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In the mid 16th century a great queen was bestowed on the throne of England. Elizabeth 1st has taken the path, which made her kingdom one of the strongest empires the world has ever seen. And now you can travel back in time, where with adventurous spirit you can gain glory and wealth for yourself, as well as help build an empire.
You come from a poor background, but have succeeded in becoming a small time merchant, based in the port of London. Now it’s time to make a successful career. You can go around visit merchants, buying and selling different goods and transport them from port to port in search for the greater profit. You should always visit the local Inns, for there’s the place where you will get information (and meet people who will ask for special favours along the way). You should try and buy real-estate in order to prove your upward social mobility. Or if you find all of this boring, you can even try your luck at piracy!
Hang on! Does all of this sound vaguely familiar? More then just vaguely? Off course, the game is quite similar to Sid Meier’s Pirates! The main difference is that it is not placed in the Caribbean. But gameplay-vice there’s also a great difference between Gloriana and Pirates!, for you see, Gloriana can be played in a multiplayer mode! It’s not in real time. It’s turn based and so more then one player can have a goal at it!
The graphics of the game are drawn and cartoonish, but very nice and they are in a 640x480 resolution. Every city you come to is a delight for the eyes and you will see many animated details while looking through the city or visiting different places in it. The background sound is a lovely medieval tune, playing softly, setting the mood and doesn’t get annoying. The controls are simple, for the game is fully mouse operated - and when I say mouse operated, you’ll see what I mean at the opening menu :).
If you plan to become a pirate, I strongly suggest you practice the naval battles (select the option at the opening menu), which allows you to practice attacks on towns or on open sea (both ways you’ll be fighting the opposite fleet of 5 ships).
Unfortunately I’ve never seen a manual for this game, so I have a feeling there are still some aspects of gameplay I haven’t discovered, but the game is somewhat intuitive. Therefore you won’t have any problems getting started and you will be intrigued by it, which will definitely motivate you to try it over and over. Still as there is no manual, you should always remember that the most important options are in your ship’s cabin. There you can click on the chest (where you can change from a peaceful merchant into a bloodthirsty pirate). The calendar will help you skip a number of days (by selecting how long you’ll wait in a certain port), which is very useful if you need to transport people or wait for them. The map is used for navigation (I said it’s an intuitive game), where you simply select the port you wish to visit.
While in town you should remember to visit the Inn, where you can hire or fire people under your commands. You can command sailors or servants (but you’ll need to own some property before you can hire those). Also the Inn is the place where you’ll meet different people, who can help you greatly improve your status at the royal court of Elizabeth. The merchants will usually have some sort of a special offer for you, but those can be tricky, because you might have to buy a really huge load (to big for your ship), so you need to be careful with that. The shipyard is naturally the place where you can repair your ship (the wear and tear of the sailing will leave a mark, so you will have to take every ship you own to the shipyard quite regularly), but in order to commence repairs, the ship needs to be empty. This is where a warehouse can be useful (especially if you can’t sell off all of your cargo).
In short, these pointers should help you get on the way, but if you by any chance own a manual for this game, it would be well appreciated!
All in all Gloriana is a great looking and sounding complex historical blend of strategy and simulation. It deserver high marks and if you’re a fan of the Pirates! you should definitely give it a go!
The game will work ONLY with DosBox 0.70 or higher.