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Publisher: Ubisoft    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.4

The Settlers 7: Paths To A Kingdom
November 7, 2010 | Jon Carr

Click to enlarge

Gorgeous Visuals On Every Map

Mac OS X: 10.6.3 | CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor | RAM: 2 GB | Hard Disk: 8 GB | Graphics: 256 MB RAM | Singleplayer: 33.6kbit/s upstream | Multiplayer: 128 kbit/s upstream | A permanent connection to the Internet is required at all times

The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, developed for Mac by TransGaming, was my first experience with Ubisoft's new DRM scheme, as well as their uPlay service which synchronizes your saved games online and gives you access to various game related features. It was also my first Settlers game since The Settlers II all the way back in 1996. Blue Byte Software developed the original Settlers in 1993 and is still at it in 2010 with The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom. I downloaded the digital download and 5.4 gigabytes later I began installing and setting it up. After entering the serial number, creating a uPlay account, and waiting several minutes for patches I started the campaign…and then was greeted by a loss of connection screen which cheerfully told me I would be unable to play until I connected to the server again, but my progress had been saved. Frustrated, I closed the game and played something else instead. The game may or may not set you off to a bad start with its obnoxious DRM - which is really Ubisoft's fault. Instead, hopefully you'll start off being enchanted by the beautiful music and charming visuals the game presents at first sight and sound, as well as the solid strategic mechanics you face later in the campaign and multiplayer.

The menu offers you a standard mix of strategy modes: Campaign, Skirmish maps versus the AI, and Multiplayer which also sports a ranked ladder Empire mode. In the campaign you take up the role of the enthusiastic Princess Zoe dispatched by her father to free the land of Tandria from the evil lord Wolvering. The campaign is in essence a long tutorial introducing new buildings, units and strategies as each mission progresses. The simple story is serviceable, if a bit predictable at times. It has adequate voice work told through various colorful storybooks, in-game cutscenes, and pre-rendered clips. Players likely won't feel a strong connection with the characters or storyline, but it's enough of a reason to make it through the campaign once, and it serves as a good primer for Multiplayer.

Everything is in real time, but it still has a slow pace since the game is more of an economic simulation with light war elements. There are no real surprise attacks or ambushes, you can see your enemies at all times and you have no direct control over any single unit. You just direct what you want from your workers and army. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a different style of strategy from more mainstream titles.


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