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  Real-time strategy games aren't for the mentally lazy. Winning them takes patience, skill, 
  a talent for relating causes and effects, and the ability to recognize the interconnectivity of 
  multiple complex systems. Since 1993, German developer Blue Byte has been combining RTS 
  mechanics with elements of city-building sim games in its series The Settlers, and the results 
  have been uneven. 

  The studio's current offering, The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, though 
  working hard to create an RTS that's both accessible and complex, arrives at equally uneven 
  results. 

  RTS games are notorious for having steep learning curves and most of them approach the issue 
  of teaching their mechanics via a single-player campaign mode. The Settlers 7's campaign follows 
  the exploits of the brave Princess Zoe as she fights off Lord Wolvering, would-be usurper of the 
  kingdom of Tandarin. Being somewhat new to the war business, Zoe leans on a friend of her 
  father's—gray-haired, tubby Sir Bors who provides her (and you) with mission objectives that demonstrate 
  the game's systems a manageable few at a time. Things roll along well enough until about midway 
  through and then the problems start. 

  It's then you realize that The Settlers 7 is a game about disconnects; the disconnect between box art 
  (dreary and serious) and game art (colorful and humorous), and that between graphics and gameplay. 

  The game's cartoonish art and light-hearted script suggest the game is accessible to everyone but the 
  truth is, many people will be excluded by its Everest-like learning curve.