It should surprise absolute zero people by now that I look forward to games like Rise of Venice. Heck, on this site alone I’ve reviewed games from the Patrician and Port Royale series, to say nothing of my adolescent years engrossed in Lavamind’s goofy-yet-addictive Gazillionaire. What can I say? The thought of being incredibly wealthy through mastery of basic economics – buy low, sell high – is very, very appealing. Thankfully, so is what I saw from an early beta build of Gaming Minds’ Rise of Venice.
For starters, the trading interface has been streamlined and cleaned up very nicely, leaving you more screen real estate for graphs, charts or just zooming in and looking at the cities dotted around the Mediterranean Sea. Yes, you can now zoom right in to the cities from the overmap – a huge improvement in speeding the game along. No longer do you have to wait for each individual city to load; now you can do all your business by selecting the appropriate building right from the close-up zoom level. That close-up zoom level also lets you take in the fact that Rise of Venice actually looks pretty darned good; and not just spiffy-for-a-trading-sim good – I mean actually, honestly, good-looking without even causing your processor or graphics card to break a sweat.
Of course, pretty pictures won’t count for squat in a trading sim if there isn’t a compelling game to go with it. Thankfully, Rise of Venice’s take on the standard buy-sail-sell routine is intriguing. For starters, you’ll need a license to trade anywhere outside the friendly confines of Venice. Said licenses might be fairly simple to purchase if you’re in a friendly city or outrageously expensive in a hostile city. Nothing like a little mid-1400s extortion to effectively shut you out of some lucrative trading avenues, right?
Additionally, in order to advance a rank, you not only have to hit a series of goals such as personal wealth or ship capacity, you have to earn the favour of a council in order to get enough “yea” votes to proceed. Missions are now given to you by politicians of the day, offering votes in favour of supplying specific resources to a certain city, for example. It’s all very much in keeping with the theme of the series and looks to be a touch more compelling than the somewhat stale Hanseatic League of the Patrician series.
There were some graphical bugs and hiccups but, again, this was just an early beta build. With the final product not due until October, there’s still plenty of time to polish up the trading fleet before the open trade waters beckon.