The Anno Series of city building and economic simulation has been around a long time, starting in 1998 with Anno 1602. Anno 2070 is the series first venture into the far future. The game is usually more comfortable with settlers and pirates of the New World, Medieval merchants and Renaissance aristocrats, rather than renewable energies… In the year 2070, sea level rise due to climate change has flooded much of our planet. Humankind survives on islands (that once were presumably mountains). A pretty bleak scenario, a mere two generations down the road for us! Anno 2070 beats hands down the worst possible estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Fortunately, as in any good utopia, humankind will be able to rely on state of the art technologies, in particular ocean faring mobile bases know as “arks” (city centres in sim building and real time strategy parlance). Three factions with stereotypically obvious beliefs vie for power: Ecos (the greens), Tycoons (Wall Street) and Techs (the nerds).
Playability: Combine Elements A & B, plus exactly two dashes of W, to obtain Delta.
Anno 2020’s gameplay feels scripted and contrived. The rules of the game are arbitrary and as omnipresent as a nagging wife (or husband). Here’s your expected output, here’s your list of activities. Never mind the overall objective, just do it says the AI. The single player campaign feels like a draft workplan compiled on a string of unrelated and incoherent activities: extract, build, negotiate, trade, research and occasionally destroy. For confused and slow witted old video gamers, the tutorials are obtuse. You need a printed Anno 2020 desk reference manual to push through the grind of this less than affable city building campaign.
Annoyance: Under Command without Conquer
Even if you’re the boss, sometimes you feel underwater (how appropriate in this day and age of sea level rise). There is a strange lack of freedom in the world of the future, in the tomorrow of Anno 2070. You’re supposedly in charge, but you’re under command and you lack a big picture to conquer. Micromanage you will, micromanage you must! A bit of humour, a tad of sarcasm would have been welcome. No, this is heavy reality simulation!
Beauty: Architecture of tomorrow
When you build a city and you see it painstakingly rise, that’s where the beauty of Anno 2020 lies. The sun rises on a dystopian world of floating arks and other architectural marvels. Mountain streams, waterfalls, lush forests, underwater hot springs are all minutely rendered. But despite the expected +4 Celsius degrees rise in global temperatures, Anno 2070 is a cold world, a beautiful world without character.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Great for micromanagers 5/10
Anno 2070 is less relaxing than managing a struggling small-medium enterprise of the Mittelstand. Despite polished graphics and (too) close attention to details, the next chapter in humanity’s history is somewhat bland and uninspiring. Anno 2070 does keep a gamer busy with a bevy of buildings, vehicles and resources. Let’s hope that humanity will be better at dealing with climate change in real life than Anno 2070 does.