Review | 1849
1849 is a city building title set in the year stated in the title. Taking place during the Gold Rush, it tasks you with developing several cities in California and sustaining them.
The game offers two modes, Sandbox and Campaign. The former allows you to choose where you want to set up a city; in the plains, forest, mountains, etc. You then proceed to utilize what you have available to build the biggest (though it should be noted that the space you have is limited, so you’ll probably max out the grid within an hour), most functional city that you can.
The latter option is a bit more in-depth. Seeking your fortune, you will have to start several settlements and turn them into bustling cities. Each one has three objectives, such as selling lumber and stockpiling food, and you will have three options before you start the stage. These options allow you to start with either a lump sum of cash (though not all stages have this, a couple of the later stages only have industry options) or a reduced amount of cash and an industry. Sometimes you will also have the option of already having a trade route open, which can also save you some money as you would otherwise have to spend between $250 and $500 to open one.
Once you’ve made your choices, the building begins. You will need to balance your housing with your industry, as having too many residents will result in people leaving due to unemployment and too many jobs will result in you losing money every month. Your backers will send you a one time bonus of $500 if you run out of cash, but after that you’ll be on your own.
As your city grows you need to start building public services, such as saloons and schools. These will allow your residents to upgrade their houses (providing you have enough resources) and earn you more in rent, thus funding your industries. In addition you will need to use cash or other resources to clear out obstacles, thus granting you more space to work with and possibly a different type of resource. You could leave the obstacles there, however they limit your already limited work space.
There are also dangers in the game. If, for instance, you don’t have a fire department, your buildings can burn down quite easily. If this happens enough, you may not be able to recover at all. Likewise, if you have no police then the businesses will be routinely robbed, cutting into your profits.
Occasionally mayors of other towns will send you requests for specific materials. Fulfilling these requests nets you some decent benefits, such as a monthly supply of wheat that can be turned into either booze or food.
Overall, if you’re like me (it should be noted that I hadn’t played a city builder in quite a while), you will probably enjoy the title. It is a nice starting point for any that haven’t tried out the genre, and you can move on to the more complicated games once you get the feel from this game. Though it is admittedly quite limited, it still managed to suck me in until I finished off the campaign and tried out the Sandbox mode. For those wondering, I preferred the Campaign mode.
Final score: 3.5/5