Throughout the more or less great years of gaming there’s been a series of games that people have basically adored. Sid Meier is the man behind them, the series called Civilization. The previously games are classics, even though the addons didn’t sell quite as much as the main games. Regardless, it’s 2001 and the third instalment has been released. A lot of my friends have never really liked turn-based strategy, mainly because it doesn’t offer as much instant action, because it requires one to actually use the brain more than just using the main strategy of "build A LOT of the strongest unit and attack". To be honest, before I started playing the game I felt somewhat the same, because turn-based strategy games are not the ones that dominate the market.
In Civilization 3 there is one main game mode. You play on an area where you can specify climate, age and temperature along with landmass and water coverage, against 7 nations such as Rome, Greece, Germany, China, America, and Zululand. They all have two specialities, which are industry, commerce, religion, expansion, military and science. Depending on the nation you choose you are given a certain advantage when the game begins, being two completed sciences.
As you progress in the game you research new sciences and basically do whatever is needed to get ahead of other nations. A nice feature is that there are many ways of winning the game, like domination, diplomatic, cultural, space rest, conquest and civ specific abilities. This way you can work on whatever strategy you are lacking at, or making it easier by choosing whatever you are good at. In my case I lost my first game because I built too few cities but built a great deal of wonders. I lost because domination was one of the ways to win, so by 2050 (which is when the battle ends, but you can continue for fun afterwards) I lost. One of the things that are important to remember when playing the game is that you can begin on a rather small island while the enemy begins on a larger one, so that way it is important to build cities on multiple islands.
I could go on about strategy hints, but since this is a review I will move on to the graphics. I might write a guide sometime in the future, who knows.
This is a rather tough segment of the review to write because of Civilization's nature of using the isometric view with pretty outdated graphics. In fact, the graphics have not changed from the second to the third game. However, instead of calling the graphics "crappy" or whatever you fancy there is a factor that needs to be looked at. Does the graphics give you a good overview of the units? Yes. