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Settlers logo  Amiga Format Gold

There is more to the Germans than BMWs, Apfel Strudel, big sausages and wicked beer. They also make some cracking games, as Rob Mead discovers.

F Settlers ed up with the nine-to-five routine? Then why not sign up as the leader of a completely new civilisation – a people with an overwhelming desire for money, food and somewhere to park their park. Erm, pigs, that is. Settlers is the latest game from History Line and Battle Isle programmers Blue Byte. This time around, though, the German Wunderkinder have turned their backs on their warlike past and opted for something altogether more ‘wholesome’.

You control a tribe of settler whose aim is to establish a harmonious and successful economy filled with bakers, pig farmers and fishermen. Naturally, you also have to be prepared to defend your fledgling civilisation against attack and indulge in the occasional spot of warfare to prevent your opponents hogging all the best land.

Cannot stand craving
The game is based on the theory of supply and demand. The greedy knights who defend your civilisation have a constant craving for gold which you must meet. Producing the gold involves a network of 25 sets of workers who all depend on each other to get their jobs done. The farmers grows the wheat for the miller, who turns it into flour for the baker, who makes the bread which the ore miner eats to give him the energy to get the gold> The mined gold is then passed on to a merchant who smells the gold with a little help from his friends the cool miner, toolmaker and steel maker. With the potential to have up to 64,000 characters on screen simultaneously, you have quite a feat on your hands.

There is a constant demand for new roads, new buildings, fresh resources, mines and boats, so you have to be a dab hand at juggling competing demands made of you. You also soon discover that simple mistakes can prove costly – over-ambitious expansion in the early stages can mean you run out of resources later when you need them most.

To help you sort out the whole complicated mess, you are presented with a series of tables and statistics giving you all the latest information about your tribe. You can adjust the flow of goods at any time and can even opt to make your knights more or less aggressive, depending on how war-like you want to be.

It may sound as much fun as a lecture on monetary policy from Norman Lamont, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Settlers is packed to the gills with originality, humour and playability.
Blue Byte have injected each worker with his own personality, so it is easy to tell them apart when they are wandering around the screen – the carriers wave at each other and stick pigs under their arms for delivery for the butchers, boatmen row their way across the lakes and you can see bakers and toolmakers fashioning their goods in the windows of their shops.

The battle sequences have a very cartoony feel with each tiny character performing leaps and twirls to evade the other’s sword thrusts. Even when beaten, you are not treated to some bloodthirsty gut-spillage, but a cutesy waddle away from the scene of battle. The only disturbing bit is when you see your buildings going up in flame Populous-style – when an enemy encroaches on to your land.

Oozing atmosphere
Graphically, Settlers is superb. From the 3Mb intro sequence to the isometric Populous-style gameworld, the game oozes quality with smoothly animated worker sprites, rippling pools of water and rustling trees adding to the atmosphere. The sound effects are great too, and change as you move around the screen – get near to a lake and you hear the sound of waves lapping the shore, skip over to the farm and you get oinking pigs. If that is not enough, it also features 50 different missions and a two-player mode where you can battle either against each other or jointly against an Amiga-controlled opponent. You can change the size of the game world, although you will find saving larger worlds difficult if you do not own a hard drive since they need at least 1.6Mb storage space.

But one of the best things is that it only needs to load once. There is no disk-swapping and hardly any disk-accessing - Settlers is a joy to play on even the largest game world.
Rob Mead

Amiga Format, Issue 54, Christmas 1993, p.p.84-85

THE SETTLERS
PROGRAMMERS
Blue Byte
PUBLISHER
Kompart 0727 868005
PRICE
£34.99
RELEASED
December

The Settlers is hard disk installable

GRAPHICS
09 out of 10
From the cartoony intro to the superbly animated gameplay, it is gorgeous graphics galore.

SOUND
08 out of 10
Wind whistles through the trees, waves lap on the shore and pigs snort. Marvellous.

ADDICTION
09 out of 10
From the first woodcutter’s hut, you are hooked. It is cute, funny and incredibly playable.

PLAYABILITY
08 out of 10
50 missions and a storming two-player option will keep you going until next Christmas.

VERDICT
"Wow! This game has it all – great graphics, superbly sound effects and tons of playability. Settlers has to be a major contender for the game of the year award."
94%


Die Welt am Draht

Settlers logo

Eigentlich sollte diese originelle Mischung aus "Populous" und "Sim City" schon letzte Weihnachten erscheinen – aber bei Blue Byte siedeln nun mal Perfektionisten, denen nur das Beste gut genug ist!

