By Raymond "Mighty Pirate" Dumee

Hello dear friends of the Big Red Timemachine. I currently find myself in what seems to be the headquarters of something Big and Red. I'm not complete sure about how I got here though; it could have got something to do with last night. I met these strange fellows in a bar, who introduced themselves as Sadhonker and CallmeBackdraft, so I called him mister Backdraft, he didn't liked that, apparently I had to include the 'Callme' part. After a few lot of beers it started to make sense. They said something about time travelling and owning the bar? They didn't wanted to tell me their real names, they actually tried to convince me those were their real names. Mister Sadhonker told me they had something going on, something Big and Red. They couldn't reveal the location of this something, but I had this sneaking suspicion thought that these two so-called compandres have had some differences in the past.

Did they kidnap me to this Big and Red something? I see small lights blinking around me and I can hear the soft sound of computers buzzing. Various kinds of meters, dials and indicators I do not recognise are placed all around the room. My head feels like the New Zealand All Blacks are doing a Haka on top of it. Finally, when I am able to focus my eyes, I read a sign written with the most terrible handwriting. 'Do not operate' I think it says. Of course, dear readers, I cannot and will not heed this warning and I start to investigate this strange blinking and bussing dashboard until my eyes find a button.

...And yes, of course, I pushed the button!

All of a sudden I am behind a desktop personal computer. My head is very clear now and I realize that I've just operated the Big Red Timemachine. The machine tells me I am back in the year 1996 and I am just about to play The Settlers 2: Veni Vidi Vici.

The Settlers 2 was released in 1996 by the German developers of Blue Byte software for desktop computers. the main objective is building. Just simply building a settlement or a community without the added and completely unnecessary pressure of an opponent trying to exterminate you. The Settlers is one of those proper strategy games where all you'll have to worry about is the building of a well-oiled settlement, and a little bit total domination... The Settlers 2: Veni Vidi Vici is, in my humble opinion, the best game in the series. The good quality and funny graphics make this edition a classic, which I still often play. Nowadays, I usually play the Gold Edition and have used that for this review.

Settlers are the inhabitants of your settlement; they can do whatever you want them to do! As long as you provide them with a building and tools, most settlers carry your goods around your settlement for you.

The gameplay itself is pretty much self-explanatory. You start off with only your headquarters, which holds some merchandise that you will need to use to build your settlement. To build anything, you'll need materials like wood and stone. A stonemason cuts stone and a woodcutter cuts trees. The cut trees go to a sawmill and a forester plants new trees, it's as simple as that. All occupations work together like that. Your settlement needs mining for tools and armour and other craftsmen to produce food such as bread and meat. For each profession there is a particular building. In between all buildings roads connects the whole settlement together and little settlers transport everything you need for a thriving community across these roads. To arrange the distribution in a proper way, the system for the roads should be flawless. Because the bigger your settlement, the busier your roads will become.

To expand your settlement, you have to build military buildings like barracks, guardhouses, watchtowers or fortresses to expand your borders. The different military buildings house a number of soldiers and your soldiers have different ranks. With gold coins delivered to the military buildings, your soldiers can increase their ranks. To attack a building, you only can choose the number of attackers. When all the defending soldiers stationed in the enemy building are defeated, the attacking soldiers occupy the enemy military building and your borders expand with the size of the new territory. Then buildings close get destroyed and all the settlers flee in panic... which, to be completely honest, looks really funny!

The Campaign starts when the Roman captain Octavius has to abandon his ship after it has been hit by a storm and he gets stranded somewhere off of the coast of an unknown island. From this point on, rescue is unlikely and the good captain decides to settle on the island and try to find a way back to the big Roman Empire for him and his men. Every campaign starts with a short update about the journey back to the homeland and ends when captain Octavius and his crew find a portal. When they succeed in building a properly functioning settlement, the portal opens and you can play the next campaign. During their journey, your settlers will have to fight Nubians, Vikings and the Japanese, each of which have their own style of houses and other buildings.

Another mode you can play in The Settlers 2 is free mode or unlimited play in the Gold Edition. In this mode you can set up a game to match your own specifications. You can choose which tribe you are going to play as and even the game objective can be set! Whether you choose to conquer three-quarters of the world, total domination or no objective at all, it's your party! The rest of the settings are somewhat limited, but that's no problem. The choice in scenarios is okay, especially when you play the Gold Edition, which has a lot more options to choose from. Apart from this, there is still a big community online creating new maps for The Settlers 2!

In the Gold Edition, a third mode is added to the game: World Campaign. In this mode you set out to conquer, as the title might have given away somewhat, the world! It doesn't have a great storyline, but it is a nice addition to the original game and adds a lot more playtime. Also, if you look carefully, you will recognize the different parts of the world from all the tiny details incorporated in the campaign maps.

The most beautiful thing about The Settlers 2 is that they expanded and even remade the game for its 10th anniversary, but managed to keep the indirect control over the settlers, meaning you cannot control one specific settler. For example, you cannot control the route your goods travel by road, same as you cannot control which soldiers you send into battle. As the player of the game, you give an order and the artificial intelligent of the game decides the rest; which route your goods travel or which soldiers go into battle. This mechanic might make the game a little bit frustrating for some, but I think it is a really cool concept! Settlers 2: Veni, Vidi, Vici is a very cool game and I am absolutely stoked that I still own the original compact disc of one of my all-time favourite games!

One Big Red flash and I found my self back in present time.

And then I hear the voices of the two fellows I met last night behind me: "What are you doing here?!?"

What the FUCK, they are on to me... I have to get the hell out of here!!!

Blue Byte Software