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Patrician III PC CD-ROM Official Website

Published by ASCARON Entertainment
Developed by ASCARON Entertainment
Released: Out Now
Price: £29.99

The strategy game genre is filled with many sub-genres. One of these sub-genres is trading simulations. These are, in basic terms, games where the trading of goods is of primary importance to the progression of the game. For those that have not experienced games such as this, it may seem like it would be a boring experience. However if you've played the best examples of these games it can be more addictive than anything else out there. Patrician III is, primarily a trading simulation and a nautical one at that. Trading is not the be all and end all of the game but it is central to the gameplay.

What needs to be addressed before I go any further is whether this is a true sequel or not. If you've played Patrician II (click here for our review) then a quick look at the screenshots will make you think that nothing has changed. Towards the end of our review for Patrician II (which believe it or not was written 2 years ago) we said that an expansion pack had already been released in Germany. This expansion pack included some major improvements to what was already an excellent game. Patrician III isn't really a sequel in the true sense of the term. It is more a Patrician II gold edition as it combines Patrician II with the expansion pack (which never did get a release outside of Germany as far as I know). Now if you've paid out for Patrician II you might think it isn't worth paying for Patrician III. Normally I would say that you would be right in thinking this but in all honesty the game might look very similar but the extra features and changes to so many elements of the game make it feel much better than Patrician II. For a basic idea of what the game entails read our Patrician II review. This review will deal solely with some of the improvements as there are quite a lot.

Patrician II only had 2 campaigns, 'The Advancement' and 'The Flying Trader'. Patrician III also includes the 'Rise of the Hanseatic League' campaign in which you have to restore the Hanseatic League to it's former glory. There are also four missions. 'Reorganisation' sees you returning from being away in the Mediterranean only to find that your business has been foolishly run whilst you've been away. You have only 3 months to amass 3 million gold. 'Poor Harvest' sees you attempting to feed people during a famine. You must not let the population of the Hanseatic League be reduced by more than 4,000 people. 'The Fire' places you a week before a great fire that will wipe out most of your town. You get six months to restore the town to what it was before the fire. 'The Black Death' is a mission where you have to deal with the consequences of a terrible epidemic. You are a merchant in Gdansk and you have to supply Cologne, Hamburg, Bremen, Luebeck, Rostock and Gdansk during the epidemic. You have 4 months to help restore the Hanseatic League population figures to what they were before the epidemic. There is certainly enough gameplay here. You can alter the conditions for each of these missions and campaigns and make them more difficult if you want to. Ascaron have also added Internet play too (games can be saved and chat is via text so no problems for deaf gamers), so you're no longer confined to hotseat or LAN play if you want human opponents.

The most noticeable difference with Patrician III has to be the graphics. Basically the game looks the same but in certain areas it has been improved. The sea map now supports more visual effects to depict the motion of the sea and weather variations. The town map now depicts the change of the seasons and you'll find the towns covered in snow and ice during the winter. New animations can be seen for certain industries and new video scenes have also been added for different events such as elections. A map editor has also been included and it's now possible to create a map that has 40 towns.

Loyal fans of the series will be interested to learn that land trade is now possible but in order for this to be so, you'll have to have setup trading offices in each of the towns for a trade route to be possible. The exception to this is the historic Hamburg to Luebeck land route which is already there at the beginning of the game. You'll want to protect your land bound traders though and it's always wise to hire the best guards you can afford to keep off the threat of robbery on the journey. The importance of the Tavern is now even greater as you are able to collect missions, buy goods at better prices than usual and get involved in rather more seedy activities and hope that you don't get caught, which there is always a risk of.

The auto-trade option has now been improved and you can load and save routes to make things much easier. You can also edit them easily as well as simply replacing one town for another without any fuss. Your captain is also more capable in Patrician III and can have the ship repaired once it's below a certain condition and he will also give the crew some leave to prevent their mood from becoming mutinous. Piracy is also more dangerous (if seen) and rewarding (if you're not seen) as you can now clean a town out of virtually all it's goods.

There are so many extra tweaks and additions that it's just impossible to mention them all here without the review looking like a huge inventory list. The bottom line is that if you enjoyed Patrician II then you'll love Patrician III. The new features don't make a new game but they do enable the game to have even more depth and many of the existing gameplay elements have been refined so as to make for a better experience. If you didn't like Patrician II then there is nothing here that will change your mind as all the improvements build upon what was already in Patrician II. Is it worth £30? Well I played Patrician II quite a lot and I've thoroughly enjoyed the week I've had with Patrician III and definitely wouldn't go back to Patrician II now. It may not be a sequel in the true sense but as an overall package, it's a classic title.

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10
Don't be fooled by the familiar looking screenshots. There is more than enough here to satisfy fans of Patrician II and fans of challenging trading simulations/strategy games in general.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The introductory cutscene isn't subtitled but otherwise Patrician III is fine for deaf gamers.