Oh, nostalgia. It’s odd how much of an impression the games we played in our youth make on us. I could absolutely make a list of 10 or 20 games I loved when I was a teenager or in my early 20s, and the Settlers series would be right up near the top. When I had the chance to pick up the Settlers 2: 10th Anniversary Edition on GoG.com, I didn’t hesitate. Of course, I didn’t play it right away either, it was enough knowing that I could play it anytime I wanted to.
Bear in mind, this is now a 10 year old update of a 20 year old game, and the rose tint of nostalgia goggles is pretty strong. However, despite offering the option for my monitor’s native 1920 X 1080 resolution, this caused the game to get stuck in a crash loop which led to me having to reboot my entire system to get it to close out. I didn’t make a second attempt at changing the resolution.
When I played the Settlers 2 back when it was new, Impressions had not yet started releasing their city-building masterpieces, and as someone who was more interested in building and maintaining functional production chains and economies, this was a lot more fun for me than other RTS games of the time, such as Warcraft II, which focused less on the building aspects. While I can still appreciate it for what it was at the time, for me, it just doesn’t hold up.
The controls are awkward – many times mouse scrolling just wouldn’t work at all, and when it did, it was very jerky. Zooming was about as far from smooth as you can imagine. Sending geologists out to scout for minerals worked fine in the tutorial, but not at all in the campaign, and there was zero feedback on what the problem was. Buildings don’t work at all without roads, which need to be manually built – this isn’t really problematic, but feels unnecessary as the roads don’t seem to come with a resource cost.
I just don’t have the patience or inclination to relearn all the quirks of The Settlers 2: 10th Anniversary Edition when I can play games that feel more satisfying and more intuitive. It’s not about the graphics, not really. It’s about the controls and the lack of feedback in the early stages of the game, when I know it’s just going to get more complex. I’m glad this game is available, for the true classic-RTS enthusiasts, but it’s just not for me anymore.