The Settlers DS

Date: 2008-11-02 11:52:02 Created: null

For Nintendo DS

Me, about to return The Settlers DS for a refund.

As you might know, this game has some fierce crash bugs which make it impossible to play through properly. I consider this something UbiSoft should fix and am, ever so patiently, working on getting answers out of their support. The full, and ongoing, story on that is now on a page of its own.

I have been carefully optimistic about this game ever since I first heard it was coming a year or so ago. Even so, there are plenty of things to be done wrong when porting games to the DS, so I decided to wait until I'd read a few reviews before deciding about getting it.

But, for some strange reason, reviews have been totally absent on the Interwebs. It occurs to me now that I haven't looked for any in German, but you'd still think someone would write something up in English or Swedish once it's been available for a couple of weeks. Not so, and thus I decided to bite the bullet, break new ground, step into the unknown et cetera when I ran across the game in a store yesterday. This page will evolve into some kind of review as time goes by.

Reviews coming in

Today I, finally, managed to find two reviews in English online, as linked on the right. Both feel fair and well grounded in my opinion, the difference in score mainly explained by the fact that one ran into the game freezing bugs and the other didn't. I don't know yet which I'll side more with, but if I can't play the dreaded chapter six properly I'll try and get some kind of reply out of Ubi Soft and/or Blue Byte. And if I can't get something out of them, I won't be a happy customer.

Off we go

For all I remember, it looks and plays exactly like Settlers II. No manual reading needed if you've played it before.

It crashed on me once during the first evening! After an hour of save-less playing, when I clicked the zoom out button. Other people have experienced this too, so I've simply stayed away from zooming since it happened. The feature didn't do much for me in any case.

There's no multiplayer, only free play against up to four computer controlled tribes. This wasn't anything I longed for or expected in any case, and Settlers' pace isn't for quick matches.

Music sounds surprisingly bad, sound effects a bit less so. There's lots of hiss to the music. What did they do, compress it brutally? Couldn't they have dropped that introduction movie instead if they were low on space? Perhaps it's simply music and sound straight from the original version, and in the same quality ... Myself I wouldn't have minded a high-quality version of the music from the very first Settlers to accompany my settling.

The Settlers makes pretty good use of the DS. The control scheme relies on the cross for scrolling, the left shoulder button for flipping screen contents and the stylus for everything else. The remaining buttons are shortcuts for common options. Feels like they could have done even more though - like being able to see the world on both screens at once and open and move information windows around even more freely. All information windows are movable and can be collapsed to just a bar. But where's the use in that when you can only have one window open on each screen in any case? Also, it would have been nice sometimes to be able to do everything using the stylus.

Only one save position, and it saves slowly. Loading isn't too fast either. I haven't read the manual yet, but there are two campaigns plus freeplay. Hope there's one save for each of them.

Switching zoom level re-sets the map view to your headquarters. Why? If game freezes didn't stop me from using the zoom, this "feature" might.

Clicking the button to jump to the location of a message doesn't always jump to the right location. Odd.

Looming threats

One of the few English opinions I found about the game was a player review on Gamespot. It stated that the game started crashing a whole lot by the sixth chapter of the campaign. I'm about to start on the fourth chapter and have not had any problems yet (apart from the zoom thing), knock on wood. I'm hoping he might have been using the zoom or something equally unlucky, but until I get there I'll remain worried about it.