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Catan: Creator’s Edition

August 20th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

The original “Settlers of Catan” has been around for over ten years and is probably one of the most popular board games ever to set foot outside of Europe.  Like “Monopoly”, many different versions of “Catan” have surfaced over the course of time…”Star Trek: Catan” being among my personal favorites.  We’re here today to take a look at the video game adaptation released in August of 2013 titled, “Catan: Creator’s Edition”.  Before we get started, I’d like to thank Michaela Schultheis from United Soft Media for providing me with a review copy.

Catan: Creator's Edition

Catan: Creator’s Edition (Windows, Mac)

The main menu allows the player to participate in the campaign, set up a preset or custom scenario, or play with others via the multiplayer hot-seat function.  Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer.  Normally I’d take issue with such an oversight, but it’s important to note that licensing plays a part in popular games like this.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that may prevent developers from allowing such a feature.  While I’m saddened by the lack of online multiplayer in this particular adaptation, I can partially understand why it was excluded.  Luckily, folks in this case can play online for free via the official website.  The options menu covers your basics, but screen resolution seems to be fixed when in fullscreen mode…to the point where weaker PCs may have trouble running the game in all its 3D glory.

For those of you who have never played “The Settlers of Catan” before, this game requires a little bit of explanation.  Essentially, each player takes on the role of a settler tasked with creating the largest colony.  Players will be able to build roads and cities to expand their empire, though resources are required in order to do so.  The board itself is made up of connecting hexagonal tiles, each with a specific number on them (ranging from 2 through 12).  When players roll on their turn, every player with a city bordering the tile(s) that match the die roll receives the resource that the tile produces.  Using these resources, players will attempt to keep growing until they’ve scored ten victory points.  No worries, a tutorial is available for those completely new to the “Catan” experience.

Are you an experienced “Settlers of Catan” vet?  You’ll be pleased to know that this adaptation includes both the “Seafarers” and “Cities & Knights” expansions, increasing the replayability tenfold.  I’ve always considered picking up these two board game expansions, but now I really don’t have to.  There’s also an editor that allows folks to design their own maps and scenarios, which they can then share with the online community.  Part of “Catan’s” charm is the ability to arrange the tiles the way players want before the game begins…I’m personally glad to see that feature included here.  Unfortunately, the editor didn’t even open on my PC and after some research, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in my troubles.  The devs have posted on the Steam forums that they are attempting to fix the issue, but I honestly feel that this major feature should have been play-tested extensively before the game’s release.  Finally, the game features stat tracking and achievements, for those of you who are obsessive about such things.

From a hardware standpoint, the game is gorgeous.  The map can be viewed in a fully rotatable three-dimensional environment, or you can simply opt for a more classic view.  Things can get a little cluttered in the 3D view, especially the longer the game progresses.  I found myself switching to the classic view every now and again so that I could look at the big picture.  The AI, on the other hand, is a mixed bag.  I think the AI is fairly competent at playing the game, though at times I think it’s a bit too competent.  I’ve had instances in my play sessions where the AI seemed to gang up on me despite the fact that other AI players were in the lead.  I got the distinct impression that the AI characters had met secretly prior to the game and made bets on how quickly they could get me to rage-quit the match.

Catan: Creator's Edition

I’ll say this, the visuals are definitely pretty.

I do think the game would benefit from an online multiplayer option but as mentioned above, the developers’ reasons for excluding it are partially understandable.  With that said, I don’t think the price of $16.99 (as of 8/20/13) is a fair one.  If the game had online multiplayer, I could see folks dropping that kind of money…though as it stands, the game (I feel) should be priced closer to five or ten bucks.  The video game adaptation of “Ticket to Ride” has online multiplayer and only costs ten US dollars…just something to consider.  The game either needs a price reduction to make it more competitive with other games of the same type (like “Ticket to Ride”), or features like online multiplayer and a working editor need added to make the current price point more attractive.

To sum things up, “Catan: Creator’s Edition” is a decent video game adaptation at its core that falls short in a few key areas.  Some of the game’s features like the editor weren’t (and still aren’t) working properly at launch…not to mention the crashes that a lot of folks are reporting on the Steam forums.  While the game does have its share of problems and bugs, it’s fairly enjoyable when it’s working the way it’s supposed to.  The AI may frustrate new players, though the local hot-seat feature is very inviting.  To that end, I could really only recommend this game at its current price to those who have friends in which they can play with locally or to those who don’t mind the single player only experience.  This is a real shame, as I really would have enjoyed a user-friendly board game port.  As it stands, the instability and lack of online support can’t be ignored when you look at the price tag from a consumer standpoint, whatever the reasons for it happen to be.

Final Verdict: 5/10

You can learn more about and purchase “Catan: Creator’s Edition” by visiting the following websites:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/239410/?snr=1_7_15__13

http://www.catan.com/game/catan-for-pc-mac-creators-edition

You can view video play sessions here:

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