For a build-up game that's in its 3.5th installment, I would have expected more.
The game concept is nice, but whoever was in charge of designing the game control mechanisms should be fired! Automatic trade is tedious to manage:
- an '(un)load everything BUT' option is still missing (as with earlier versions);
- trying to select a destination city with the mouse repeatedly results in the program switching it with another one, or simply nothing being selected at all;
- cities can only be added or deleted completely, not just the destination changed;
- and to top it all off, the game keeps arbitrarily changing certain settings of trade routes back to its own defaults, WHILE THE TRADE ROUTE IS BEING USED!
Specifically, this means that loading your ship from your storehouse in a city will occasionally get changed to buying from the city instead. Quite a big deal when you wonder why your funds aren't getting ahead for hours.
The counting house manager seems to sometimes just forget to do his job, as was the problem before with Patrician II.
Also, when quantities get really large, the default trading amount is increased - which is good for manual handling, but it sometimes seems to prevent the manager further from executing any orders, e.g. when lump trades change the average trading price and he consequently doesn't act at all. Although I'm not quite sure if these two might not just be same problem after all.
The overall game flow suffers from bad priorities for messages. Various events are lumped together as 'task accomplished', without specifying what it is exactly: a returned loan you gave, or a mission you took on.
To know for sure, you have to check the history list - where you then have to delete and confirm every single item of e.g. returned loans to keep the list clean.
Other times, your advisor/uncle - or worse, a competitor from one of the many cities - just pops up and delivers a spoken message while you were just trying to micro-manage some part of the game. You can usually just ignore the competitors, but as far as I can tell, the advisor-uncle only says everything once.
I probably forgot about 4-5 things that annoyed me like hell too.
As I was saying: The person(s) responsible for this mess should be fired.
Anyway, if all that doesn't bother you, the game is somewhat more charming than its predecessors.
Further on the plus side, the uncle's tutorial tips don't try to micro-manage your game. He only shows up at major milestones and you are free to act in between as you wish.
I will probably spend a bit more time with this game when I'm bored. But I'm not going to get addicted or look forward to playing on, like I could have.
A truly mediocre product with a great idea and name. :-(