This is a game which utterly and completely fails in every way -- to show its age. In all other ways, the game is perfection defined, and has incredible depth, entertaining gameplay, highly realistic simulation, and gorgeously hand-crafted and pre-rendered graphics.
Approaching this game as if it's a "trading game" is like approaching The Sims as if it's a "home economics training tool" -- it's completely missing the bigger picture. From your first tax bill to your first profitable trading run, the game gives you no illusions of success, only that which you strategically earn, and earn you shall. Money? Pfouah! Your earnings are reputation and power, to lavish comfort on your prospective suitor and to expand your holdings.
See, the unique thing about Patrician III that no game has yet duplicated is that it begins as a basic speculative cargo trading simulation, and then when you least expect it it becomes completely different. Suddenly you're no longer interested in simply maintaining a fleet of trade ships; now you're becoming a Hanse-era industrial mogul by building factories, hiring managers, and executing profitable itineraries and regular shipments. And all the while you're fighting the good fight against pirates... and ever so occasionally fighting the bad fight against other traders... until, when you least expect it, the game changes *again*. Now you're not just an industrial mogul but a political force to be reckoned with, and your decisions bump against a council of apathetic, profiteering councillors (like yourself, of course) who resist your decisions unless you work out deals in the bathhouses. And then, when you least expect it, it's a real-time strategy game? What's all this about a siege? Yeah. Wow.
If there's any nitpick about the game, it's that it sometimes has a "roguelike" style of frustration to it. You will learn about many things the hard way, oftentimes having no idea that what you did was wrong (unless you had read the impressive manual from cover to cover -- which, although the manual is excellent, is not light bathroom reading) until you are suddenly brought up on charges. You will quickly learn not to do these things, and soon you will be in the right mindset to live in the Hanseatic League with the best of them.
May the wind be at your back, Captain. You've got a long road to the top ahead.