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Review: Catan

Posted by on November 5th, 2010 | 0 Comments | Tags: , , ,

Developer: Game Republic
Publisher: Game Republic
Release Date: June 15th 2010
Availability:
Price: $6.99 |£3.99 | €4.99 | ¥600 | HK$ 99.00
Demo: No
Players: 1-4 (Online)
Rating: Everyone

What I liked:
Clean graphics (most of the time)
Fitting music
Solid Interface

What I disliked:
Unintuitive control scheme
Intensely frustrating if you’ve never played Catan before
Broken netcode (most of the time)
Awful tutorials

A surprise release on the UK PSN Store, Catan has been out in the Asian territories for a while now. After playing it, I kind of wish that it had stayed there. With it’s low price, and attractive feature set, Catan seemed like a sure bet for fans of board games. I’ve never had the opportunity to play Catan before, so I was more than eager to give the game a try. However, what I ended up being faced with was a game that is far too faithful to the board game it is based on, with a rather Spartan set of ideals regarding the rest of the package.

Having never played Catan, my experience with it started with the tutorial. I spent an hour here, and finished the entire thing. One I had finished it, I realised I still had absolutely no idea how to play the game, so I went on the official Catan web site, which proved slightly more useful in actually explaining the principles of the game to me, far more so than the actual tutorial ended up being.

Once I’d finished figuring out how to play the game, I hopped right in to a single player match. The game features a large amount of customisation options, and allows you to change a number of details about how the game will play out. Having set the AI difficulty to easy, as that is what the game recommended for first time players such as myself, I wandered in to my first game. It was then that the key problems with Catan reared their ugly head. Firstly, the controls are pretty unintuitive. Good luck placing pieces of walls if they aren’t diagonal, as the game makes it almost impossible to place said pieces in any direction other than diagonal. Its frustrating beyond belief, and makes me wonder why they didn’t notice it.

The game also includes an online mode, with support for up to 4 players to enjoy torturing themselves together. However, I was not able to enjoy this mode, as the netcode kicked me out of any game I joined, which got extremely annoying after my 5th try. However, I was eventually able to get a game, which ended in me losing, but at least I was able to get into a working game, which is no mean feat.

The bottom line is that Catan is a terrible version of what sounds like a fantastic board game. The premise held so much promise, but the game deflates itself at every possible opportunity, with bad controls proving to be the real undoing of the experience. The game paints a pretty picture, but the canvas is all wrong. I can’t even recommend this to fans of Catan, though I’m sure that they’d much rather play the actual board game with their friends sitting next to them. Or at least playing with them online, though I can’t guarantee that you’ll have a fun experience that way either

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