The Settlers logo Gamer Gold

Tum-ter-tum-tum-tum. No, it's not a remedy for indigestion, but Settlers could well be a cure for your boredom.

Although the task of reviewing Settlers lay on my shoulders, it took a writer's fortnight (four days to those who don't over-exaggerate everything) to claw the disks out of various sweaty palms. During the lead up to this review I've not heard so many monitors purring with sampled elation or seen so many gleeful faces of concentration reflecting in engrossing screens.

Before I even booted Settlers up, I'd had various excited responses from the most unlikely of candidates. Great they said, attention to detail they said, intelligent they said, you've got to be kidding I frowned.

Now, right at this present second, you're probably gazing down at the page, while subconsciously looking at the screenshots, thinking hmm, another "I play God"-type game. Well, to all intents and purposes, as usual dear reader you are correct. However, Settlers is more than an also ran - it contains some of the most intelligent interactions between player and characters yet to be seen on an Amiga.

But what's it all about? I hear you scream from your fake leather armchair. Well, the main aim of Settlers is to build and run an organised, prosperous city and gain control of other enemy communities.

At first glance it doesn't seem a very complicated plot, but the reality is a a very different kettle of fish. At its most rudimentary, Settlers is based on the good old-fashioned theory of supply and demand. However, there are many different aspects within this simple-sounding equation which you must keep under tight control to be a successful leader.

For instance, one aspect of Settlers is to conquer enemy territories. To achieve this warmongering ambition you need a nice army of knights. To keep these hardy warriors happy, they need to be motivated and armed. Well, to be armed they need weapons and to be sufficiently motivated to go out raping and pillaging on a Saturday morning they like large quantities of gold.

As you might expect, gold needs mining and weapons need to be forged from other mined materials. So, in order to extract these raw materials from the ground you need geologists to find the veins of various ores and a huge workforce to mine it out.

Now, hordes of workers have a hefty appetite between them, which means you must have a sufficient amount of food to keep the workforce with full bellies.

What all this is building up to say is that Settlers has a very complicated infrastructure within it. From the example above you can see quite a complicated chain system to keep one faction of your population contended.

As there are many factions and layers within these groups, you got quite a task on your hands. Because of its complicated nature, Settlers comes equipped with a well documented manual and a number of tutorial missions.

Everything within Settlers is controlled by icons via your squeaky pal the mouse. At first these take some getting to grips with, but once you're conversant you'll soon be planning that Barratt estate.

The first job you've to decide upon is where to begin your settlement. This is done by moving your mouse and clicking on your left button, which displays an on-screen icon of the place you have selected to build on.

The next step is to check out the surrounding land to see if this potential estate has the raw materials to be prosperous. Once you've plumped for a particular location, then simply clicking on the build icon constructs your first palatial residence.

After this initial placement of your HQ, you can start building and the fun really starts. The economy of a successful settlement bases its foundation on sturdy grass roots. So in Settlers it's important for you to start building the correct type of production chain which will best utilise your raw materials.

For example, if your settlement has woodcutters but no forester, then the net result will be a chain breakdown. This will mean that after a duration because the forester has not planted saplings, the woodcutter will start running out of timber. The knock-on effect of this will be an eventual slump in the manufacture of buildings.

Something so simple in its essence could actually cause a breakdown for the whole of your settlement. So it's very important that you use your raw materials to build the right balance within your community. To aid you in this desperate bid to balance your resources, you are given a series of tables and statistics to gauge how your little fellows are getting along.

Within this section of settlers you can do alter the production of goods and the priorities in which they are generated.

All of this probably hasn't left you quaking with excitement, itching to get down to your gaming emporium and charging home with your copy of Settlers clasped tightly in your perspiring palm.

While Settlers won't grab you in print, rest assured after 20 minutes of playing you'll be absolutely engrossed. What could have been a grossly serious affair has been beautifully crafted by German software house Blue Byte,

They have managed to give Settlers a very clever blend of unique playability and cutesy humour which somehow combines to great effect. Each Settler has a different style individual to his or his craft, so you can differentiate between each trade. As you scroll about your vibrant community, don't be surprised to see a butcher chopping up meat or a blacksmith forging tools while his chimney bellows out smoke from the hearth.