E Settlers s wurde also nochmals ein Jahr für den Feinschliff investiert, und das hat sich auch gelohnt. Denn selbst wenn hier drei der vier Disks bereits für das pompöse Zeichentrick-Intro draufgehen, darf man die Komplexität der Geschichte keinesfalls unterschätzen – von den spielerischen Möglichkeiten her stellt das Programm "Populous II" glatt in den Schatten! Um das Fazit ausnahmsweise vorwegzunehmen: Den Leute von der "Battle Isle" ist mal wieder ein Klassiker geglückt...

W ie es sich für einen Klassiker gehört, ist das zugrundeliegende Konzept des Spiels recht simpel. Bis zu vier Siederlgruppen sind in der leicht schräg von oben gezeigten, per Zufallsgenerator erzeugten Landschaft damit beschäftigt, eine florierendes Gemeinwesen zu errichten und sich gegenseitig das Leben schwer zu machen. Maximal zwei Menschen können sich aus dem Fundus der zehn höchst unterschiedlich veranlagten (Computer-) Charaktere bedienen, vom emsigen Häuslebauer bis zum aggressiven Feldherrn ist alles vertreten. Beim Gameplay sind dann alle nur denkbaren Kombinationsmöglichkeiten erlaubt: Man kann beispielsweise zu zweit einen Siedler-trupp übernehmen und mit vereinten Kräften die Rechnerkonkurrenz das Fürchten lehren oder auch gegeneinander auf dem dann gesplittenen Screen antreten – und das alles wiederum nur für Übung, in 50 festgelegten Missionen oder mit offenem Ende.

S elbst die größte Siedlung beginnt n diesem Digital-Mittelalter immer mit einem Schloß, das an strategisch günstiger Stelle plaziert wird. Als nächstes muß zumindest ansatzweise ein Verkehrsnetz aus verschiedenen Pfaden, Wegen und Straßen her, damit sich die produzierten Waren auch zu ihrem Bestimmungsort transportieren lassen. Soweit ist es ja noch verhältnismäßig einfach, aber von nun an will jeder Schritt genau überlegt sein, weil hier wirklich alles und jedes ineinandergreift. So brauchen die Arbeiter, die man mit der Errichtung von Burgen, Wachtürmen, Wohnhäusern, Lagerhallen etc. Beauftragt, für ihren Job natürlich Baumaterialien, Werkzeuge und Nahrungsmittel. Der Schweinebraten wächst aber nicht auf den Bäumen, sonder wird von Bauern erzeugt, die ihrerseits auf die Futterlieferungen des Müllers angewiesen sind. Ganz ähnlich verhält es sich mit dem Schmied, dem man Eisen und Kohle aus den entsprechenden Berg werken zur Verfügung stellen muß, wenn er Werkzeuge herstellen soll. Alles in allem sind 20 (Handwerks-) Berufe vertreten, dazu kommen noch (fünf verschiedene) Ritter, die selbstverständlich auch erst Gold und Waffen sehen wollen, bevor sie sich für die Landesverteidigung bzw. –expansion engagieren.

D ieses Handlungsgerüst wird weiter ergänzt durch diverse Statistiken und eine Übersichtskarte; außerdem läßt sich das Geschehen auf vielfältige Weise variieren, indem man mehr oder weniger intelligente, friedfertige oder bauwütige Spielfiguren für sich selbst bzw. Die (rechnergelenkte) Gegenseite aussucht. Auch die Beschaffenheit der besiedelten Landschaft ist über ein raffiniert ausgetüftelten Zahlencode à la "Lotus 3" beeinflußbar. Für Abwechslung sorgen darüber hinaus die 50 normalen und zehn Übungsmissionen, bei denen z.B. eine bestimmte Menge von Getreide erzeugt oder eine feindliche Siedlung überfallen werden muß.

