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Overall, Northland is definitely an improvement over the Cultures 2 title, which makes it even better for those of us who were big Cultures 2 fans to begin with. Everything that made the original Cultures 2 game is back in, including the ease of gameplay and extreme hours of potential playtime. The addition of the creation mode also helps to prolong the enjoyment; since even long after the single player and campaign settings are gone … you can still continue to create your own single and multiplayer maps. In my initial preview, I was a little worried about what might happen to the series since it went from JoWood to another developer … but I’m happy to say that they proved me wrong and it only got better.
In the early years of the RTS genre, it combined combat with resource management. Over time, things branched out, with more combat-oriented play (with Massive Assault as a recent example) and more city management-oriented play, like the Caesar games. Northland is on the far end of the management side, with little combat to go around. This can be pretty entertaining, in a Sim City-like way, and Northland's addition of individual unit management like in The Sims does offer some intriguing added depth, on paper. There are a few roadblocks, however.
Northland, the third game in the Cultures real-time strategy series, has finally been released in North America, after shipping last summer in Europe. The game offers a lot of content and is sure to keep hardcore Cultures fans busy for quite a while. However, those who are new to the series may not get past Northland's dated graphics engine or game design, which hasn't evolved with the rest of the RTS genre. A showstopping technical glitch that affects ATI cards may keep some players from even loading the game at all.