Complicated strategy games wouldn't strike many as an obvious fit for the casual mini-screen of a mobile phone.
There have been a few strategic successes over the past few months (Majesty and Starfront: Collision to name two), but the real-time strategy genre is still one that's rarely pulled off well on the touchscreen.
Yet despite a few missteps along the way, Settlers HD manages to fight its way through to score an almost resounding victory on its new home.Planning permission
You take control of a small group of settlers to start with, and scramble to exploit the land’s resources.
You start off by constructing woodcutter's and stonecutter’s huts to collect more building materials, but this eventually opens up into constructing a full-blown settlement, complete with wheat farms, bakeries, tool smiths, temples, castles, markets, gold mines, iron mines, and dozens of other necessary buildings.
The cartoony styling of the buildings and little settlers themselves gives the game a deceptively casual feel, and this high level of detail is carried through to the world itself.
It can be difficult to tell some structures apart, as they don’t have very obvious distinguishing features and there are so many of them to remember. In time, however, you learn which ones are important to manage and which can be left to their own devices.The village people
The settlers themselves act as the lifeblood of your village, building foundations and moving resources from place to place.
By building residences you can generate more of the little guys – making the task of running your settlement a lot easier.
That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, settlers waddle very slowly around the map.
Fortunately, there's a 'fast forward' icon at the top of the screen which speeds things up enormously, reducing the waiting time for constructions to mere seconds.
Unfortunately, this also speeds everything else up, meaning if you're under attack by the marauding AI opponents you likely won’t notice until the damage has been done.Be resourceful
The problem with Settlers HD lies in the resource-management, which is handled through a series of sliders denoting resource priority to certain buildings.
For example, your Weapon Mmith might need more iron bars than anywhere else at one point, so you can adjust the slider to give him priority and your settlers will bring more iron bars there than anywhere else.
This level of micro-management can be very confusing and the tutorial isn’t long enough to give a thorough understanding of the resource mechanics.
Furthermore, the touchscreen controls don’t quite have the accuracy or speed to truly emulate the traditional mouse and keyboard setup fans of the series on PC will have come to expect.
However, it's only these control issues and the unexpectedly complicated resource production that take the shine off the game.
It can take a couple of hours to get trained up in its finer details, and to get onto the juicy military missions (which are a much simpler matter of having more soldiers than the other guy), but once you're there Settlers HD can be a deep and thoroughly enjoyable game – if a little bit fiddly.