|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nitro Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Paradox Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug 4, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Youll have 150 years to expand your empire. Colonization is crucial to your expansion but, like everything else, its all dependent on commerce. Regions you can conquer reach from northern Canada to the Caribbean. While most of your exports will be sold in your homeland, its not necessarily advantageous to stick as close to home as possible. The more rare the goods, the more money it will generate, and thats the most important commodity of all.
Each nation - and there are seven to choose from - have different attributes ranging from large, fast fleets to slow, powerful, and virtually indestructible ships. Once youve staked your territory, its time to make some decisions. Ultimately, you want to make a killing. You do this by harvesting and/or manufacturing goods for sale or trade. As I mentioned, there are some battles, but this game is primarily focused on conquering the Americas through diplomatic means such as trade. Buy low, sell high, and make sure you have good distribution, which means having a secure and lucrative trade route. This route will also be used to bring in supplies and colonists. You can populate your territory and expand your operation, but of course, youve got to keep your people happy, which, in turn, makes them more productive. Youll need to satisfy their needs for food, shelter, religion, and entertainment. There's much to consider, and you can have the game assist you with hints or do it yourself. The developers did a nice job of making the micromanagement feel natural.
Resources are plentiful in the New World. There is fur, tobacco, chocolate, coffee, cotton, iron, gold, and pirated Led Zeppelin albums. These resources are worth a fortune to the right buyer. You can increase your revenue by manufacturing items from these resources. You can make weapons, tools, jewelry, and clothing. This will increase the value of your resources but at the expense of building manufacturing facilities and having the workforce necessary to churn the goods out. You can import colonists from Europe or train the natives. Regardless of what you do, its important not to over-extend yourself financially. This can happen quite easily. Establishing a lucrative trade route is extremely important, but youll also have to defend it from rival factions. They tend to get jealous if they see youre doing well.
From a wide view, the game looks amazing, not to say it doesn't look great up close, but from a distance it takes on a majestic quality, inspiring you to acquire more of everything. The interface is large, taking up most of the screen, but making selections is easy and intuitive. A few clicks and moves of the sliders, and you're on your way. The battle graphics display fire, smoke, and damage in real-time. It's almost a shame to have to destroy such nicely detailed ships. Even the water looks good as it's rendered in various states from calm to turbulent and at different times of day. Not to be outdone, the music is equally majestic and epic, definitely movie-quality. As you would expect, there isn't a lot of dialogue or sound effects but such is the nature of the gameplay. At the very least, everything is where it should be.
Commander: Conquest of the Americas is not your typical, long, drawn-out sim. The advisers are there to keep a fire lit under your butt so there's no time to rest on your laurels. The structured pace is a refreshing change. Let's hope the sequel has multi-player.
CCC Senior Writer