Well, although it *is* under the Catan name, it is very much it's own game, simply borrowing many game mechanics. Players of the classic Catan will definately slide right in with many of the vagarieites of the game, such as the "robber" who has a new name but identical funtion.
Also, the dice rolls and recource aquisition is performed via the same game mechanic
A major departure is the that there are NO victory Points. NONE. The game is over when the last player completes all their objectives, which I will explain in a moment.
But the largest departure is the railroads and shipping. These are not new themes in boardgames, but are very new for Catan. That there is a two-step process to acheiving each step towards winning (getting rid of all your wooden blocks, via shipping on railroads) just complicates the matter. But I do not critize the game for being a little complicated! I would even congratulate the game designers for adding another level of strategery to the game, while not making the game tedious. A balancing act, accomplished in part by the removal of score keeping.
That is an amazing accomplishment. If I have any readers, they may have noted I have a large obection to lengthy score totalling and complicated matchematics. I always feel someone may be cheating ahead in the scoring, maybe unintentionally. And I feel lost and helpless, a feeling I abhor.
So, in a manner I am grateful to see, the winner is merely made known and incontrovertably. Either they have a wooden peice still to use up, or they don't.
That's not extremely in depth as reviews go, but those were a few short comments.
Something I have noticed in all Catan-like games: a "land grab" is essential to a well-played game. In some games, taking your time so you don't overextend is vital. In these games, however, there are no attacks, and if you take your time, if you snooze, you loose. Be a sooner, as the Okies would say.
At SCARAB (a convention in SC last month) I played Catan: Struggle for Rome, which was also not at all a Catan remake, but it's own game, despite it also borrowed many of the same game mechaincs, as did Settlers of America. I see a trend, and it's not a bad one.