The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom
|The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom|
European cover art
|Genre(s)||Real-time strategy, city-building|
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom is a real-time strategy and city-building video game developed by Blue Byte and published by Ubisoft. It was released on March 23, 2010 for Microsoft Windows and OS X. It is the seventh game in The Settlers series.
Paths to a Kingdom features gameplay similar to that of past 3D games of The Settlers series. The player may choose between playing a Campaign game, a Skirmish Game, a ranked game and a multiplayer game. The game gives the player an opportunity to choose between three unique paths of development for victory: Military, Science, and Trade. In the traditional Military development path, the player builds the kingdom's army in order to conquer and destroy enemies. Players can also conquer enemy territories without making an army, by using priests. In the Science development path, the player must focus on researching technological upgrades. Finally in the Trade development path, the player builds their economy and attempts to occupy the best trade routes on the map. Each path of development contains unique units and possibilities. In all development paths, the player wins by collecting Victory points throughout the course of the game.
The AI enemies have been greatly improved over those included in previous games, with more than twelve different AI profiles with unique behaviours. The game also includes an extensive new online multiplayer mode which allows players to both compete and co-operate with one another as well as gain tutelage in the form of a mentor request. Players can also generate and share content.
Although heavily marketed for its online gameplay, The Settlers 7 offers two major single-player modes. Whichever mode is chosen, the player generally begins with a simple village and expands it sector by sector to create a kingdom. During this process, the player must fine-tune their production chains and transport systems. The Campaign single-player mode also serves as the tutorial, gradually introducing new gameplay elements as the player progresses through the various stages of the story narrative.
The game is one of the first to introduce a new form of digital rights management for Ubisoft games known as the Online Services Platform. The service requires players to authenticate the game at launch and remain online while playing; if the network connection is lost, then the game will automatically pause. Shortly after release, reports of players experiencing issues connecting to Ubisoft's servers arose, particularly in Australia, which rendered the game unplayable. Reports of the problem seemed to spread worldwide, with a vast number of international players still unable to connect later.
The protection was quickly defeated by the cracking scene, meaning the DRM restrictions and the need to connect to the Internet only affected legitimate purchasers of the game. Cracked copies had no such requirement. The crackers were able to replicate the logic of Ubisoft servers and mirror it on the player's computer.
The Settlers 7 is the only Ubisoft PC game to keep the DRM system in place; all other DRM-implemented titles such as Assassin's Creed II, From Dust and Splinter Cell: Conviction have had their DRM protection officially removed via patches. The most recent patch still requires the player to be online to fully access all features of the game, such as Castle Forge. Ubisoft offline mode locks various options from the player both in Settlers 7 and other ones, like in case of Anno 2070 where profile details can't be edited and some ingame items won't work. Due to this, Ubisoft's claim that online requirements for full game access & experience in single-player mode are now lifted is proven false.
The title themes "Hero Within" and "Ever After" were produced, composed and performed by British/Latvian singer/songwriter Kariina Gretere, who is also known for her acclaimed music for ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal. The remainder of the music was produced by German company Dynamedion in style with the main theme.
Reception has been generally positive, with some reservations, particularly revolving around the difficulty of the game. IGN described an "Everest-like learning curve", rating it 6.0. GameSpot gave the game a rating of 7.5, praising its graphics and complex gameplay, and Eurogamer gave it 8.0, describing the gameplay as "fun and hugely tense".
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