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civilization,pc game        civilization,pc game

There have been millions of words written about Sid Meierís Civilization over the last 10 years. I can crystallize and concentrate all them into one word: Awesome! Even as an affirmed action fanatic, Iíve never been able to purge my system of the desire, nay lust, to play Civilization every chance I get. Why does a game that is a decade old keep bringing me back? It may be my insane desire for power or it may be that I like to beat up on Knights with Bombers or possibly I just like ordering people around, whatever it is Iíve never gone more than a year or so without lapsing week-long hazes of building a global dynasty.

The premise is simple enough Ė conquer the globe. But how you do it is completely up to you. Make allies and exchange knowledge to gain the advantage over your enemies. Build massive armies to wipe out any opposition. Send in diplomats to other cities to steal technology or incite unrest. Establish trade routes. Research advancements like Iron Working, Communism, and Construction to enhance your civilizationís technology. But donít get so centered on expanding your civilization that you neglect your civic duties Ė a happy, well-fed and educated population is the key to success. If the population thrives and is happy, your civilization can churn out military units and Wonders a lot faster than if there is civil unrest. And youíd better make sure your cities are well defended because nothing can screw you up faster than an unexpected attack from barbarian hordes. Make sure you use defensive units to safeguard your cities (and city walls donít hurt either) and send the offensive units to defend your borders. Settler units should always be on the move, laying down roads, irrigating the land or mining for ore. Roads allow units to travel further during their turn and also enhance trade between cities. Trade and commerce are especially important if you want to maintain your military and cities. The place is totally open to your own strategies.




Maybe thatís the aspect of Civilization that makes it so playable Ė the player gets to do what he wants to do instead of trying to decipher what the designer had in mind. Heck, you can even name your cities! The design is so open-ended you will never have the same experience twice. Every time a new game is started, random landmasses are generated and everything is cloaked in darkness until you reveal the terrain so youíre never 


sure exactly where you or anyone else is. Itís totally up to each individual player how to proceed, but those looking for success will strike a balance between expansion and consolidating wins by improving cities. (And never underestimate your wise men Ė their discoveries often spell the difference between failure and success.) Itís a tough job, even on the easiest difficulty setting. Only the absolute pros, people that know exactly what to build and who to ally with, will attempt the higher difficulty settings. You have to keep track of everything too, and when your civilization hits more than a dozen cities youíll find yourself scrambling at times. Scrambling in a turn-based game is not often seen, but Civilization manages to get your adrenaline pumping nearly every turn. Itís this adrenaline that keeps you playing right until the end Ė whatever the outcome. The computer AI is decent but borders on Satanic on the Emperor difficulty level. Sometimes they will ally amongst themselves against you and launch hit-and-run attacks on coastal cities. They never stand idle though. Theyíre always improving themselves waiting for an opportune moment to drop the hammer on a new-found city.

The graphics, although considered primitive by todayís standards, were outstanding in 1991, a time when simple VGA was King. The units are simple enough and large enough that you always know what units youíre looking at. The city views are excellent, especially when you emphasize three or four cities to produce all your Wonders. And donít forget that you get to "create" your own little hovel out of three different styles. Mixing styles is possible, producing some whacked-out looking buildings. Your hovel indicates in general terms how well youíre doing. At the "conclusion" of the game you get a chance to view your statistics and even watch a replay of how the game went. The replays can be saved to disk and shown to friends later on, which is a useful tool in maintaining bragging rights. I put conclusion in quotes because after 6,000 years (if you survive that long) you have the option to retire or keep playing until all the other civilizations are wiped out. Nothing is more satisfying than crushing the opposition Ė Iíve never been able to simply retire and leave it at that. I want to see the pained expressions of the great leaders after my mechanized armies wipe out their Chariots and Cavalry defenses! Or at least reach space or find a cure for cancer, which are both noble goals, too.

Sound isnít that important in Civilization. Most games can be played with the speakers turned off and the stereo cranked with your favorite tunes. You lose nothing when playing without the sound.

The interface is rock solid. The keyboard / mouse control has no holes in it. Itís dead simple to learn which is a nice surprise considering all the things you can do in Civilization. The simplicity of the controls make it extremely easy to get into the game Ė eliminating any distractions like, "Which button does that again?"

Absolutely fun and addictive, dig up an old copy of Civilization and see how near-perfection looks.

- Omni


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