|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nitro Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Paradox Int.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 28, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Poor trade decisions, debilitating random attacks, and failure to expand rapidly enough are among a number of other minor factors that can eventually send your trade business into a downward spiral that's hard to recover from. Adding insult to injury, failure to meet the increasingly steep primary and secondary goals at any step of the way instantly ends the campaign. There's a lot to juggle and constantly take into consideration to keep from sinking, and it's not always much fun.
When you do find yourself in a position to be strong enough to push other rivals around, combat becomes an enticing prospect - in theory. Running into foes (and vice versa) brings up a handy pre-battle menu that shows the strength of both armies and the probability of success, but East India Company's ship-to-ship warfare component is a double-edged sword. You can opt to quickly auto-resolve battles at the expense of the option to loot enemy cargo when you're done, or taking a more hands-on approach to combat lets you manually control ships in gruelingly slow but pretty 3D encounters. Choosing the latter affords a beautiful close-up view of the carnage wrought between warring fleets, which contrasts sharply with the plain Jane-looking navigation map you'll spend the bulk of your time on. In battle, you can control ships in a point-and-click real-time strategy mode or take direct command of a single vessel with the directional keys. Here, the special abilities of your ship captains can be put to good use, and you can also board ships to loot and plunder.
East India Company's marriage of naval combat and deep economic trade simulation is a sound one, but it doesn't take long for the honeymoon phase to wind down and the niggling little character flaws to come bubbling to the surface. Even the game's most tedious moments will offer a good measure of entertainment for strategy gaming fans, though a number of issues may eventually have you questioning whether it's worth sticking with in the long run.
CCC Staff Contributor