Version Reviewed: 1.1.1 (iPhone OS 3.0 Tested)
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound [rating:4.5/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:4.5/5]
User Interface [rating:3.5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:4/5]
Developed by BlueByte and published by Gameloft under exclusive license from Ubisoft, The Settlers sees the critically acclaimed real time strategy PC-based classic come to life, on the iPhone! Set in a time of Romans, Vikings and Mayans, the game involves you in building a thriving and efficient community. Working together to complete a wide range of tasks, your aim is to create and build up a sustainable settlement village.
Goals and task range from finding territory, constructing buildings and structures all the while trying to ensure the constant supply of the basic and necessary raw materials. Moving in-game, the game consists of 4 campaign modes. These include: Roman, Viking, Mayan and Dark Tribe, and within each of these campaign modes you'll find a further 6 levels in which for you to complete. Entering a level will display a short introduction explaining who has sent you to this land, and your goals for that particular level. Once the level loads you won't be alone. The game takes you through a quite lengthy tutorial to get you used to both the landscape, and your user controls.
The controls within the game are pretty straightforward, and in my opinion have been implemented well. In the bottom right you'll find your 'Buildings' button. Tapping this will bring up 'Build Menu' and from here you can choose a type of structure you would like to build. Once you've chosen your building, it appears on the land as a movable object, and once you're happy and want to place it down so your Settlers can start to build it for you, simply tap the 'tick' button in the bottom left. If the patch of land is not available to build on for whatever reason, the game will tell you by displaying a red cross in the placement area. Now you can sit back and watch them build it for you. If the process is gets a little too boring, you can speed up the action by hitting the 'fast forward' button, top right. Tapping a building once you've built it gives you further options, including the option to demolish. I found these options to be locked by default, and are only unlocked when needed.
At any time in the game you can pause gameplay by hitting the pause button, top left. Doing so will also give you options to view your level objectives again, save the current level you're on along with your progress, or load a previous level. Need to zoom in on the action? Due to the 'pinch' gesture being taken by another in-game feature which we'll get into a little later, zooming is performed by the 'zoom slider' located on center of the screen to the right hand side. Running from + to - you just slide your finger to magnify zoom. Zoom isn't brilliant, but it does the job. Now, while I found the graphics on this title to be - fantastic, I did find that zooming in fully did seem to dramatically reduced the quality of them. In some areas the graphics became both pixelated and blotchy. It doesn't spoil the game, but it's something I reckon could (and should) be fixed.
Some tasks and goals within the game can't be performed by your normal working settlers though, sometimes some jobs require specialists. That's why you'll find the 'Specialist' menu, bottom right. From here you can 'order' your specialist - a geologist, for example. Having many settlers on screen can get a little confusing, though. Despite the on-screen prompts, you'll be needing another way to organise them. Remember that pinch gesture I was talking about? Using two fingers you can select a group of your settlers, and move them to a certain point on the land. To do this, simply select them with a pinch selection box, and tap where you'd like them to go. Once done, tap the 'stop hand' button, bottom left, and you can carry on working with your other settlers. During the game you'll find various raw materials. When you've done some research with your geologists, you can start building mines for each of these materials, and once complete these raw materials will periodically replenish.
The game is both immersive and addicting, involving you as the player and requiring you to keep an eye on a virtual land, it's efficiency and survival. With great in-game graphics and audio, The Settlers is highly recommended for people who digg the likes of Command and Conquer, Age of Empires, or RTS genre. If I have one want for this game it's I'd like Gameloft to consider adding a 'freeplay' mode. Currently the game revolves solely around 'Campaign modes,' and I think it could benefit it's replay value to allow the user to just play around with the settlers, building whatever they like. Overall I like The Settlers. It's one of those Sunday-afternoon games, which doesn't need much effort, but is a pleasure to play.