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SummaryThe best thing in this genre since Colonization - and it has nothing to do with Pirates!
The GoodAn absolutely superb economic model, which will keep anyone interested in trading simulations, occupied for a long time. You can play it as an action game, hunting big fat Cogs with your pirate ships, but you will soon be in big trouble if you do (unless you're really good at it) - this game is not about piracy - pirates are just the least legitimate way to make your competitors head for financial ruin.
Patrician 2 is a solid and complex trading simulation with a touch of city-management, a bit of politics and some action, (but only if you desire as you can let the computer fight all battles automatically) - it is perfectly balanced in my humble opinion, and I think I've been through every game in this genre: 1869, High Seas Trader, Colonization, Merchant Prince and Machiavelli as well as the first Patrician, etc.
The historical backdrop is a rather unique subject matter in computer games, (excepting Patrician 1, of course) and the designers have made a great job creating a believable world. I'm usually really slow with regards to being immersed in a game, but this one captured me right away. In addition the sound, musical score and graphics are much better than you would usually expect from this kind of game (the musical score is close to brilliant, with the same theme being played in different arrangements depending on your location in the game world: Russian style in Novgorod and bagpipes when in Edinburgh) And, if you're familiar with the expression that nothing beats German engineering, well this game is living proof (in it's English release anyway) as there are no bugs to speak of, only some slight translation problems.
The BadIf played only as a trading and management game, there is nothing to dislike, except that there is no option to automatically sell goods from your trading offices, so you have to set up a ship doing this in every city you wish to provide with goods, as a workaround. Other than that, there are only some minor interface problems, like no way to save your trade routes and transfer them to other ships. Most of the problems seem to have been fixed in an add-on, but unfortunately this has not been released outside German-speaking countries yet... :-(
Also the game may seem a bit too tough in the beginning as it is actually built around strict logic - for example, weapons are usually hard to come by in any town, but if you visit one which has until recently been under a siege, you'll usually find weapons in abundance (as the townsfolk don't need them anymore) - this is actually so logical, it should be obvious, but it's still hard to imagine it being implemented in a computer game, so most players probably won't notice this for a long time - but can you really blame a simulation game for living up to real life?
....Jeez, I can't really seem to find anything bad to say about it, can I? Maybe I should apply for a job at Ascaron :-)
The Bottom LineThis game is definitely challenging and fun. But the game is not just about moving goods from city to city, making a profit - you will also have to establish industries, develop the cities of The Hanse, ensuring the markets are well-supplied and the cities well-defended against attackers. You'll have to deal with pirates (or maybe even start up a little pirate operation of your own), send expeditions to Mediterranean or North American ports and more. Eventually you may become the Lord Mayor of your home town, or be charged as fleet commander of The Hanse, before you (hopefully) finally achieve your goal - to become the Alderman, the leader of the Hanse.
Another reviewer on this site complained that there was too much trading involved..?!! In a trading simulation?..well, sorry, but that's like writing up a review on Unreal Tournament, complaining that there's too much Multi-player and way too much shooting involved..come on, be fair.
It seems he unfortunately mistook the game for a Pirates! clone, and let me just say this up front, to avoid any future mistakes: This is not a Pirates! clone and it doesn't even pretend to be. And besides, how many people consider Pirates! a trading simulation? I seem to recall it being and action/adventure game with a bit of trading slapped in for atmosphere - if Pirates! had been judged as a trading sim it would have failed miserably.
Patrician 2 is the best economical simulation game in many years, even giving economic sims with a more modern backdrop a good slapping, with it's far superior economic model, in which the price of a good is not just determined by the supply and demand for that good, but also by the supply and demand of essentially every other good on the market. Believe me, there's enough challenge in that alone to keep you playing for months.
So forget all about the dumb "me-too tycoon" games currently flooding the market (Ascaron should have named this game Hanse Tycoon instead - they would have sold millions of copies), and rush down and buy a copy of Patrician 2. If you ever liked any kind of trading sim, you really won't regret it.