My lover stands on golden sands in our review of Rise of Venice: Beyond the Sea

No you won't have Bobby Darin crooning at you in this expansion to the addictively endless trading simulation of 15th Century Venice, although to be fair, it is quite possibly the only disappointing factor of the new addon to Rise of Venice.

Beyond the Sea expands Rise of Venice with the much requested... well, expansion by adding 13 new cities to your Mediterranean map with the likes of Marseille, Barcelona, Valencia, Lisbon, Algier and Gibraltar, sounds pretty cushty, but not everyone will be an ally of Venice, nor will they wish to trade with you, allowing for more of the same challenging and wallet-busting gameplay as you buy, sell, and increase your holdings in cities as you vie to become the Doge of Venice.

watch a world go by in Rise of Venice

However in Beyond the Sea you will be doing that without tutorial, aid or even structure as the expansion is based solely in freeplay mode, which unfortunately means you cannot take advantage of the lengthy campaign with the new expanded Mediterranean, but if you look at it the other way, it does mean you can enjoy practically endless fun in freeplay mode.

Another new, but somewhat hidden away addition is the new family missions, these can be accessed via your house in Venice and give you a new source of income through requests such as arranging marriages, to getting cozy with other cities. The added variety on the missions is a breath of fresh air compared to the same resource requests over-and-over, but for some reason there doesn't appear to be a direct indication for a new mission, you have to check your house every now and again rather than look out for a star on the Venice hub.

With the sheer amount of cities, new buildings of interest, and the brilliant new family quests the only thing missing in Beyond the Sea is retroactive support, that's right, unfortunately if you've already spent 20 or so hours in a freeplay game, you'll have to start fresh to take advantage of the new aspects, which is always difficult at first, but another 20 hours spent in the game wouldn't exactly hurt you, right?

All 38 cities to trade with

If you are unaware, Rise of Venice is a trading and economic strategy of sorts that starts the player out as a young merchant looking to pave his way to a trading empire during Renaissance era Venice, whilst you begin with a meagre group of trading ships, it won't be long until you've turned them into a mercantile fleet! Rise of Venice isn't all about the trading, and Renaissance Europe was ripe with political machinations that you will have to pay attention to if you wish to succeed.

Probably one of the most impressive features of Rise of Venice is that the economy is completely self-contained; supply and demand is dictated by the current goings-on in the city, and an increase in population will require an increased need for certain goods, everything that you can buy and sell is produced by factories in the cities and used by the inhabitants of them. If a city uses up a lot of fruit but does not have the means to produce any, then the demand for it will be high, this is where you come in, deliver the goods as per a city's need and your reputation with that city will increase, it’s a never-ending cycle, and one that you can simply watch unfold right in front of your eyes, and it's pretty remarkable.

Rise of Venice: Beyond the Sea is a little bit of what everyone felt was missing from the original release, with a much larger map, even more cities to schmooze and the potential to have you stuck at your PC for countless hours the pack is a must for Rise of Venice fans, just don't feel too sore about losing your Doge status in your current freeplay game!

four stars

Rise of Venice: Beyond the Sea is available now as an add-on to the core Rise of Venice game which is required for play, both are readily available on digital download sites such as Steam, one of the only downsides to the pack is its price that currently stands at £14.99 SRP.