PC reviews

‘Anno 2205’ Review

Anno2205_Earth_City_02_Day

Platform PC   Genre City Builder/Strategy

Developer Blue Byte   Publisher Ubisoft

Anno 2205 is a city-builder strategy game that emphasises resource management and profit rather than citizen happiness and urban planning. Rather than role-playing as a mayor, you are the CEO of a corporation whose goals are to make as much profit as possible and build a fusion reactor on the moon. Anno 2205 is a peaceful, strategic game that tries to keep players engaged with combat scenarios and a story guiding progression. However, while city building and resource management are fun and rewarding as you watch your settlements grow, the story doesn’t go to interesting places and the combat scenarios become mundane after a couple of missions.

Rather than giving the player a blank canvas and letting go, Anno 2205 offers a more structured approach to construction through a narrative thread. In essence, your company has been selected to be a part of the Lunar Licensing Program, meaning you have been granted access to mine resources from the moon. However, first you have to build your company up enough to access the moon. I enjoyed this structured approach to city building because I always felt like there was something new I was working towards. It also meant I gained access to new structures at a steady pace, not being overwhelmed by all of the different resources.

While the structured approach works well, the story being told never goes anywhere interesting. There is conflict between a terrorist organisation, the Orbital Watch, who is against colonising the moon, but the story does not go into much detail explaining their motives or reasons. The only thing that came out of the Orbital Watch plot line was the chance for some real-time strategy combat scenarios. While these missions do a good job of breaking up the repetition of city building earlier in the game, they quickly become mundane. Combat often comes down to selecting all of your ships and moving them around the map as they destroy enemy fleets. There’s not much strategy required, except knowing when you should use power-ups like missile bombardments or repair drones. Thankfully, these missions, except the first one, can be skipped if you choose to complete an alternative task.

Anno2205_Screen_MoonMaintenanceStation_E3_150615_4pmPST_1434360429

The Moon

Anyway, back to the city building. As you progress through the main tasks, you’ll gain access to two other regions aside from the temperate region of Earth that you start at. The second region is the Arctic and the third is the Moon. All three regions have different gameplay requirements which keep city building feeling fresh, especially in the late game when you will be constantly switching between the three. The temperate region is your traditional region with no special requirements. In the Arctic, because it’s cold, residential buildings must be put near a source of heat to make workers as productive as possible. This means disregarding a good looking city that is zoned for residential and industry. Instead, the town gets its own unique feel of being a small, isolated mining community. Finally, on the Moon all structures have to be placed inside energy shields which prevent them from being destroyed by asteroids or terrorist bombardments. These unique gameplay elements add variety to the city building and result in three different looking areas. The worlds are also massive, providing plenty of building space so you don’t have to compact everything if you don’t want to.

Anno 2205 is all about making money. There are a couple of ways you can go about doing this. The first is to attract as many workers (residents) to your company as possible. This is a key part of the game, because more workers equals more money and a higher company rank. Just about everything you build is for your workers, to keep them satisfied enough to work at their full potential. The need for more workers creates a domino effect on all of your resources. As you bring more workers in by building residential blocks, you need to increase your supplies of the resources they require, such as food and water at a basic level, and quantum computers at higher levels. If the most basic needs are not met, workers cannot be promoted and thus won’t be as productive as possible.

Anno2205_Screen_Arctic_Tier01_Estate_GC_150805_10amCET_1438624181

The Arctic

However, increasing the amount of workers you have is not the only way to make money. Anno 2205 features a trading system between your own regions, and between a world market place, which is sort of like a stock exchange for resources. Trading between your own regions is necessary later in the game as workers in one region begin to desire resources that can only be produced in another region. It creates a feeling of a thriving economy as you see supply lines traveling from region to region. The other option is to sell or buy goods from the world market. Sometimes it might be cheaper to just buy a particular good from the world market rather than producing it yourself. The price of resources can also rise or fall in Anno 2205, meaning players who want to engage with the world marketplace can partake in the risky behaviour of buying excess cheap resources in hopes of their price rising later for a big gain. Taking advantage of the market place and over producing higher priced items can lead to large profits. The system allows for different ways to make money, encouraging different play styles. However, you won’t be able to bank it all on the world market place because trade routes with the world market are limited depending on your company rank (which is determined by how many workers you have).

I do wish there was a better system to track resource inventory across your regions. You have to load each region to see how many resources are available, but I would have liked to be able to see that before loading in, because the load times when switching between regions can take about a minute sometimes. It would just make trading and prioritising production easier, especially in the later game when there are lots of different goods in play.

Anno2205_Strategic_Map_Trade_Routes

While there will be ups and downs in how much money you are making at any time, the game starts to become a bit of a grind when you first unlock access to the Moon. Structures cost much more to maintain on the moon, so I found myself having to juggle which industries I had operating and which I had paused. It made the game more strategic as I turned off factories in the other regions that already had an abundance of goods produced, but profit flows were still trickling very slowly. However, effectively managing that stage of development then led to a surge of profit.

That was on the standard difficulty, which features increased worker productivity and other benefits. This mode is advertised as one for the builders, who just want to see their cities grow and grow and grow. The other two harder difficulties present a much more strategic game because productivity is lower. From the get go I had to prioritise resources and try to make the most out of limited gains. While it becomes more engaging and strategic, there is a bigger grind overall, especially in the end-game, as profits are much lower.

When it comes to graphics, Anno 2205 looks great. Buildings are distinctly recognisable and feature a nice blend between modern design and science fiction. On the other hand, panning shots, which occur a few times throughout the game as short introductory cut-scenes (they can also be manually activated to get a different view of your city), chug. Even when I lowered the settings the panning shots never ran smoothly. I get the feeling they sometimes acted as invisible loading screens, but they were never pleasant to watch because of it. Other than that, the game ran smoothly for me with only one crash after an extended playing time.

the-verdict

Anno 2205 is an enjoyable city-builder that focuses on profit over anything else. I enjoyed playing the role of a corporation rather than urban planner because I felt like I had more options when it came to making money. The world market place is a fun system to take risks on, even if they aren’t too hefty, and added another layer of strategy to resource production. The different regions, which are quite spacious, provide gameplay variety with different building requirements. Further, the structured progression always gave me something to work towards, while still maintaining the sandbox structure of the genre. Anno 2205 is not without its issues though. The narrative does not really go anywhere interesting, despite touching on issues to do with colonisation and Arctic preservation; the combat scenarios become mundane after a couple of missions, even on harder difficulties; and the game becomes a grind on higher difficulties and in the end-game. Despite these issues, if you are looking for another city-building experience, Anno 2205 is definitely worth your time and money.

The Good

  • Structured progression keeps the player moving forward while maintaining sandbox freedom
  • Trading system provides fun alternatives to making money
  • Zones are very spacious and different regions have unique building requirements

The Bad

  • Narrative never goes anywhere interesting
  • Combat scenarios are mundane
  • Panning shots perform poorly
  • Game becomes a grind towards the end-game

The Score: 7.9


Nathan Manning is an Xbox Editor for AnalogAddiction. He will definitely never be becoming an urban planner. You can find him on Twitter and AnalogAddiction there as well.

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