East India Company Review

Raising sails and heading to India.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 28th August 2009

East India Company

  • Developer: Nitro Games
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Release Date: 28th July 2009

The East India companies of the 17th century provided huge wealth for the European nations that founded them! Allowing them to attain power and influence as they battled it out for the valuable trade ports and resources. Now with thanks to Paradox and Nitro Games, you can now try to recreate one of these 17th Century powerhouses with their latest strategy offering, East India Company.

We previewed an early build of East India Company and were quite impressed with what the game offered, so were hoping this final version can build on a good first impression? East India Company features three main campaigns, Grand Campaign, Battle for Resources and Battle for Dominance. Each campaign sees you take control of your chosen East India Company at a different stage of its development and gives you a number of objectives to complete in order to achieve success. In addition to these main campaigns there’s also a free campaign that has no set objectives and simply allows you to build up an empire of your own styling. For me the Grand Campaign offers the best playing experience challenging you to take control of your company from the very beginning, building up your fleets and setting up your first trade routes in India and so on.

Like most management simulations East India Company has plenty to keep you occupied as you are charged with handling and ordering ships, buying and selling of goods and diplomacy between other nations. This may make the game sound a little overwhelming but the game allows you to easily manage everything you need to. Menus are clear and easy to navigate, whilst automatic trade routes can be setup between two ports with just a few clicks. Ports can also be conquered and upgraded to ensure you can buy and sell goods for the best price increasing your profit. However, despite having plenty of things to manage there are various parts of the game in which there’s very little to do, mainly when transporting goods between your home port and India. This inevitably slows the pace of the game, which in all honesty is pretty slow to begin with. There are of course various hazards to watch out for when sailing to and from India, pirates can often prove to be a thorn in your side whilst rival companies you’re on unfavourable terms with won’t hesitate to take a pot shot at you.

When you do have to engage in combat, East India Company switches from the regular game map to that of a 3D battle screen, similar to what you would find in the latest real-time strategy games. These battles are a welcome break from constantly waiting for ships to arrive in ports, and they look pretty good, despite this though they are far from perfect. Battles can be played like a real-time strategy game or you can take direct control of one of your ships. Controls however are fairly sluggish and it can take a while for commands to take affect and become evident, this often leads to repeatedly issuing the same commands leading to mistakes that cause severe damage to your fleet or even defeat. However, the biggest problem with the games battle system is that before attacking a rival fleet you have no idea how many or what ships make up that fleet, this can often lead to you being outnumbered or severely out gunned resulting in you losing valuable ships and cargo.

Away from the games campaign modes, the game offers very little. There is a battle mode that allows you to take part in the aforementioned ship warfare and a multiplayer mode that sees you compete against real players rather than A.I counterparts. Despite there only being limited options of play, the game does still offer fairly good value as the games campaigns are quite extensive.

Visually the East India Company reminds me of Sid Meier’s Civilisation games, with similar looking units, buildings and game map. The 3D battle mode features nicely detailed ships with clearly visible rigging and crew moving about the deck. However, this portion of the games graphics is often plagued by tears and waves moving right through the various vessels. The games audio design is pretty good with a fitting orchestral soundtrack and all the usual sound effects you would expect. Some of the games sound is over used though mostly the voiced acknowledgments when selecting your various fleets and issuing orders. Repeatedly hearing these phrases over and over really wears at your patience!

East India Company is a highly accessible management game, with easy to use menus! One of the games main selling points was the real-time 3D battles. However, this portion of the game hasn’t been implemented as well as it could have been but if you’re willing to overlook this slight pit fall. Then East India can provide an extensive and pretty good playing experience.

Review Score: 7/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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