The year is 1849 and people have traveled far and wide to try their hand at striking it rich in the wilds of California. In the game 1849, you are free to play in story mode in which you follow along through various locations and times in California's history trying to successfully complete various tasks with varying difficulties put forth for you to complete.
In story mode you're able to see the other ways people were able to turn a profit that didn't directly involve gold. And if don't feel like playing through the entire story, you have the option to play in Sandbox mode, which allows you to pick a single location.
The basic principle of any city simulation game stands with 1849. For this particular game, before you see the land you are to settle you are given three options of how you want to settle the land, each with a different degree of difficulty.
Once you've decided on your difficulty level you are shown your tasks, the land and the limited area in which you are allowed to build upon. Throughout the game you open trade routes with neighboring towns while your town is faced with events such as crime, fires and earthquakes.
What I found interesting about this game is that each different location within California had different things you can build, manufacture, mine, grow, sell and trade. It was refreshing to see a game hold to its historical theme in that regard. I found the subject matter to be unique and the approach to be fun and lighthearted.
The music and artwork fit right in with the mood of the game. My only real complain is that I wish that I could rotate the buildings so they would orientate correctly because it always felt awkward to place a building facing the wrong way on the road.
Bottom Line: Like any simulation game, set an alarm because you will lose all track of time building your towns. Not only is this game slightly addictive but you can also learn a little something about California history around the time of the Gold Rush.
The review is based on the retail version of 1849 for the PC.