“I need some sheep.” If these words have ever crossed your lips, and you’re not into bestiality (and even if you are), then chances are, you’re a fan of the board game Settlers of Catan. For those who haven’t played this game, it’s similar to Civilization (without all the civics or wars), where you build up your nation by gathering resources and expanding. What’s incredible about the game is that you play on a randomized board, so each game requires you to adapt to the land and where your opponents have placed their pieces.
The Catan PS3 game came out in Japan back in 2008, and it has finally made its way to the USA for the low price of $6.99. This is not a port of the XBLA title by the same name made by Big Huge Games, which they surprisingly let go. I actually e-mailed them once at the address listed on their website, and I didn’t even get a response. Sorry for trying to help out your company, asswipes. You already built it for the 360; how hard could it be to port a fairly simple game?
At any rate, I am in love with the classic board game, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up this title. You should know what to expect going in. There aren’t any hidden explosions or floating advisor heads that talk to you; it’s just straight up Settlers action. The trading/port system is very good. The in-game chat system is pretty nice. You can use a menu to send canned responses, some of which are pretty funny, such as “Lumber, lumber, lumber!”, “Need that lucky 7, baby!”, or “Let’s go!”. You can also use voice chat. For whatever reason, when creating a new game, the voice chat option defaults to “off.” Why not just let players mute individual people if they so choose? How much cursing and lewd behavior could there be in Catan?
The game supports online multiplayer, but not local multiplayer. Board game-based videogames are generally tough to play locally, since you can see your opponents’ cards, but I guess Chutes and Ladders 64 worked out to be OK, not to mention the ever-popular GoldenEye, in which you could see where your opponents were on their quadrant. It also supports nice tutorials and a rules menu to help newcomers to the game, which are much easier to follow than the instruction manual.
I like how a game with virtually no animation has 1080p and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround. There’s title screen music and in-game music that continually loops. The game definitely does look bright and welcoming in 1080p, which is nice since many PS3 titles are still only 720p, but it’s certainly arguable how much of a difference there is to the naked eye with this type of game.
There’s also slight variations you can make to the standard rules, such as completely randomizing the number tokens and harbors. It might make the game a bit more unbalanced, but it certainly adds some variation. The game has some pretty sick and twisted Trophies that will have you coming back for more, too. Such as “Win a game and get the least amount of resource cards,” “Beat the game with 11 points,” and the dreaded “Beat the game with 12 points.” It’s actually one of the best uses of Trophies. I really wish Sony would fix the Facebook update issue, which merely states that you got a “Hidden Trophy,” rather than the actual name of the Trophy. Why even bother hiding Trophies, anyway?
There’s really not much else to say about the game. If you like Settlers of Catan, then you should pick up this game if you have trouble getting four people to play together in real life. It’s up there with Bionic Commando Rearmed and Fat Princess as one of my favorite PSN titles.