With Anno 2070, a well-regarded series of strategic city builders goes rushing headlong into the future. No longer do you produce spices and dates, or ivory and jade. Such notions seem almost quaint in Anno 2070, where fancy health drinks and microchips are in high demand, and submarines scan for anomalies near underwater islands. The game’s appealing futuristic vibe is apparent from the main menu screen, where you view the rotating Earth as if through a satellite feed, scan lines and static occasionally disrupting your view. But the joy goes far beyond the superficial. Anno 2070 is a detailed and daunting game that lures you in with its attractive trappings, and then hooks you with its interwoven social and economic structures. Sandbox urban planning and structured missions are combined effortlessly. It’s a one-two punch of game addictiveness: “Slowly expand and improve my growing civilization” and “I’ll do just one more quest before I turn in.”
That addictiveness is further heightened by Anno 2070’s persistent nature, in which a metagame of sorts keeps the rewards coming the more you play. Your main structure is the ark–a floating base from which your helpful AI companion intones advice and updates. You can upgrade the ark with various modules you earn, research, and purchase over time. Modules have a variety of effects: increase transport ships’ cargo space, enable offshore windmills, and so forth, and once you find them, you get to keep them. Another metagame feature: when you log in to the game, you and other players might get an opportunity to vote for the faction leader of your choice, in an effort to reap the potential rewards he or she might offer. Note the “log in” part, however. To begin playing–and obviously, to participate in online features like voting–you must be connected to the Internet. You can continue playing a single-player game should you lose your connection, though that could cause you to lose your persistent ark upgrades.