O Amiga Joker Hit bwohl in dieser ungemein komplexen "Weltensimulation" somit quasi auch gleich ein Wirtschafts- und ein Militärstrategical mit enthalten sind, bereitet die durchdachte Steuerung via Maus, Icons und eingeblendete Menüs überhaupt keine Probleme. Selbst in den größeren Welten, wo bereits die Übersichtskarte mehrere Screens umfaßt und bis zu 64.000 Personen herumwuseln, findet man sich sehr schnell zurecht; dazu gibt es ja eine hervorragende deutsche Anleitung, die Schritt für Schritt jedes Detail erklärt. Damit die Besiedelungstätigkeit nicht bloß graue Theorie bleibt, sieht man am Bildschirm immer genauestens, was wo gerade Sache ist – also wie die putzig animierten Zimmerer hämmern, klopfen und Holz heranschleppen, wie die Bauern ackern, die Ritter kämpfen und so weiter und so fort. Auch die Landschaften selbst (Berge, Wälder, Seen etc.) stecken vollre liebenswerter Kleinigkeiten; da wiegen sich Palmen im Wind, das abgeerntete Getreide liegt auf den Feldern, und die einzelnen Gebäude hat man sehr abwechslungsreich gezeichnet.

D er einzig nennenswerte Wermutstropfen ist der zwangsläufig etwas klein geratene Bildschirmausschnitt im Splitscreen-Modus, aber damit muß man halt leben. Ausgezeichnet geglückt sind wiederum die atmosphärischen Wind-, Kampf- und Arbeitsgeräusche, während (nur) die Begleitmusik bei unserm Testmuster leider noch fehlte. Dafür verraten wir Euch zum Abschluß ein ganz spezielles Feature dieses Games: Die Siedler erkennen selbständig, auf welchem Amigamodell sie gelandet sind, und nutzen dessen Hardwaremöglichkeiten jeweils optimal aus! Bei der Minimalkonfiguration (500er mit 1 MB RAM) muß man auf einige Musiken und die größeren Welten verzichten, am wohlsten fühlen sich die Kleinen natürlich auf ’ner flotten "Freundin" mit Festplatte.

M uß man noch mehr sagen? Eigentlich nicht, aber wir machen es dennoch: Glückwunsch an die Blaubeißer, Ihr habt mit diesem ungeheuer lebendigen Mikrokosmos einen der ganz großen Weihnachtsknaller des Jahres 1993 vorgelegt! (C. Borgmeier)

Amiga Joker, December 1993, p.p.20-21

DIE SIEDLER
(BLUE BYTE)
WELT-SIMULATION
91%
"GÖTTLICH"
Amiga Joker
GRAFIK
ANIMATION
SOUND-FX
HANDHABUNG
DAUERSPAß
79%
70%
74%
82%
94%
VARIABEL
PREIS DM 119,-
SPEICHERBEDARF
DISKS/ZWEITFLOPPY
HD-INSTALLATION
SPEICHERBAR
DEUTSCH
1 MB
4/JA
JA
SPIELSTÄNDE
KOMPLETT


Settlers logo

Straight from Germany, it is an economic strategy sim that looks good and is also good to play. Do not settle for anything less.

Game: The Settlers
Publisher: Kompart
Authors: Blue Byte
Price: £34.99
Release: December

W Settlers arning, warning, you are about to read a review about a strategy game. If you are offended by words such as ‘thoughtful’, ‘in depth’, ‘economic simulation’, ‘long term progression’, or whatever, then CLOSE THE MAGAZINE NOW. This is not, repeat not, a cutesy platform game.

Right then, that should have got rid of all those who are never ever going to be into a game that takes several hours to play, so I guess all of you that have made it thus far are potential buyers. There are lots of games that The Settlers reminds me of, as it looks like Populous, plays a bit like Sim City, and the way that the characters look so terrible in screenshots but come to life when you see them moving around their domain is reminiscent of Lemmings. Yup, The Settlers is like lots of things, but still manages to be a unique game, which is truly a rare and satisfying thing to see these days.

The idea of the game is to take over the entire land, which not only involves building up your own little stable economy but also kicking your enemies off their turf like you do in Populous, Conquering in Populous was a messy affair that involved burning, drowning or just plain hacking up your enemies but things just are not that nasty in The Settlers. The tone of the game is set by a cartoony intro sequence which shows a fat knight on a roly-poly pony wandering through a happy little village, and after that it would seem almost sacrilegious to portray violence. The fact is that no-one gets killed in the game, vanquished settlers wander home, and battling knights just get their armour dented. I suppose it makes a change after the carnage of games like Syndicate.

To start a kingdom, you have first got to place your castle somewhere in the land, which in itself is a skill. The ideal spot would be one that is near a lake for fishing, near some mountains for mining, next to some trees for building materials and is flat enough to allows lots of space for building, but it is always a compromise. The castle acts as the seed for your kingdom, with enough settlers, food and building materials to get started, and markers showing your territory boundary.

