System Requirements

• OS: Windows® XP, Vista
• CPU: 1,6 GHz Intel® Pentium® processor or equivalent AMD® Athlon™ processor
• RAM: 1 GB (2 GB recommended for Windows® Vista™)
• Video: 128 MB DirectX® 9.0c compatible or better video card with pixelshader 2.0
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible sound card
• Available Hard Disk Space: Approx. 6 GB
• DirectX®: 9.0c
• Other: 3-button Mouse, Keyboard and Speakers.
• Internet connection for multiplayer.

Prepare to set sail from 1600-1750 as you compete and trade in East India. Historically these trading companies traded in Asia as well but the main focus of this game is India. Your main objective is to dominate the seas and if possible get a monopoly on all the trading goods and all twelve Indian ports. East India Company is primarily a strategy game but you can do RTS style ship to ship battles in 3D. There are also Arcade and Simulation style combat modes as well. You can battle the computer or people on a LAN or through the Internet. I haven\'t seen any matches available online as of this review.

The Grand Campaign goes from 1600-1750 and walks you through building your fist ship, assembling your first fleet and trading in India. There are primary and secondary goals that have to be completed to survive and thrive in this competitive industry. The primary goals are typically to have a certain number of Indian ports under your control and to import a certain number of tons of a commodity such as spice, tea, silk, ivory, porcelain, exotic furs, and others. The secondary goals require you to import other goods and/or sink/capture a certain number of enemy ships. The battle modes can be a bit slow paced; fortunately you can have the computer auto resolve it for you but your commander will not get the experience from it. When your commander gains a level you can give him a special ability such as a 5% trading discount or the ability to repair the flagship and so on.

If you don\'t want to play the Grand Campaign, you can play from certain time periods such as 1650-1700 in the Battle for Resources or from 1700-1750 for Struggle for Domination. In all these modes you can win by meeting the objectives, forcing all the other companies to resign, or by controlling and holding on to all the Indian ports. If you don\'t want to worry about the goals you can play a Free Campaign mode from 1600-1750.

There are three levels of difficulty (Easy, Normal, Hard). Here\'s the list of East Companies you can play as.

• Britain

• Netherlands

• France

• Denmark

• Sweden

• Spain

• Portugal

• Holy Roman Empire

Your primary source of income is importing and exporting goods. Diplomacy is a key factor of this game as well. If you\'re on good terms with a company, you can trade goods, ports, and cash using the negotiation interface. You can get a good idea whether or not they will accept your offer before you make it. One glitch I discovered is that sometimes I can negotiate some company to give me gold or goods when I don\'t offer anything in return. Politics plays a key role as you can initiate pacts, peace, war, or bribe other companies to make wars or break pacts with each other. If you have an alliance with another company you can use each other\'s ports. If you\'re not on good terms, you cannot dock or trade there. As your ships travel for several months at a time, they will need to dock every now and then; if they do not, they will move very slowly until they rest. Another thing to keep in mind is that when you put together a fleet, they will only go as fast as the slowest ship.

There are two classes of ships: merchant ships and warships. The merchant ships focus more on space and speed while the war ships have better armor and canons. The space on a warship is intended for carrying marines. With a lot of marines and firepower, taking over ports is a breeze. Fortunately you can see your chances for success before you try and capture it. Once you own a port, you can upgrade the buildings there to build bigger forts, garrisons, ship yards, warehouses, and trading posts. Some of the upgrades will require you to have iron stored in the warehouse before you can begin. All of the upgrades require a yearly maintenance fee. One lesson I learned the hard way is not to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to owning ports. Having too many ports and not enough income is a recipe for bankruptcy. Fortunately, giving up a port is easy to do. It\'s important to have a garrison and a fort to prevent other companies or the locals from taking the port away from you.

There is never a dull moment and this game will never play the same twice. There are lots of random events that work in your favour or against you. Some of these events will include your commander of a fleet to retire or die, a fleet may stumble upon a battered ship or some gold that they can take. Other situations may include disease outbreak that will require a docked fleet to be quarantined there for a couple of months and you may lose some of the hired hands. Sometimes you will be demanded to capture or upgrade a port or to pay the stock holders, or even achieve a certain diplomatic status with another company. Another trick that I learned is to save early and often and if I don\'t like one of these random events I will re-load my save and get a different one. Some things however cannot be prevented. For example if a pirate fleet is headed to raid your port, you can\'t stop it, but you may be able to upgrade it before they arrive. Yes, you can battle pirates and take over their ports. There are various achievements in this game and capturing all of the pirate ports is one of them.

Battles can sometimes be avoided but not all the time. You can set your fleets aggression level to avoiding fights, fighting back, attack enemies, or attack anyone. When you initiate the battle you can cancel out of it. If you\'re attacked, you have to enter into battle and you "may" be able to flee once the battle begins. I found the RTS battle mode to be the easiest. You can assign what ships you want to have attacked and you can change the ammo or have the computer choose for you. The various ammo is designed to damage various areas of the ship including the hull, sails or the crew. If you have a badly damaged ship you can have it surrender so it won\'t be attacked any more. If you win the battle, you\'ll get it back.

Graphically this game looks pretty good. The battles are in 3D and when you enter a port you\'ll have a 3D back drop with villagers walking around. When you win a battle or capture a port there is a little movie clip that you can watch or skip. The water effects look realistic and the moving flags on the map view adds a nice touch.

The sound effects get the job done. The background music is nice but the voice acting is the same no matter what fleet or nation you are playing as. I thought different accents for the companies would add a nice touch. Occasionally I would get sound clips overlapping if I multitasked too quickly.

I did experience a few stability problems with this game. I had some video driver not responding problems that often kicked me back to my desktop or locked up my computer. My system is over-clocked but I don\'t experience too many issues running other video card intensive games.

From an appropriateness perspective this game isn\'t perfect. There are some battle scenes in the video clips when sinking a ship or capturing a port. When ordering a ship to sail to its home port the commander may say something like "Good, I\'ll be glad to go home to my wife" on the other hand when you sail to some foreign ports he\'ll say something like "I know a nice girl there" or "I know lots of girls there". The commander may also mention that he wants to grab a pint when you dock. On a positive note, this game isn\'t historically accurate and you don\'t have to trade opium.

There is a lot of re-playability since there are many random events that will alter your game, not to mention the different levels of difficulty and the free play mode. The ship battle modes added a nice change of pace but they are not my favorite part of the game, so I really don\'t have an interest in playing multiplayer. The achievements are fun to get and there are probably many obsessive compulsive gamers that will want to get them all. If you like strategy or ship games you may want to check out East India Company.

Game Play: 17/20
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 6/10
Interface: 4/5
Stability: 2/5
Game Score: 37/50

Appropriateness: 44/50
-3 for sex outside of marriage
-3 for battle violence

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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