December 01, 2009

Mayans in The Settlers

Game review:  The Settlers--iPhone / iPod Touch

By Simon BullThe Settlers, from Gameloft, is a mission-based game featuring 21 campaigns covering four factions--Romans, Vikings, Mayans and Dark Tribe.

You must create colonies, scope for minerals, build mines, harvest raw materials, assemble a workforce and manufacture tools, vehicles and weapons.
And:You must also gather a strong army ready to defend your territory or conquer others. Combat becomes a necessary part of the game, although it’s nothing like on the same tactical level as say Command & Conquer.

Despite the Romans, Vikings and Mayans not exactly being renowned for their diplomacy, the emphasis here isn’t on using brute force to crush enemies but rather on strategic planning and managing the smooth flow of resources to help your settlements thrive.
Bull's conclusion:Verdict: 8 out of 10--The Settlers swims against the tide in the sea of casual, throwaway games flooding the iPhone/iPod Touch market. This is a quality, multifaceted and challenging game which won’t suit everyone’s portable gaming tastes but it’s a must-have for strategy fans.Comment:  The review doesn't say what distinguishes the four groups of settlers, if anything. Maybe they have the same or similar abilities and simply look different.

In terms of stereotypes, I'm wondering about the so-called Dark Tribe. I hope that isn't a bunch of spearchucking savages from Africa or anywhere else. Because that would be bad.

I presume the game doesn't provide any authentic history or culture for the four factions. I presume each faction is equally likely to colonize, trade, and negotiate or break off talks and go to war. If the Maya (Mayans) are just as civilized as the Romans and Vikings, I'd have to call The Settlers a decent game.

When civilizations clash

Actually, it seems like a fun idea to throw three imperial cultures from different eras together and see what happens. It's kind of like the Deadliest Warrior TV series or the Marvel vs. DC comic books.

It sounds similar to Age of Empires III, but I believe the players in that game are contemporaries. You might see Aztec or Lakota or Iroquois warriors vs. European soldiers circa 1500-1600, but you wouldn't see anything as anachronistic as Romans vs. Vikings vs. the Maya.

In reality, these groups would have radically different advantages and disadvantages. The Romans would have metal weapons and armor as well as military discipline and training. The Vikings might have their lightning raiding techniques using ships and longbows as well as a fierce individuality. The Maya might have an unconventional guerilla-warfare style as well as religious unity.

Without the element of surprise or disease, there wouldn't necessarily be a clearcut winner. After all, the "barbaric" Germans and Huns defeated the Romans eventually. Less "civilized" cultures often beat more "civilized" cultures because they're more flexible and open to change.

For more on the subject, see Video Games Featuring Indians.


dmarks said...

"The Romans would have metal weapons and armor as well as military discipline and training. The Vikings might have their lightning raiding techniques using ships and longbows as well as a fierce individuality."

I'm thinking that the Vikings would easily rule the seas. I think the Romans were formidable in their day, but that was long before the Vikings.

I can't think of the Maya doing as well against the other two for a few reasons. One of them is armor and weapons (especially the material used for the weapons). One has to look no further than the illustration for the game, provided with the post. I suppose the sheer larger numbers of Maya in their heyday might have helped them succeed against Viking raiding parties, had that happened.

Here is page on Maya warfare

The other thing I am guessing at is which ones are better at having expanding empires of pillage and plunder and conquest. The Maya ended up only controlling a small area. The Inca might be much better empire-builders to stack against the Romans.

Rob said...

It depends on how the game is set up. If the Romans have all their war apparatus--armor, horse-drawn carriages, catapults, ships, etc.--I suspect they'll win. But if each faction has an equal number of men and hand-weapons (swords, axes, or spears), I think the battles will be a tossup.

Recall that the Indians on the Eastern Seaboard held their own against British and American troops for two centuries. Despite their guns, germs, and steel, the Euro-Americans won primarily because of their superior numbers.

Similarly, the Romans lost several battles to more "primitive" tribes or bands. Which proves that superior technology is only one ingredient in a victory.

For more on Roman defeats, see: