Delusions of grandeur is probably a term that fits the strategy genre. That's never been more true than in the case of The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom. A cross-breed of classic real time strategy and Sim City. Here's the building of your kingdom as important, if not more so, as creating a proper army. You choose from three different paths to go down; the way of war, trade och science. Either way you win by gathering enough Victory Points that you get from certain achievements in whatever path you choose to go down.
That's what the game claims, at least. Which is a lie. A damned lie. In the end, the three different play styles blend together. They have too. Settlers 7 is incredibly time demanding, which might be a bit of a shock for people expecting otherwise from the inviting and sweet presentation. The experiences can be likened by finding a razor in a cone of ice cream. The learning curve is brutally slow and the matches will test your patience. Mostly because of the way resources are handled.
That's the most obvious example. Resources are needed to keep the gears of kingdom grinding. Usually you start out in a place rather devoid of them. To get more you will have to expand, which means conquering nearby enemy camps. Which sounds easy enough and should go without saying. If it's not for the fact that you will need resources to even dare to suggest an attack on your enemies. You city demands a thousand different things to keep itself afloat, which will eat into your stores. Which in turn makes building an army incredibly slow. It doesn't end there, of course - everything in Settlers 7 takes a long time. Everything. No matter which path you decide to go down, make sure to pack lunch, because it's going to take time.
Time you spend looking down on your kingdom, peeking down at the ant-farm simulator's different parts. There is nothing wrong with the presentation in Settlers 7, that's for sure. Green forests, crooked small Terry Pratchett-buildings and hundreds of chubby citizens. The game is filled with picturesque little details that it feels like opening a treasure chest every time a new building is added to the mix. The whole kingdom is filled with energy and a superorganized chaos. Even when the soldiers are hacking each other to death it's hard not to melt a bit on the inside, everything being so teddy bear cute. The well-made music helps as well.
I can appreciate the self-going aspect of the game, but at times it gets frustrating that it's not possible to micro-manage my subjects. Sometimes they just stand and stare into nothing. There is a prioritization system to solve these things, but it doesn't really seem to work very well.
Which leads us to the biggest problem with Settlers 7. It just doesn't work very well. A lot of thank is thanks to the DRM the game comes with. It demands both registration and that you're constantly connected to the Internet. Time and time again you're kicked from the game with the motivation "connection error", despite the fact that you're connected. The game has also a tendency to freeze, usually when saving or loading. Those are problems Settlers 7 has had from the start and still suffer from, despite updates and patches. So in the end, the DRM that is supposed to protect the game from pirates ends up hurting the buying customer. Which is sad, especially since Settlers 7 is a pretty good game. The presentation is unique and amazing. There's a lot to be found here, even if it often feels like a chore to do so.
If you want to dive straight into the action, the strategy genre is usually not your first choice. Settlers 7 won't change that. But if you have a lot of patience, an love for slow gaming systems and can live with the technical glitches, then Settlers 7 is a really sweet lesson in delusions of grandeur.