E3 06: The Guild II Impressions

This strategy game is like The Sims set in medieval times, with a strategic game that lets you guide your family dynasty to glory and riches.

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LOS ANGELES--The Guild II is the follow-up to 4Head Studio's 2002 game 1400: The Guild, which was a great economic simulation about life in the Middle Ages. In The Guild II, you'll control a family dynasty as it attempts to carve its way up the economic and social ladder of late medieval society. The gameplay might best be described as The Sims, only with a strategic game mixed in with it.

In The Guild II, you'll create a patriarch or matriarch for a medieval family, and from there, you'll decide how to make your fortune. You can be a merchant or a smith or two other professions, and you'll build up an economic base by constructing buildings such as foundries and by hiring workers to produce goods. You'll also have to worry about the future, so there's a social game where you must find and woo a prospective mate to produce offspring that will grow up and take over the family business.

The key is that you can play any way you want. You can be an honest merchant and build churches and other structures to improve the town, or you can be the equivalent of a medieval mobster and try to sabotage, extort, or assassinate your rivals. You'll do this by building robbers' nests and other sinister structures that give you access to shady characters, and one thing you'll be able to do is have them blow up buildings.

The Guild II will take place on a much larger map than its predecessor. While The Guild featured only one town, The Guild II will have up to five towns on a map. This is important, because if you flood one town with a certain product, you may need to find a new market for it. Or you can send your offspring to set themselves up in the other towns, with the goal of trying to gain political and economic control over the region.

The game looks very nice, and there's a new 3D engine in place. You can still zoom down for an interior look at all your buildings, and you'll see your workers going about and doing their jobs, like you would in The Sims or any other people management game. The game will feature multiplayer gameplay with support for up to eight players, each one controlling a dynasty. There's a cooperative mode promised as well. Considering just how interesting and innovative its predecessor was, The Guild II looks quite promising, and it should offer a change of pace from the typical real-time strategy game. It's scheduled to ship later this year.

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