What is it with all these 'maritime exploration' games? I wondered as I unfolded yet another battered-looking chart of the high seas, and why do I have to review them all? Then I remembered: this year's the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of America, and everybody hates me.
So what better way to celebrate the discovery of the New World than by, er, discovering the New World? (Or one of five alternative worlds thoughtfully provided for when the first one gets too overrun with hamburger restaurants and rap 'artists'.) This is done by sending ships out into the unknown and waiting for them to encounter land. Their crews then disembark and start building settlements. Of course, you're not alone out there - four other powers are vying for the same goal, and conflicts (both sea and land-based) are inevitable.
This could all have been horribly boring, but (surprisingly) it isn't. The graphics are a big help. While not exactly breathtaking, they're extensively animated and I particularly liked the 'ship sailing over the horizon' effect. The other major plus is that the game plays itself until you intervene, so it's not constantly hanging around waiting for trivial input from you. (This is the same approach Dreadnoughts used last month, and the only sensible way to go about things if you ask me.)
The problem is the user interface isn't up to much. The cursor moves around all jerkily, and the menu system feels disjointed and cumbersome. And while the icons are pretty, I had to look them all up in the manual to work out what they did (thus defeating their object). It's quite a nice manual, though, with plenty of background info on our man Columbus.
So what's the verdict then? Well, while Discovery certainly isn't up there with Powermonger or Mega Lo Mania, compared to the sort of thing I usually have to put up with it's a breath of fresh air. A 'sea breeze'.
The Bottom Line
Quite a few numbers knocking around, but it's playable enough to compensate. Just the job if you're planning some sort of Amiga-based Columbus anniversary celebration.