review... The freestyle gameplay of Settlers was a really fresh idea when the game came out, and the blurb for the game tried to show that it was a cross between the traditional resource-gathering combat games and "The Sims". The manual made much of the joy of just sitting back and watching the Settlers go about their business, which I must say never really cut it for me as a way of passing the time (TV, anyone?). It's a good idea to have such a wealth of animation to accompany what is quite a basic God-sim, and it definitely adds to the pleasure of playing. The main drawback of the game, however, is that it isn't enough to compensate for the fact that the gameplay is often too slow for comfort, and the addictiveness of the game wears off too quickly for the 30-odd levels. By the time you've completed level ten (which level alone takes upwards of 3 hours), you may not want to spend the next few weeks/months defeating the next twenty levels. Tactics are the same all the way through - there's really only one way to win, which is to amass a hoard of resources and then strike an unstoppable blow against your enemy before he does the same to you. In fact, the need to sit and watch the Settlers go about very repetitive business quickly becomes the major drawback of the game. Particularly on the higher level, the hefty amount of time required to collect the resources for launching an attack on your neighbours can get very dull. I have often left the Settlers to get on with their little lives while I get something to eat, so that they're ready for war when I get back! Although this may appeal to players who don't have a pause button, in an era of truly addictive gameplay, it's a turn-off. But, lest this give an overly negative view of the game, it remains a good idea, and one w
hich is quite cutely set out. I confess I haven't played Settlers 3, so I don't know whether the graphics have at long last been updated (Settlers 2 missed out here), but as an introduction to God-sims, this was ahead of its time. But there's better stuff out there now, even at the bargain-basement end of the range, so this is probably for die-hard fans only. I would have recommended it to a friend several years ago, but not today.