Anno 1602: Creation of a New World (in the USA, Canada and Australia released as 1602 A.D.) is a game with both real time strategy and city building elements, developed by Austria-based Max Design company.
The game is set in the Early Modern period of history and is based around colony building and resource management on a series of small islands. It includes aspects of exploration, combat, diplomacy and trade. It is set in the same period as Sid Meier's Colonization, but involves more detailed colony management, with no "Old World" politics. Parts, like expansion and movement of resources, are similar to the early Settlers games. Anno 1602 is an economic, rather than combat, orientated strategy game. Players are rarely challenged in battle. The game design is noteworthy for its attempt to implement a 'progressive' artificial intelligence, meaning that the pace of the game changes in response to how quickly players act.
Anno 1602 aims to be a mix of simulation and strategy gaming, giving players the chance to create a realistic and lively world, modeling it to their liking. The ultimate goal of the game is to discover chains of islands, settle them, develop on them, and then trade with other players. Players can also trade with their own colonies, and various neutral CPU controlled players such as native tribesmen. Even though the game focuses heavily on an economic standpoint, on various occasions the player will be forced (or will bring it upon others) to defend their islands against possible enemies.
1602 AD is, at its core, a colony building and trading simulation. You start as an unnamed European nation in 1602 AD that is looking to expand their power into the New World. As the game starts, you'll need to quickly find a nearby island, colonize it, and start building up your economy. The US release of this game contains all 6 scenarios (in addition to the tutorial and training game) that were included in the original European release, as well as 9 new scenarios, along with a “free play role”.
Anno 1602 also features online and network play with up to 4 other players simultaneously. Because the network play is less sophisticated than that of modern games, lag and disconnections often occur. Despite this, Anno 1602 is still occasionally played by small groups of lan PC gamers, or by players over the internet. The game is also playable via null modem connection.
1602 AD is designed to be as nationalistically neutral as possible. After entering your character's name, you are asked to pick one of four different colored banners to represent your country. From here you can either choose to play out one of the game's many scenarios or engage in a free form game. This is a radically different approach to other games such as The Settlers, and Age of Empires; and is often criticized saying that such details being absent contributes to the game "lacking depth". Fans and developers have gone on the record as saying such a system was chosen to keep neutrality throughout the various players when it came to their economies (the driving force behind the game).
Unlike other games where technology plays a major role in one player defeating another, Anno 1602, instead makes technology upgrades more relevant in inner-colony affairs. Instead of buying upgrades to ships to perform better in huge naval battles, it is often the case that upgrades are made so that the ships can carry more cargo, and therefore make the colony more money. The majority of the buildings in the game also can / will need to be technologically upgraded throughout the game to please the colony's citizens, which produces more cash for the colony, from which the player can continue upgrading his nation, and expand to other islands.
In 1602 AD, you are required to reach a certain population level before you gain access to weapons factories. Once you have the factories, a large process of buildings are needed to produce weapons, and additional buildings to construct units. After the buildings are constructed, you still must pay a constant flow of money to keep each building running (another reason your colonies' economy is so important). This “line of production” though difficult, has been incorporated into newer games such as Stronghold.
1602 AD is about discovery. As your colony grows and spreads, you'll get access to more and more building types and your citizens will construct bigger and more impressive housing for themselves. This cycle is one of the main driving forces to the game's lasting appeal, and many players have found themselves losing track of hours at a time just trying to grow their population to the point where they could build a new structure or unit.
1602 AD allows for the creation of user-made maps, using the Scenario Builder. This tool is simpler and easier to learn than comparable editors used in more modern games, but it has fewer capabilities as a result. This, along with instant "Random Maps" keep many players coming back to Anno 1602.
Not all versions of Anno 1602 AD shipped with a map editor, therefore several fan made editors were created.