Rise of Venice – PC Game Preview
If you’ve played the four games in the Patrician series, and / or the three games in the Port Royale series, then the on-the-horizon release of Rise of Venice will be instantly familiar, with game play that may seem as comfortable as a well-worn ship’s wheel. However, this historical naval shipping strategy simulator from Gaming Minds and Kalypso Media does have a few barnacles stuck to the hull (at least in the preview build I have)—more than what I expected after seven games in the genre.
RoV takes place in the Mediterranean locale during the 15th century, centered in and around the title city. You are Giacomo de Narni, given the duty by your grandfather to bring fame and fortune to the family name by creating a profitable shipping business. Starting with a single ship, and limited access to twenty-two goods to buy and sell between twenty-five cities, your task is to navigate through pirates, rival shipping businesses, family politics, world politics, natural disasters, and the economic ebb and flow of supply and demand to become the premier shipping magnate in the Mediterranean.
At its waterline, RoV looks and plays very much like Port Royale 3, with many of the pros and cons from that game washing overboard into this one. Graphically, RoV has had a lot of work put into it, evidenced by pleasant, flowy water and land animations, flocks of birds and cloud clusters floating across the sky, and believably detailed ships and cities. I did find the overall world map to be a bit drab, missing the vibrant colors of PR3. The interface has also been improved in RoV, with icons seemingly neater, crisper, and ideally placed in their sections on the right-hand side of the screen.
The main mast of gameplay seems to have remained the same from PR3 to RoV. Much of your time will be spent pulling into port, manipulating the buy-and-sell slider to transfer goods between your ships and the city, then sailing off to another port. I couldn’t notice any “for better or worse” changes to the economic engine here, but then again, dealing with numbers is not one of my strengths. As my time progressed in the preview build, I did seem to get more comfortable with them, however, at least as far as being able to turn a profit more often than not.
If you’re the type of player who handles numbers well, then much of the business routine may not cause you any drag. RoV does also have a bevy of charts and other info available to help track your shipping business. City population, the amount of goods produced per city each day, info on rival shippers’ ranks, reputation, number of ships and cargo space, and much more are included, and all within close clicking proximity.
One of the problems that arose for me was in dealing with the trading slider. For a game that is focused on working with exact numbers of cargo and cargo space to maximize profit, the trading slider is a very imprecise, and painful, tool for doing that. The vast majority of gameplay clicking happens with the trading slider—not only clicking, but clicking and holding in order to slide the transfer of goods when buying and selling. Since the slider doesn’t always count in exact numbers, your mouse finger will be clicking and holding a lot as you work to get the exact amount of goods bought or sold. After about an hour of play, my mouse finger had had enough and needed a rest. And it remembers that discomfort, which tends to deter me each time I think of logging in again. This was also the case with PR3, which diminished my enjoyment and shortened my total play experience with that game. If the trading action can’t be done in some better way, it may shorten my time with RoV, as well.
Naval combat also happens in RoV, but not so much that it steals the focus away from the shipping sim. You can assign escort ships, hire sailors, equip ships with cannon and a variety of ammunition, arm your sailors with swords and firearms, and either be prepared for a pirate attack or go hunting for them. You may also attack the ships of your rivals but not without consequences, of course. RoV combat has just enough flair to make and keep it interesting, but combat’s certainly not on the same level as the shipping sim, and not what I was most interested in.
No, what most interests me with RoV is the Railroad Tycoon flashback feeling I got. The Railroad Tycoon series is one of my favorites, and RoV returned that feeling to me, a feeling I never got with Port Royale 3, or with Patrician IV. Now if they would just make the trading action better to work with, I could easily see Rise of Venice sailing my way when its scheduled September 2013 release date launches.
About the Author
Jim H. Moreno dropped his first quarter into a video game back in 1977, and has been avidly gaming ever since. He joined the Armchair General squad in 2003 and helped launch the website and magazine, and remains a regular contributor of war, combat, and strategy articles. When he’s not working on an ACG piece, he’s writing other PC gaming articles for GameFront.com and for other sites and game companies, catching sci fi shows, enjoying a quality cigar or whiskey, or just being zen with his cat, Spritzer.