| Townsmen 2

A thinly veiled 'homage' to PC classic The Settlers, Townsmen is less god-game than town-planner sim, challenging players with the role of developing a sleepy backwater into a thriving town generating astronomic wealth. Resource management is very much the key as you develop buildings to take advantage of natural resources e.g. a fishing shack nets trout from the lake, a woodsman's hut cam turn forests to logs, etc. Building sufficient stock of the basic materials in turn opens further building options as you can create lumberyards to turn logs to planks, smelting and eventually foundries to make tools and weapons, barracks to train knights.

There's a fair degree of subtlety in the technology tree, providing some interesting buildings such as the marketplace (trade excess goods for cash or buy in resources you need) and church (sort of a luck element as far as we can gather, prevents strikes and the like). Moreover this genuinely opens the option for different styles of play, do you head for mass producing pig farms and worry less about corn and fish, do you focus resources on churning out high price items like swords to sell at market to buy cash for cheaper resources or plan a more balanced strategy?

This sophistication is truly impressive for a game of such miniscule memory size especially when you add in the random events (fires, strikes, upgrades, etc) complicating the procedure and even the ability to interact with other villages in a raiding minigame (send out knights and try to capture resources whilst steering clear of angry villagers in a set time limit). There's even the ability to upgrade buildings to increase their effectiveness or possibilities (e.g. a level 2 woodsman produces more logs, a level 3 market can trade in more goods), whilst the cost of upgrades is high, it's worth the effort as land is at a premium and although terraforming (converting marsh or forest into building land) is possible it does take time and the gold costs are high.

Of course each of these needs balancing. Develop too fast or make rash building moves and the whole production line collapses as individual building's productivity goes down if the costs of upkeep (varies from building to building but usually a combination of food, gold and a raw material)) aren't catered for. Inevitably this often results in a domino effect as the next link in the production supply chain then also starts to slack off.

Thus the game evolves from an initial land rush into an economic balancing act with even the most experienced player finding himself having to react quickly, hastily throwing up new buildings and downgrade structures to generate much needed cash and resources.

All in all there's a fair few days of challenging gameplay on offer here from a 15-level in mission mode setting increasingly tough tasks as you set out to overthrow a tyrannical king plus the open-ended random game allowing you to set high scores for your development prowess.

Graphically it's competent, with your townies offer a nice line in simple characterisation which is enough to satisfy as you browse the map watching your various townsfolk do their chores. Likewise, the Menu control system works well enough, offering increasing amounts of detail as you click through, although it does takes a little longer than you'd want to get to certain menus and some more hotkeys would help.

It's not all good though. The message system is undoubtedly annoying, flashing up repeated messages which actually take you away from solving the problem in most cases. The interaction with other villages is limited to a raid (send out nights and try to capture resources whilst steering clear of angry villagers in a set time limit) and the potential to get irresolvably stuck in a production cycle (e.g. where a pig farmer needs meat to continue production) feels a little like bad planning. Ultimately though these are relatively small gripes and if god games or resource management floats your boat then this is an essential purchase.


Resource management fans will love settling down with this!
Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, bossman Chris is up for anything – including running Steel Media (the madman).