DS

North America

Dawn of Discovery

by Lukasz Balicki - July 31, 2009, 8:08 pm PDT
Total comments: 4

9

Here is a textbook example of how to create a real-time strategy game on DS.

Dawn of Discovery is the latest game in the popular Anno series. These games have traditionally put an emphasis on colonization and civilization development. The developers have flawlessly translated a real-time strategy experience to the DS. Dawn of Discovery provides one of the deepest experiences on the platform.

There are two modes in the game, Story and Continuous. In Story mode, the game tells the story of King George's two sons, William and Edward, who are asked to acquire new lands to produce goods that will satisfy the demands of King George's empire as well as find new technologies to fix the drought plaguing the land. You play as William, while Edward, whose ideals of civilization are quite different, ends up being a rival.

The seven chapters of the main story mode teach you all the game mechanics and specific functions of each building. During the story, William encounters a civilization from the Orient and tries to establish a friendly relationship with them, while Edward has his doubts and remains hostile with the new civilization. To complete a chapter, you have to complete specific objectives such as paying tribute, advancing to a specific level, building specific buildings, or meeting a specific population requirement.

The other mode is Continuous Play, wherein players are allowed to challenge computer opponents in a randomly-generated map. You can choose to play up to two opponents and adjust settings of the map. The goal in this mode is to conquer all of your enemies' islands with military force. Regrettably, there is no multiplayer feature.

Due to the game's emphasis on civilization development and resource management, it's not farfetched to compare Dawn of Discovery to a game like Sim City. While most real-time strategy games require you to train villagers and assign them to collect a specific resource, in Dawn of Discovery, players raise a building that harvests or creates a specific resource. The process is automatic once you connect that building to a nearby warehouse with roads.

The most important resource in the game is coins, which are earned by taxing your citizens. You can adjust how much you tax your citizens; however, if you overcharge them, you will see a decline in population. If you don't charge enough, your empire will start losing gold, which eventually will mean that you won't be able to afford to keep your empire functional. There are five classes of civilization; your citizens will evolve to the next class automatically as long as you meet the requirements and keep those resources well-stocked. The big incentive to upgrade your citizens' class is that they will pay more taxes, at the cost of forcing you to manage more resources cumulatively.

The production values are outstanding for a DS game. Dawn of Discovery features an appealing cartoon-like art style. The story is told with beautifully drawn static screens, and they are accompanied by great voiceovers with proper English and Middle Eastern accents.

The weakest aspect of the game is the combat; it feels like an afterthought compared to the rest of the game. To command any soldier or a group of solders, first you have to switch into combat mode and then assign soldiers to travel to a building, invade enemy islands via a battleship, or defend an island from an enemy invasion. When in a building or battleship, soldiers are represented by dots. When you assign soldiers to travel to another building or battleship, the soldiers are represented by a blip with a number of how many soldiers are traveling. If any other thing requires your attention, such as the economy, you must exit out of combat mode. It feels a little counter-intuitive, especially if you need to worry about dealing with multiple things at once.

Despite a few minor flaws, Dawn of Discovery is a very impressive package, and overall, it provides a full-fledged real-time strategy game on the DS without cutting corners.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7.5 7 9.5 9 8 9
Graphics
7.5

The art style of the game is very appealing. When zoomed in, the characters and buildings have a decent level of detail for a DS game. When zoomed out, the level of detail is diminished; however, you have a wider view of the general area.

Sound
7

The soundtrack, while forgetful, is very pleasant and fits the game well. The voiceovers in the cut-scenes sound great and supplement the storytelling well.

Control
9.5

The touch screen interface is fantastic; there are no control hiccups, and everything feels as it should. The face and shoulder buttons are command shortcuts.

Gameplay
9

The fantastic gameplay simply draws you in. The game provides a level of gameplay that you would find in a PC real-time strategy game.

Lastability
8

Story mode takes a few hours to complete. The addictive nature of the game will make you come back with Continuous Play, which allows you to play in a randomly generated world against computer opponents.

Final
9

Dawn of Discovery is a fantastic game that provides one of the deepest real-time strategy experiences on the DS, without making any compromises.

Summary

Pros
  • Deep and rewarding gameplay
  • Fantastic control interface
  • Great production value and voiceovers
Cons
  • Combat feels like an afterthought
  • Too much to micromanage at times
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

StratosAugust 01, 2009

A surprisingly nice score. I want's to get this at some point before year's end. Glad to see it turned out well.

KDR_11kAugust 01, 2009

Supposedly the Wii version is better.

shammackAugust 01, 2009

Shame about the box art...

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusAugust 01, 2009

Quote from: KDR_11k

Supposedly the Wii version is better.

From what I understand the differences between the Wii and DS versions are very minute. Another staff member is reviewing the Wii version so once that version's review is up feel free to compare.

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Dawn of Discovery Box Art

Genre Strategy
Developer

Worldwide Releases

na: Dawn of Discovery
Release Jun 23, 2009
PublisherUbisoft
RatingEveryone

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