Features & Use
My first impression of Catan was really good - and I’m not saying this because I’m promoting a product or looking for personal gain. It’s just that Catan is one of those games that just looks solid and convincing from the get-go. I’m just one of those people that really values the way something looks. So, yes, I do judge a book by its cover when it comes to apps. Sure there are free apps out there with tons of free features, but I am willing to pay a couple extra bucks for a game/app that actually looks good.
So what’s the game Settlers of Catan all about in the first place? In a nutshell, this board game revolves around different groups of settlers that are fighting over supremacy on an island. This island is divided into hexagonal strip of land, each filled with different natural resources. You can place settlements, cities and streets on these hexagons and extract the resources from the land by rolling a certain dice combination. Only by actively trading and building can you collect enough points to win the game.
Obviously, that’s an extremely abridged summary of the game, but Catan does a really good job of porting the game to Android. Newbies can learn how to play the game through tutorials – a great feature for beginners trying to familiarize themselves with the rules of the game. That just goes to show how thoughtful the developer was when making the game. In addition to the usual classic game mode, players can also complete other tasks and earn bonus points for reaching certain milestones. An example of that is building more port cities in order to get two extra bonus points at the end of the game.
Besides the helpful tutorials, fun gameplay and good first impressions, I can’t continue without mentioned some of the game’s drawbacks.
First off, the game is a bit unfair and unbalanced, which causes quite a bit of frustration for the player. Why in the world does the computer always place the robber (a figure game piece that blocks a playing field) on the playing fields of other players while another AI player is obviously winning by a mile? Why are the computer players constantly trading stuff between each other for absolutely no reason? Of course, there are ways to prevent them from doing so, but that really kills the game. That kind of stuff is unacceptable. Adding different difficulty levels could be a possible solution.
Two other major drawbacks are the limitation on additional functions and the installation size. Just as Android is trying to deal with the problem of devices having too little internal memory, Catan comes around with a 35MB installation file! Is this a joke or have these people gone out of there mind? Basically, this means that a lot of devices will never be able to download the game.
Also, forcing in-app purchases down users’ throats isn’t a good idea. Having to pay €2.99 is bad enough, so asking for additional money is just flat out wrong and over the top.
Catan definitely deserves a four star rating when considering both the pros and cons of the game.
For those of you that play Catan exclusively in multiplayer among your friends, the game is a total blast without any downsides.
Screen & Controls
As I already mentioned, Catan really scores well in this category. A great first impression, fluid menu controls, a good presentation with beautiful graphics – it all sounds like a perfect game.
Unfortunately, the controls aren’t nearly as good on the HTC Desire. The screen turns black during the game if I don’t press for too long (that’s definitely a bug). After I turn the screen back on, some of the buttons stop working and pinch-to-zoom works pretty poorly.
This could obviously have something to do with my device, so I am open to feedback and discussion. For the time being, I’m giving Catan four stars because a game needs to more than just pretty eye-candy.
Speed & Stability
Catan runs smoothly and without any crashes aside from the little bugs mentioned in the previous category.