The fighting sequences have been handled in a very comical cutesy fashion. Rather than blood and guts everywhere, you're treated to some cutesy rolls, twirls and cartoony exits when you're beaten.

From the moment you see the huge intro sequence to the time you see the wind rustle through the trees or blow across the lakes, it's hard not to be impressed. The same applies too to the sound effects, which alter as you scroll around your graphical world. One moment you might hear the honest graft of a woodcutter felling another pine, the next you'll hear the waves lapping around the edge of a lake.

As if this isn't enough for your money, you also get 50 missions and a two-player option so you can battle it out with a friend or your Amiga.

With so many of the same type of title knocking around in the shops it's really refreshing to see a product that is fresh and entertaining. Also, unlike the majority of software that is flung upon us without thought or thorough checking, Settlers is actually well programmed, with almost no disk-swapping and hardly any accessing.

The bottom line is that Settlers is an absolute pleasure to play and could well become one of the contenders for our Game of the Year award.

How green is your valley?
The Settlers
  1. One mine
  2. Boatyard
  3. Woodcutter
  4. Guardhouse
  5. Corn farmer
  6. Castle
  7. Forester
  8. Stonecutter

A Knight's tale

The Settlers
A tired knight was on the road to a spy nun in habit,
but from his convent quest he needed rest, and ended up with a rabbit.

The Settlers
As day drew in our tired knight he came across a village,
I'm tired, I'm sore, and life's a bore, I can no longer rape and pillage.


The Settlers
I'll settle down in this here town and live a life of truth.
What's this I hear, it sounds quite queer, he's banging an iron hoof.

The Settlers
A knight like me deserves a place that's plush and out of danger
A double stable, four rooms, a table and an en suite torture chamber.

The Settlers
I like the meat, I like the keep and I like the marble floor
All brass knobs and halogen hobs and a massage parlour next door.

The 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.

Fed 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.

Everybody's got to be somewhere - all the workers need somewhere to live, so here's our guide to the 12 most important dwellings in Settlers.

The Settlers
Plants saplings to replace those harvested by the Woodcutter.

The Settlers
Searches the land for stone to shape into blocks for new buildings.

The Settlers
Enables you expand and defend your fledgling empire.

The Settlers
Chops down trees for use in new buildings, tools and weapons.

The Settlers
Grinds wheat into flour for bread.

The Settlers
Part of the food chain which supplies grub to the mineral miners.

The Settlers
Builds boats for those crucial ferry crossings over Settler's lakes.

The Settlers
Another part of the food chain, supplying bacon to the miners.

The Settlers
Manufactures swords and shields for use by your knights.

The Settlers
Uses the ores collected from the mines to make pig iron.

The Settlers
Turns raw tree trunks into planks for use in construction.

The Settlers
Turns processed flour into bread, then sends it out to the miners.

The Settlers logo Amiga Joker Hit

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!

Es 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...

Wie es sich für einen Klassiker gehört, ist das zugrundeliegende Konzept des Spiels recht simpel. Bis zu vier Siedlergruppen 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.

Selbst die größte Siedlung beginnt in 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.

Dieses 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.

Obwohl 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.

Der 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.

Muß 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)

The 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.

Warning, 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.

Data is provided in brilliantly simple ways.

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.

The Settlers
  1. Here's a suitable site for building a small house. Flatter ground lets you build bigger houses.
  2. Clicking on this will set a foundation stone down, marking the site of a house.
  3. If you build something in the wrong place, you can burn it down with this icon.
  4. You get all the map screens up from this icon.
  5. Details of production and storage of men and materials are accessed through this.
  6. All the stats for saving games and knights go here.
  7. You can set these alarm clocks so the game'll remind you to check on various screens.
  8. All the paths in your kingdom have to run from flag to flag, so you can plan a network.

The Settlers See that comic knight with the funny eyes and feathery helmet? That's you, that is. The Settlers He's big and ugly, so he's bound to be one of your enemies. Pretty poor dental health too. The Settlers This is an enemy agent, trained to mingle with your people. Only joking, he's a bad guy too.
The Settlers And this is your best ever friend. In the two-player mode, you can carve out a kingdom together. The Settlers Don't be fooled by his regal clobber and crown, like you he's just a pretender to the throne. The Settlers Lovely Suzi here likes travelling and working with children and is currently a veterinary assistant.

The 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.

The 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.

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?


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!