And I really do wish that I liked the gameplay more. I'm not entirely sure what happened--the even slower pace of this game compared to The Nations
, the lack of differentiation between the various characters in the game, the particular combination of jobs and infrastructure--but Cultures
just doesn't appeal to me the same way that some of the other games in the genre do. Instead of me realizing that I just spent four hours in front of a computer micromanaging a virtual village, I found myself noticing the micromanagement more and more and time passing ever so slowly.
The premise is a solid one, as far as games of this type go. You're the sort of omniscient overlord of a group of Vikings, out to recover the six pieces of the sun (a meteor, really, but who's counting?) Along the way you'll have to do a dozen or so missions, each with their own requirements. And in true economic micromanagement style, you'll spend a lot of time building up your village so that it's formidable enough to do something useful.
As in most games of the genre, you start off with practically nothing. You then build a hunter's tent so that you can garner food, housing tents for your Vikings to sleep in, and so on. Each Viking has a number of satisfaction meters that must be kept up for optimal performance, and each Viking supposedly has unique needs. In reality, you end up just blurring them all into one. They're just not as endearing as one would hope.
And so the game goes. There's combat, but it's not by any stretch the focus of the game, and indeed most of the time you'll simply be micromanaging your settlement, trying to get things to run as smoothly as possible.
The main problem with the game is that it's even more micromanagey than most of the other titles. You have to assign housing for each of your characters, you have to have them get married, you have to tell the women to have kids, and once you're using the specialized units you even have to tell them to eat. This is the main difference between this game and something like The Nations--whereas the latter lets you pretty much concentrate on the structures and layout and general 'flow,' Cultures requires you to micromanage just about every niggly little detail.
You can also play the game multiplayer, although the Nations Online Server bit doesn't work at all--I assume it's meant to use THQ's Multiplay servers, but it definitely doesn't seem to work properly. The only thing left is LAN gaming.