To build something you just click on a sport, and then click on the building of your choice. This lays the foundations, but nothing happens until you link the building site up to the castle with a path, at which point lots of little guys pour out of the castle. There are 25 different settlers in the game, so first you will see a joiner heading out, who will then be met by a construction worker carrying wood. You then have to busy yourself doing other tasks as the wooden framework gets erected and the house is built in real time.

It is not had to stay busy, as you have got to plan your entire civilisation. Farms need to be built to produce grain and livestock, windmills and bakers produce the bread and even butchers are needed to prepare meat. Come to think about it, the little oinky piggies are the only victims in this entire game. While you are feeding your workers, it is a good idea to keep them busy, so you have got to make sure there is enough basic building materials to go around – you also need iron and gold to produce tools and weapons.

All this sounds horribly complicated, and I suppose it is, but the beauty of the game is that the data’s all supplied in all manner of brilliantly simple ways. The flow of goods through the manufacturing processes is displayed with a series of dials, so if the baker is not getting enough flour to make bread, his dial will be in the red, and if the builders are getting too much wood, their dial will go green. So, you can optimise the growth of your settlement by building more farms for the grain, and diverting the surplus wood to build boats for the fishermen.

Obviously, you are going to run out of land sooner or later, so your task is to expand your frontier, which you do by building guard towers at the edge of your territory. When you finally share a border with any of your enemies, then the pillaging and squabbling starts, with knights bashing each other in, and the winner grabbing all the resources of the loser. But no one gets hurt, remember.

The results of building your domain is fascinating, simply because of the attention to detail. You actually see the crops grow in the fields and the farmers harvest it, and the paths are constantly filled with people delivering goods, waving at each other and walking to work. This attention spreads over to the sound effects, which vary depending on what is on the screen. If you are in the middle of your land, the air is filled with grunting pigs, the hammering construction, the sawing of trees and so on, but if you move to some woods all you hear are birdies tweeting. The barren deserts (which are pretty impassable and therefore good defences) echo to eerie wind noises while the lakes splish and splash gently. It is all quite beautiful.

I found it extremely hard to fault any of this, but before you rush off and buy it, there is one factor that is worth taking into account, and it is not really a criticism, more of a comment. The size of the playing area changes depending on your choice and also the capabilities of the machine. On an A1200, for example, you can have a playing area made up of 600 screens with up to 32,000 settlers wandering about, whereas the standard Amiga can only cope with 150 screens and 8,000 settlers, which is still enough.

The thing is, the bigger the area gets, the longer it takes to conquer. A mid-sized level can take anything up to six hours to take over, so for a full-sized A1200 map, you are looking at double that time, at least. Now seeing as I once took seven hours to win a battle in Dune 2, this length of time does not bother me, and as the game reminds you to save every 30 minutes, you would have to be a real dead-head to play for hours and then have your Amiga crash on you. Admittedly, there are times when you are glad there is an ‘accelerate time’ option, but most of the time it is entertaining just to watch everyone go about their business, while you do something else. I think that it is excellent, but I will also admit that it is a bit of a specialist taste. However, fans of A-Train, Populous and Sim City should head to the shops this instant.
CAM WINSTANLEY

Amiga Power, Issue 32, December 1993, p.p.52-54



"Data is provided in brilliantly simple ways."


Upper UPPERS Witty, imaginative and detailed right down to the last leaf and fishing rod. It is as complex or simple as you want it to be, and thoroughly absorbing.
Downer DOWNERS It is a bit like a non-stop soap opera on a channel of its very own. Playing it will literally devour days of your life.

THE BOTTOM LINE
The cuteness tends to detract from the epic scale of this game, which will either draw you in totally or leave you stone cold. Events change across hours rather than minutes, but that leaves you plenty of time to explore the complexities of an entire growing economy. Hmm, fascinating.
88

P E R C E N T

THE BOTTOM LINE
A1200 You get the option of bigger maps, and more sound effects, giving you that self-satisfied feeling of having something just a bit better and smoother than everyone else.
90
P E R C E N T



Settlers logo  CU Amiga Screen Star

Tony Dillon throws theology to one side as Blue Byte proves that it is not only God that has a hard time.

