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Build a New World empire in real time — in 1503 A.D. As the title indicates, this sequel is set 99 years before Sunflowers Interactive's original 1602 A.D., at a time when travel and trade across the open ocean promised both unknown danger and great profit. Explore islands of opportunity around the world, in four varying climate zones. Found a new city and develop it to survive and prosper, exploiting local resources and trading for foreign commodities. Then build more cities, paying careful attention to nearby resources and territory claimed by other cultures. Protect the new nation on land and sea with keen diplomacy and an able military.
Like its predecessor, 1503 A.D. blends the large-scale, long-term approach of turn-based empire-building games with the immediate battles of a real-time strategy. Cities and nations are built and improved gradually over time to maximize profit and influence, while defense and conquest take place through real-time battles on land and sea. Trade and diplomacy are primary and many kinds of deals and treaties can be struck. A variety of land and sea units allow for complex battles. In addition to an informative assortment of charts and statistics, players can often notice important situations simply by watching the main game screen, as certain conditions are represented graphically by the cities and citizens.
The game begins as the player sets sail for the New World seeking wealth, power, and the chance to found a new nation. While food and shelter are obvious necessities at first, as a city develops its citizens become more sophisticated and demand a wider variety of goods and luxuries, many of which are often only available through trade. Different natural resources become important as the game continues, since the fruits of technological advance often require new kinds of raw materials. Players may encounter as many as nine other civilizations as they explore the globe, each with its own disposition and practices. In addition to the single-player campaign, various "open-ended" and multi-player modes are also supported. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide