Will Venice rise - time to set sail11 Dec 2013 0
Rise of Venice is the latest strategy trading game from Kalypso games and is set in the 15th century Renaissance period. The game opens with a very nice comic book style introduction, which gives you the background storyline. You take on the character of a young merchant persuaded by his dying grandfather to abandon his ideals of being a mercenary to hopefully build a trading empire that will advance the status and standing of his family, and lead to him becoming the Doge of Venice. At the beginning of the game you have just one ship and very few resources with which to start building your empire.
Rise of Venice opening screen.
Promising your dying grandfather.
Your trading career begins.
It's all about trade
Your lonely ship starts in Venice Harbour, and you initially have a couple of other ports that you can access on the game map, which is set in the eastern half of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. After a couple of relatively easy missions to help get you settled with the game controls you are up and running, or off and sailing if you prefer. Buying, selling, supply and demand are the essential elements of the game. It is crucial that you master the basic mechanics of this to be able to succeed. You will realise quite quickly, however, that your one ship is not going to be enough to keep up with the pace.
Venice, home of your trading empire
Overview of the trading lanes.
List of goods available to buy and sell.
Expand your empire
Expand your empire as soon as you start buying and selling. This is done by simply moving your ships and convoys between ports, and choosing which items to buy and then which port to sell your goods to, hopefully at a profit. Other avenues to expand your trading empire will also begin to open up. There are missions to supply cities with specific goods, and you can explore and uncover new areas and ports in the game world. These in turn make new and even more exotic goods available to trade. All sounds too easy? Quite careful management is needed to keep everything under control; new ships and convoys will need to be built and crews recruited or acquired.
Take on missions.
Equip your ships and convoys.
Accessing port details.
Overview of port details.
Ships will also need to be maintained and armed, and all the while new abilities applied to characters as your experience rating increases, which is exactly what you need to do to advance in the game. To level up you need to make the in-game targets, which is all OK, but you have to satisfy a senate vote to get it. So you will need to be careful how you achieve your targets. Sometimes things like cheap booze trading routes, which may make you loads of cash, are frowned upon at a higher level and can make your reputation drop like a stone.
Keep your crew in tip-top condition.
Organise your storage and warehousing.
Satisfy the senate to advance.
Is it all at sea?
Not all the game happens on the high seas. Much of your success or failure will depend on what you do on dry land as well. Warehouses for storing goods will need to be constructed. These are useful for exploiting a sudden demand in the market if you are holding a stock of a rare commodity for instance. Visits to cathedrals, building churches and doing good deeds are just a few of the things necessary to keep the wheels of industry greased. Always best to keep on the good side of the church I find, especially in this period! Then there is, of course, plenty of intrigue that can be introduced into the game by visiting some of the more unsavoury establishments in ports around the game world. There are also plenty of characters available for hire to heap all kinds of misery and woe on your opponents. A few warehouses full of goods need stealing? No problem! But be aware that in this game what comes round also goes round.
Keep on the good side of the church.
Up for some muck spreading? He's your man.
Like to permanently borrow somebody else's goods?
A bit of bribery to spoil somebody?s day.
Can we fight?
At certain times during the game you will need to deal with the pirates that inhabit the game world. These battles are reasonably simplistic, and can be fought automatically or manually. But as with the rest of the game how you have equipped, updated and maintained you ships, convoys, captains and crews will depend on whether you will be successful in defeating the enemy or not. There is no point in having a perfectly setup trade network if you have neglected your ships and find your hard earned cargoes all sitting at the bottom of the sea. There is no supply and demand down there!
City Hall activities.
Manage your ships and convoys with the harbour master.
Onwards and upwards
Once you have got yourself established, its time to see just how much of a Renaissance trading tycoon you can really become. More varied and interesting missions are available as time goes on, but it is essential to keep the housekeeping up to date and in everything in order, on land and on board ship. It really does become one giant juggling act keeping the empire growing. Trading, building, and beating pirates, are all in a day?s work. And just when you think you have it all ticking along nicely, you can be guaranteed that somebody will come along and steal all your goods or suddenly your reputation is in tatters! If you thought that Rise of Venice is just about gently pushing little boats around the Mediterranean making a few easy trades, well it isn't. With all the potential variables involved, be prepared to deal with events like plague, fire and the odd volcano going off now and then. Rise of Venice certainly will test your management skills.
See what your competitors are up to in other ports.
Always keep an eye on what's going on in your chronicle.
It's OK - just another volcano going off. Don't miss the trading opportunity though!
If you are seeing this guy, then you?re in trouble.
Once you have completed the campaign against the AI, you can test your skills against real opponents in the various multiplayer options. Rise of Venice has enough variation and depth to keep you trading for months and beyond!
Does it sink or swim?
I have to confess that this is the first time that I have played a strategy trading game of this type, so it was quite interesting to see how I would get on with it. The game ran very smoothly on my mid range PC with all the graphics settings on as high as they can go. So no problems there. The game mechanics were also quite easy to pick up, so I was happily trading away in no time at all. There is a lot of micromanagement that can get into the game, especially later on, and mistakes can creep in if you forget to set things up properly. On more than one occasion I had convoys sitting idle and goods not going to where they should have been. This is not a fault of the game, but you do need to keep on top of this type of thing to advance properly. Fortunately, you can pause the game and spend as much time as you like in making sure everything is running smoothly. In conclusion I actually really enjoyed the game. It was nice to play a different genre of game, and something that you can just take your time with. And if you are the type to aspire to be the Apprentice of the Renaissance world then this is just the game for you!
Is there any more?
At the time of writing this review new DLC is also available: Rise of Venice - Beyond the Sea. This new expansion adds 13 new cities and substantially enlarges the game world into the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. New ships and even harder tasks are the order of the day. So if you are not happy with your current trading empire, here is the expansion you need for buying and selling heaven.