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Since there seem to be no comments on reviews, I must post the full review here. Dumb 2000 signs limit!

Many series had their highlight in the third part, for others the third part sucked horribly. Settlers is of the former kind. After the first two parts (only parts starting from 2 are available on GOG also) had you build up your small town with roads, originally I was very skeptical when it was announced that the settlers would create their own roads. This, however, was a misunderstanding, as the roads concept was scrapped, buildings could be placed almost freely, and what ensued was goodness.

But what is Settlers 3?

When my aunt gifted me a few games at one of my birthdays, they included "One Step Beyond" - a forgotten small game - and three games I completely loved: Dungeon Keeper 2, Settlers 3, Might & Magic VII. Settlers 3 later got two expansions, I bought them both later. They are included on GOG.

Settlers 3 is an "Aufbau sim" in German style. The American style Aufbau sims like Caesar and Pharaoh have you built a complex city, the German style sims are more about building a basic economy, then getting some resources to build up the military and overwhelming the opponent with this. Knights & Merchants is a clunky gem with that idea, but the Settlers series might have been the origin of this style. And it is one that takes its time. You have four kinds of buildings: Basic resources, food, military, society. So you build at first woodcutters, sawmills, possibly foresters, and stonemasons, to get planks (made from logs cut by woodcutters, processed in the sawmill) and stone (directly cut from stone by masons, a finite but usually plentiful resource, like mine resources). Then you build a food production (feeds miners only, others need no food), and mines. With the resources from mines you create morale-lifting gold (or gems as Egyption) and weapons. And then you attack. Miracles by priests, and rarely used siege weapons can help you. Each of the 3+1 civs is different, but basic gameplay is the same.

The four civs are Romans, who have balanced building resource use, Asians who use more stones, and Egyptians who use more wood, as well as the addon civ, the Amazons, a female powerhouse.

Long before the MeToo era, before this all would have been seen as pandering, this civ was actually very fun to play with, and their gong (a golden metal plate that is hammered upon to make sound that destroys opposing buildings) is, while possibly based on the Biblical story of Jericho, a very fun siege weapon to use. Many years ago, I played the Amazon campaign and used just that gong to destroy the opponents (with an army, of course).

Each of the civilizations has specialized buildings: Romans can create coal from planks, making it an infinite resource. Asians can make not only stonecutters but also stone mines, but their religion uses coal to create Japanese rice wine (SAke), making them the only civ with a finite religious resource, so in (very rare) very long games they will be at a disadvantage eventually, as they are the only civ with really finite resources - all others at least can get more goods from priests who don't use finite resources for mana, which is used to cast spells.

So while all civs are fundamentally different, for all practical purposes they are balanced. The campaigns are heavyweights with 24 missions each in the main campaigns (8 Roman, 8 Asian, 8 Egypt), the more difficult Mission CD (8+8+8 again) and the challenging Amazon CD (12 for the other three civs, 12 for Amazons).

The gameplay itself takes time, but most missions are finished in one to three hours, at least in the main campaigns. Some are much quicker, as the starting army is enough to win, or to secure such an advantage that the opponent can't play at all. Of course, this is only possible in the campaigns - trying this in a PvP game will result in your complete defeat, as you are at a natural big disadvantage when fighting, which lasts until enough morale boost is produced to get the attack over 100 percent (at which point the own defense also rises). Usually defense in the own territory starts at 100 percent, attack starts much lower, depending also on how many players are in a game. So you will use a big military to overrun an opponent.

Human players can destroy military buildings, freeing more soldiers but allowing the now not overwatched territory to at first still remain in your possession, but being captured if an opponent claims it - however, as the computer never uses pioneers which can capture any unclaimed land, and expands not too fast, usually this is a good idea in the campaign.

The graphics are as shown on the screenshots on the store page. There is a big "Wuselfaktor" which is one of the main fun parts of the game - while you wait for your buildings to be constructed and eventually can build up your military, you watch your settlers do the work (or speed it up by pressing F12 to skip a minute).

The music was good for its time, but you will eventually have heard it all and want to turn it off (this is only possible in the Windows volume mixer for me, neither ingame nor in the setup - the setup can turn off the background music but not the sounds by the settlers) and have some music or videos on Youtube or in a media player running in the background.

Here one of the major cons of the game comes into play - like some games of the era, it can only run pretty exclusively now, unless you use third party tools. That means, you might not be able to alt-tab out, and you might not be able to have Unity games running in the background, as the graphics mode changes will cause them to go to the foreground and fail initializing the game. This can possibly both be circumvented by wrapping the graphics with third party tools (DcWnd, DXGL), but I did not test that. Neither did I test the unofficial widescreen patch. So "as is" you will need to configre a playlist prior to starting the game. As you can save at any time, you will need to make use of that and exit to change the playlist.

There are persisting technical issues with some builds of computers and the game. Personally, I need to use the four years old version of the game (with additionally winmm.dll renamed in the installation folder, so the game doesn't find it) as I would have graphical issues otherwise. Trying to fix those with DxWnd and DXGL caused other issues, which is why I didn't fully test playing with them. For example, at the full-screen setting the right-click worked but not the right-click scrolling. Borderless windowed fulsscreen inherited the graphical issues. Finding no working setup, I used the four years old game version "37985993", still available via the settings in GOG Galaxy.

Currently the game is available for 11.11 USD on GOG if you're in the Eurozone (likely 9.99 EUR). While at this price you certainly get your money's worth, if you want to wait for a while, sales happen very often, allowing you to save a few extra bucks. In any case, I would fully recomment getting this game, unless you really need a fast-paced gameplay. The game being a bit slow does not mean it is boring, and there IS the F12 button for when you can only wait and don't want to watch your settlers. But usually there's always something new to build, some fight to prepare, some small bit to optimize, or just to watch everything working.

(5 stars)