Puerto Rico, the Computer Game

Puerto Rico, the Computer Game

From: Dartmoor Softworks/Eagle Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Puerto Rico, the Computer Game is a new computer game from Dartmoor Softworks/Eagle Games.

I had not played Puerto Rico before but have seen it played A LOT at the conventions I run gaming for. It is one of the more regular games played by board gaming fans. I did learn to play it before I tried the computer game and enjoyed it enough to want to buy it. It is one of the most popular German style board games where you work on your own development, make decisions about your colony in competition with others and try to be the first to reach a certain point at a certain time.

This review is not about Puerto Rico the board game. This is a review of the computer game and how it compares to the board game.

From the website: “50 years after Columbus discovered the New World, the island colony of Puerto Rico began to blossom. In Puerto Rico, the players will take on the roles of Prospector, Governor, Settler, Trader, Merchant, Builder, and Craftsman attempting to build the new colony while building their own wealth and reputation.”

As listed on the web site, the primary features of the PC game are gameplay for 1 to 5 players, solo play versus up to four computer players each with its own ability level, three levels of artificial intelligence (Beginner, Amateur and Professional), multiplayer via hot seat, LAN or internet, includes the expansion set (new buildings) for even more replayability, 3-D or 2-D gameplay, easy to follow tutorials and mouse over guides, and in-game save feature (you can save a game in progress).

Having played the board game once and learned from some veteran players the key aspects of the game, I was able to go right into the PC game without too much trouble and quickly figured out how it flowed. My first games were at the lowest level and I won, of course. All the elements were there that I remembered from the board game.

Further investigation into the game discovers a few flaws. For one, although nice to look at, the 3D view is somewhat useless. One advantage I liked about playing the board game was being able to see my other opponents progress as compared to mine. Like I said, 3D view is nice, but I would like to see all players at once or a way to scroll through them easily. Also it is difficult at times to follow the action because the computer turns fly by so quickly. You can only view one computer’s board at a time.

From website: “Since its publication, the boardgame Puerto Rico has attracted a passionate following of fans and won countless awards. Now, with Puerto Rico: The PC Game, fans can play solo or against friends online. When playing against the computer, you can set each player’s ability level. You control the speed of the computer turns, so you can play as fast or as slow as you want.”

Not being the best expert on measuring opponents, I asked a few friends that have played the PC game before and they said the computer AI is not much of a challenge. It rarely changes it strategy and does not appear to be very adaptive. You can just about play the game and anticipate the computer’s next move, particularly early in the game. However, not everyone agreed with this assessment although most did. One or two found that they lost as many times as they won on Professional level, but that may attest to their game skill and not the game itself.

The multiplayer aspect of the game is somewhat flawed. It claims you can play it in hot-seat mode, LAN or Internet. I have found, however, that online play is not quite what you would expect. It can not be played against another unless you and your opponents are on the same network. Once you are on the same network, however, you cannot see the game play text at the same time that you instant message; it is one or the other.

Although I had played the game, I did need to reference the tutorials and found them occasionally lacking.As a result, I was concerned for someone who has never played the board game. For example, the tutorials omit certain crucial areas of the game such as the functions of the quarry and doubloons on the building screen. You just about have to have working knowledge of the board game to play the PC game, which is not a good marketing approach. This is telling me that the makers were relying on only the players of the board game to buy the PC game, which does not seem smart to me.

In conclusion, although fun to play like the board game, it does not simulate the game environment 100%, plus it does not entirely live up to its promises. I am a fan of the board game, although not a hardcore player of the game, and this PC game is OK, but not great. Maybe the next version will improve on these things.

For more details on Dartmoor Softworks/Eagle Games and their new Computer Game “Puerto Rico, the Computer Game” check them out at their website http://www.eaglegames.net, and at all of your local game stores.

Puerto Rico, the Computer Game

From:Dartmoor Softworks/Eagle Games

Type of Game:Computer Game

Game Design by:Andreas Seyfarth

Developed by:Dartmoor Softworks

Cover Art by: Dartmoor Softworks

Retail Price:$ 39.99 (US)

Number of Players:1-5


Reviewed by: Ron McClung