Hello everyone and welcome to the future! The air is clean, the water is clear, global warming – or its new moniker “climate change” – has been stemmed off with initiatives to keep the arctic cold through advances in technology and careful regulation. Life is great! So get comfortable because you’ve now got a job to do. Being put in charge of the next company to be granted the rights to build an Orbital Elevator, it’s up to you to build your company without compromising the environment, your worker’s health, or their prosperity, all while returning profits and avoiding bad words like ‘deficit’ and ‘bankruptcy’. Welcome to the year 2205, the world awaits your decisions.
Anno 2205 is the latest entry into Ubisoft’s RTS/Simulation series that task players with building up cities and empires by carefully managing the social and economic needs of the citizens. Tasked with acquiring resources to build a link between the earth and the moon, players will start off by answering a few questions in regards to their company that will set up their experience. Each difficulty setting can change the experience in more ways than one. Being given less resources is one thing, but what can really make things all more challenging are modifications to production percentages as well as stricter buyouts and a lack of bankruptcy protection.
While everything works in real time, it’s a very methodical kind of pacing, so that people that typically stick to turn-based games will not stress in trying to keep up. As in real life, the key resource in building up the civilisation is its people, but people are also a challenge, as they have needs that have to be met. While the question “are there enough people to properly run all of the facilities” Anno aggressively pushes a second question as much more important; “are there enough resources for them to live happily?”
The balance of people versus establishments quickly becomes a textbook case of balancing on a knife edge, as just slightly stepping outside of a happy balance between stuff that makes people happy, and stuff that makes them productive, can cause social troubles, profits to plummet and put your company in a worse place than where it started off. People, robots, delivery trucks, food, ceramics, and much more all come into play on multiple levels and even use one another in order to get things done. Keeping such a close eye on these is so important because sometimes in order to move forward with a project, something else may have to suffer, so being in a position to take small hits in order to make progress is the key strategic objective through much of the game.
While things start off all nice and clean in a beautiful equatorial region, moving up to the arctic as the next phase of your corporate venture is really where the game really starts to strike home. Up here in the cold people need heat, but for heat generation you need people. These kind of situations are just one of the problems that need to be taken care of while still making sure that everything down south is still progressing smoothly. Managing both is another strategic challenge.
The future looks gorgeous with its clean environments and its wonderful advances in technology but that doesn’t mean that everyone is happy about it. Warfare does play a part regardless of whether it is wanted or not. Battleships, submarines, air strikes all come into play, alongside with nanotech and shielding technologies in order to defeat those that would bring harm to your enterprise. Tactical planning is important in the beginning as your meager forces tend to be rather outnumbered by quite a margin. Developing turrets on the land, mines in the sea, and using the terrain of the coastal waters to your advantage is going to be extremely important in order to survive.
What doesn’t quite jive in terms of combat in this clean and futuristic world is actually the use of nuclear missiles, given the strong environmental message that it otherwise encourages. I would have thought there would be far greater consequences for deploying these than there is. Regardless of this case, combat, which has never been a strength in the Anno series, is better here than it has been in the series in the past.
Anno 2205 is a stellar city-building experience that rewards and demands precision in planning. It makes the compromises that real city management requires central to its mechanics, and the strong environmental theme helps to make it contextually relevant today.