Hey all, I have it (got it from a Gamestop, gonna miss that in France)!
So far, so good. Pretty challenging game, but it is very true to the old colonization style (although, to be fair, I did not play colonization very much in the old days). I agree with the above, the game looks exactly like Civ4, not surprising, as it was built from the engine as sort of a "total conversion" mod. The gameplay is significantly different from Civ4 and it should not be seen as even really the same game, in as much as the orginal Civ was not the same game as the orginal Colonization.
There are a TON of strategic possibilities here. Do you put newcoming colonists into one city to make a metropolis, do you spread them out, do you sacrifice one precious precious worker to make a military unit to deal with other nations or the natives, do you emphasize liberty bells (to expand cultural borders and rebellion level) or do you emphasize religion to get faster colonies? All great choices, and all viable in their own way.
There is a good amount of micromanagement here... and it can get a bit over the top for those that don't want to juggle colonists or ship goods. Luckily, the import/export feature and the trade route plannner make some of this a bit better, and you can have your wagon trains automatically supply colonies with different goods back and forth. It works rather well, but the auto-colonist placement is not as successful (and frankly, juggling your workforce is most of what this game is about, so why would you want to automate it). The scale, and the map, are both much smaller than a Civ game. Having 5-6 colonies is a big task and one that will need decent management and tending. Obviously, you could just set up small resource "posts" that serve to gather one good and ship it to larger processing colonies, but this will require wagon trains and infrastructure (in the form of roads).
You will hate the monarch. This is natural. The actual colonists hated their monarch too. Taxes will tick you off. Random demands for money will REALLY tick you off. Just as soon as you get the 3000 gold you need to buy the cool military unit or boat you wanted, the king will ask you for a "donation" of 640+ gold. He/she is a right b*@#%@#d. Eventually, your economy will get into swing and this will be less of a problem.
There are some flaws here. One was instantly apparent. I booted up the game, sat down to pick my faction. Ah, here we are - France (bonus to deal with Natives), Spain (bonus to kill Natives), England (bonus to liberty bells), the Dutch (bonus to trade), and Portu.... WAIT, NO PORTUGAL!?!?!?! Seriously, the game is called "Colonization," the orginal Civ4 that the game is based on has the Portuguese, but they decided to NOT INCLUDE ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC COLONIZING NATIONS IN THE GAME?! I love the Dutch and all, but Portugal was far more involved in serious New World colonization than the Dutch (and yes, this is said by a guy currently living in New Amsterdam). The Portuguese should be added and given some sort of bonus to exploration or something like that.
Next, the goods are a bit without personality. I really don't feel much of a difference from monopolizing the coat market, than the cloth market or the cigar market. Sure, the prices are different, and they rise and fall, but it all seems like you could have created a catch-all "finished goods" and be just as well off. The natives demand different things, but I have seen little benefit in trading with the native over trading with Europe. Maybe I just haven't played enough yet.
Otherwise, a great game at a decent price (here anyway). Good for a quick and rather addictive play. I would give it somewhere around 85/100, if I were into arbitrary and highly suibjective numerical reviewing.
"Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoscet!"
(Kill them all. God will know his own.)
-- Arnaud-Armaury, the Albigensian Crusade