Settlers T he most important point to make about The Settlers is that it is not a God game. It might look like one, and at times play like one, but there is considerably more depth to it than Populous. By the same stroke, it is not Sim City. Again, there are many facets of it that might be akin to the Maxis classic, but there are a hundred more that are not. In short, rather than being totally original, this is a blend of quite a few game styles. Why the high mark? Because it does the job so well.

In theory, the job in hand is quite a complex one. From a small castle, you have to build a complete, fully functioning township that is self sufficient enough to survive, but strong enough to withstand the constant threat of enemy attack. Just in case you are wondering, to help you build your fully-functioning town you have access to a wealth of natural resources, with the ability to exploit them to the full. For example, if you are located near a large wood, it makes sense to train up a woodcutter, build a sawmill and start building things with wood. Similarly, mountains can be mined for all sorts of ores and treasures, if you can get the right people on the case. These are just some of the things you need to consider when selecting the part of the map you want to position your base. After that, things get really complicated.

As if that was not enough to keep you going, at any one time there are at least two other villages vying for the land and resources, and they are happy to stoop to any level to take the fruits of your hard work. To begin with the villages, they are quite far apart and relatively small, but as the game progresses and the villages grow, they begin to encroach upon each other’s boundaries, and so turn to war.

As battles go, war is quite a civilised thing in The Settlers. There is none of this ‘entire population races to the centre of the map and has a right old scrap’ scenario that appears in games like Populous. Instead, your knights head out to a specified building in enemy territory, where they challenge an opposing knight. There, they fight one on one until the battle is won and the land handed over to the victor.

Settlers There are so many variations on the basic game that you will wonder if you could ever play the same game twice. After all, there are four main types of game (training, missions, one player or split screen two player), which are then broken down into: the type of opposition you can face, the size of your settlement and even the size of the fractally-generated map. So, you would be extremely hard pressed to replicate a particular situation again.

The whole game is mouse controlled, using a combination of icons, information panels and a variety of different ‘clicks’ to keep everything going. A daunting system to use initially, but quite natural once you get the hang of it.
In two-player mode, a second mouse is needed. How many Amiga owners have two mice? I am not sure, but I can see how a joystick would put someone at a real disadvantage.

The game’s biggest charm has to be its presentation. Very rarely do you come across a game that is this much fun to watch. There are animations for everything in the game, with full sound effects to tie in with them ranging from the rustling of the trees to a woodcutter stripping a tree after it has been felled.

At times there is just so much going on on-screen that you just have to sit back and watch for a minute or two. Although most of the sprites are tiny, there is so much character stuffed into them that you just cannot help laughing. After a few minutes of play, you realise that a lot of the time you can tell what is happening simply by listening. If you can hear a hammer striking an anvil, then a quick look in the Smith’s window shows you that tools are being produced.

Of course, effects like birds singing in the trees are purely cosmetic, but these effects do give the game that certain ‘stop and have a look’ appeal that causes so much work to be delayed in the office.
Intelligent sounds and graphics actually mean something are what sets this game apart from so many in its field. And that is even before you start to play it!

The Settlers is a superb game, and I would need most of this magazine to explain it fully. It might not seem like the kind of game that can hook you immediately, but it is only after the first hour of play that you realise just how addictive it is.
Strategists will love the challenge, everyone else will love the game. Who said Germans do not have a sense of humour?

CU Amiga, December 1993, "HOT! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" – Amiga games Special, p.p. 16-17 CU Amiga, April 1993, p.p.54-56

JOB CENTRE
Unlike games like Populous, where the entire population seem to wander about aimlessly, most of the Settlers have a job. A young settler has 25 different careers to choose from, all equally important in their own right. A carrier, for example, does little more than ferry goods from one place to another, whereas a geologist will head into the mountains and search the rocks for the best places to mine. They all have their own distinct image and animation, with characters like The Smith and The Fisherman being a real joy to watch!

BLUE BYTE £25.99
A500
A1500
A500+
A2000
A600
A3000
A1200
A4000
KOMPART, 25 HART ROAD, ST. ALBANS, HERTS AL1 1NF. TEL: 0727 868005
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
TEAM:
CONTROLS:
NUMBER OF DISKS:
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
MEMORY:
 
NOVEMBER
STRATEGY
IN HOUSE
MOUSE
2
2
YES
1Mb
 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
92%
90%
89%
92%
Very challenging, very addictive and great fun to watch. What a great game!
OVERALL: 90%