The Settlers in Review – Veni, Vidi, Vici on your iPhone!

The Settlers II on the PC was, probably, one the best games I’ve ever played. No wonder they recently released The Settlers II 10th Anniversary. I got acquainted with the series with the first installment back in 1993. Back then it was also known as Serf City and it came in a CD loaded with literally thousands of shareware games. With plenty of expectations, can this famed RTS live up to the hype?

Well, the first downer for me was that The Settlers for the iPhone is actually based more on the 3rd and 4th parts of the original PC series, rather than the first two. They were substantially different in that the later games added more focus on the combat part of the gameplay. But on further thought I decided that taking into account the users of the iDevice platform, it was probably a good bet, since it did simplify the economic model a bit. Okay, enough with the offtopic, let’s get right on it.

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The Settlers is a real-time strategy game with a little bit more focus on economics than the other games in the genre. Ok, a LOT more focus. You control everything, from the production of various types of tools (one by one!) to the areas where your woodcutter destroys the forest to the miners that have to be fed in order for them to keep on working. And nothing is easy to produce here. For example, to produce a sword for your soldier, you have to have iron and coal; iron has to be smelted out of iron ore, both iron ore and coal have to mined out of the ground, and for this the miners have to be fed. Oh, and yes, the hills for the mines have to be scouted out by geologists first. As for producing food for your people, the process is just as lengthy and involved. It’s the attention to the little details that make it soooo addictive!

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The developers have done an astounding job of transferring the game mechanics to the iPhone. It’s enough to say that there are 3 races, over 40 different building types (some of which are race-specific), a couple dozen or so of settler professions, 10 different combat units, loads of resource types, priests and spells and more. Add to this the gorgeous graphics and music! And what’s most amazing – the performance on my 3G is flawless! Yes, simply flawless!

The Settlers contain four campaigns for different races with 24 missions in total. The first campaign is a big tutorial, introducing to you step by step the mechanics of Settlers, the production chains, the combat system and the magic.

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The interface of the game is very good, though for some reason, the devs decided to skip the generally accepted pinch-in/pinch-out gesture for zoom, replacing it with a zoom bar on the right. The two-finger gesture is instead used to draw a selection box. You can switch the minimap on and off, as well hide the status bar if you want. All in all, this is one of the most polished and responsive interfaces I’ve ever seen on the iDevice and Gameloft have really set the standard for RTS games with it.

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If you have read to this point and haven’t yet bought the game – what the hell are you waiting for? The Settlers is a model for all strategy games to follow on the iPhone – the way this genre should really be experienced (both in visuals and gameplay) by mobile gamers. The developers have not been afraid to take the complete mechanics of a legendary game to the iDevice and it worked out great. Beats me how they managed it, but despite the amazing graphics, the game runs ultra-smooth even without the need of resetting my older iPhone 3G. Without a doubt, Gameloft’s The Settlers is an absolute must buy for any fans of strategy games.

With this I declare The Settlers officially touched!

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App Summary
Title:The Settlers (v.1.1.1)Developer:Published by Gameloft, Developed by Blue Byte
Price:$6.99App Size:227 MB
  • Astounding graphics
  • Deep multilayer economic model
  • Priests and spells – yeah!
  • Flawless performance
  • None whatsoever

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