If only the real world worked like Anno. Plonk a Rat Killer down in among your settlement of houses and that’s rat infestations sorted. Plonk a Fire Station down nearby and any fires that break out are dealt with in a blink of an eye. Plonk a Public Bath down and everyone smells of roses. There’s no, “sorry, sir, he’s out on another job at the moment”, or “sorry, madam, we weren’t able to save your house from the raging fire because we got stuck in traffic on the way”. No, in Anno, as long as you provide the people with public services, they work a charm, and everybody’s happy as Larry.
Lambeth Council take note. You wouldn’t have five in six people moaning about paying their council tax if things worked like they do in Anno. Give the people what they want, and they’re happy. And you know what happens when people are happy? They’re willing to pay high taxes.
This, basically, is how Anno – Create a new World, the series’ debut on Wii, works. It’s a top down Civilisation/Settlers-style game set during the heady days of pirates and posh English seamen. Originally a hardcore PC strategy game, Anno on the Wii is a somewhat downsized affair, with a cartooney art style and heart-warming sound affects that fit perfectly on Nintendo’s family-oriented console.
Don’t let that put you off, though. As far as Wii games go, Anno is positively brain-busting. On the surface, and during the easy as pie story mode (which is nothing more than a 10-hour tutorial), the game is a simple affair that poses little threat to your expansion and settlement management. But play the game on continuous mode and it quickly becomes apparent that a lot more micro-management is required to win.
The careful placement of Market Places in relation to your resource production buildings, for example, so that they’re being supplied with resources like food and building materials to the maximum efficiency, is essential if you’re to keep your ever-expanding population smiling. Even something like road construction, which ties all of your buildings together, requires much forethought if you’re to get your civilisation to the fifth and highest level: Aristocrats.
The game doesn’t really teach you how everything works, leaving you to figure out much of the advanced stuff on your lonesome. This is perhaps Anno’s biggest failing, because in continuous mode your big settlements can quickly start to spiral out of control and, like a baby crying, it’s often hard to work out why.