Gold of the Americas
In this turn-based exploration game, turns are a whopping ten years each with a full game consisting of only thirty total turns. That's a healthy three-hundred year span in which to discover and exploit the Gold of the Americas. In this case, all three Americas are included: South, Central and North and the game focuses on the years 1500-1800. The warring protagonists in the race for exploration supremacy are France, England, Spain and Portugal. You can choose to play any one of the four and, in what I consider a self-defeating feature, have the option to set the experience levels of the computer controlled opponents. Unless you're looking for an easy quick mop-up, playing at less than the highest level seems counterproductive to challenge and enjoyment.
As in most exploration games worth their salt, Gold of the Americas is played on a relatively blank map with exploration being the only way to fill in the surrounding world. In this regard, the maps can either be historically accurate or randomly generated. This latter feature opens the game up to some truly wondrous possibilities as using this option imposes no factual limitations on resource availability or native populations. Once the historically based scenarios have been exhausted, the game remains fresh and challenging (perhaps even more so) with the utilization of the random generation of all aspects such as land, terrain, oceans, natives economy, explorer capabilities and political intervention.
In this day of politically correct (but not always accurate) portrayals of revisionist history, the option to exterminate the native population in world exploration games may not be pleasant but at least Gold of the Americas doesn't shy away from past realities. Writing unpleasant events out of historically based games serves no greater purpose than to appease sensitive groups who feel censoring actual facts make them go away. In that regard, the designers of the game are to be commended for their courage in emulating life as it was during those three volatile centuries where slave trading was practiced (and condoned) and wholesale population extermination was considered a proper defense.
Game play is smooth and the interface is easily learned and effective as well. Not surprisingly, money plays an important role in the overall success or failure of your plans and "home office" taxation levies are severe. What's an explorer to do but build up his/her own private reserve by employing some of the distasteful aforementioned tactics (exploitation of the masses). In all, Gold of the Americas gives you the chance to relive the excitement of Old World exploration and face off against some of the most tenacious explorers in history.