Anno, Create a New World (or: Dawn of Discovery) (Nintendo DS) - Review by Chris



From the initial unveiling of the DS, gamers have simultaneously stated that they think the real time strategy genre of games would be a perfect fit for the console given its interface. Yet, it's now several years into the lifespan of the handheld and we've only seen a select few titles from that genre appear, all of which have gained varying degrees of success. Ubisoft, however, have teamed up with Blue Byte to provide another attempt at the genre with Anno: Create a New World. And the result? Perhaps the best real time strategy title on the console yet.


Anno: Create a New World is set in 1404 where the land owned under the rule of King George is beginning to feel the pangs of drought and famine is setting in amongst the inhabitants as food is in short supply. In dire need of a solution to these issues, the King gathers his two sons, Edward and William, who both propose two drastically different ways on how to combat these issues. With the King favouring William's plans over those put forward by Edward, the King grants William permission to begin explore the territories and lands to the south of his kingdom in the hope that he'll be able to set up new colonies and bring in enough supplies to bring the land of King George back to fruition. This sets the story for the game's extensive single player story mode and through a series of chapters, you'll be tasked with exploring the southern lands, gathering resources and new technologies while also keeping a tight grip on the goings on in your own kingdom, making sure that inhabitants have access to the right resources and services to maintain life.

Your travels into the southern lands will require you to seek out refuge on many islands and once landed, you'll have to build up colonies from scratch, building houses as well as markets and other essential buildings to sustain life in these colonies. Yet, your travels are far from simple as rival kingdoms are always in the way and so your work as a colonist will have to be coupled with the cunning of a military tactician as you'll have to deploy troops to hold off invading forces or to rid a place of enemy forces so that you can colonise. The gameplay is exceptionally deep, as you'll have many aspects to manage over at one time and to begin with, the whole experience can be extremely daunting trying to understand everything that is going on. Luckily, a very well made tutorial will take you, literally, through everything which you'll need to know to succeed in the game. So long as you persevere with the tutorial, you'll easily be able to hold your own through the story mode. A good level of challenge is also put your way, with the game becoming more difficult as you progress and so as you near the end, the game really shows itself as a true real time strategy title meaning that you will struggle if you don't manage to keep on top of everything that is going on. Occasionally, you'll come across travellers on the open seas that'll come to your town so long as you met their specific criteria. These travellers will need to be recruited because they will help advance your city or help rid it of problems, such as rats.

This story mode will last you a considerable length of time but the only other mode available for play is that titled Continuous, whereby you can set up your own scenarios and take on a selection of other kingdoms in the hope of colonising all available landmass and defeating your opponent. It may therefore seem like there is little to do outside of the story mode but this mode provides plenty of opportunity for continual play for you to come back to time and again and it's a superb inclusion always giving you something different every time you delve into it.


The entirety of the game is controlled by way of the touch screen. You'll select and send units by tapping and sliding an on screen cursor to make them move and this carries over to the positioning of buildings and pathways. It's all very accessible as menu navigation is as simple as tapping one of the icons on the 8 pieced wheel that appears in game and tapping again to either confirm or decline the choice. It certainly goes a long way to showing that real time strategy games can make the leap over to the handheld and provide a control setup that rivals that of the mouse and keyboard controls for the vast selection of PC games in the genre. It's not without issue though. The game's camera is also tied to the touch screen and you'll need to slide the stylus about to move said camera but it creates issues when you're trying to place new buildings or trying to move units and would definitely have benefitted from having the d-pad or even the face buttons handle the camera movement. It is something that you'll adjust to but it never stops being irritating no matter how much you get used to it.


Even though everything many be small on the DS' screen, the attention to detail that the developer have paid to the graphics is superb. Your islands and their towns or cities are bustling with life, as people go about their everyday work, and it all looks great when you zoom in the camera and take it all in, but also looks great when the camera is zoomed out. Buildings are incredibly detailed, as is the scenery, with the only exception being the people who look like a mess of pixels but it's a small issue when you consider the size of everything on screen. The maps all have plenty of blue in the form of expansive seas to see and because of the way in which the game and its camera work, it can get tiresome having to stare at the same blue water for extensive periods of time. The 2d artwork that takes pride of place in the cutscenes and on the top screen during gameplay is well is done, showing an equal attention to detail and being very cleanly done.


The game's story mode provides some voiced cutscenes and it of an amicable disposition, sounding good. Music is definitely themed to fit the gameplay and it works well with what is happening but doesn't quite have the same gravitas that the music in other strategy titles have. It's good, it's just that you'll have heard better if you're a fan of the genre. Sound effects are your typical fare for this style of game, being rather downplayed for the most part but being more prevalent when something important is done.

Dual screen

Everything played out on the touch screen while the top screen is relegated to showing you information about your island, city or you ships depending on whether you have anything highlighted. There isn't any interaction between the two but with the touch screen being put to very good use for easily accessible gameplay and the top screen showing some very vital information, the screens are put to some good use.

Final comments

Anno: Create a New World is a fantastic game that shows why the DS is the perfect console for real time strategy titles when the effort is put in. Everything from the extensive single player story mode to the controls to the presentation screams high quality and it is by far one of the best games in the genre on the handheld. There are of course issues and some may indeed find it a bit too fiddle for gaming on the go but those willing to put up with the minimal issues and invest some real time will unearth a real gem of a title.

Pro: Lengthy single player campaign with a superb tutorial, controls work a treat, visuals are great
Con: Camera poses some issues, campaign can be difficult at times, not the ideal game for gaming on the go
Final score: 8.4


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Boxart of Anno, Create a New World (or: Dawn of Discovery) (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Simulation
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft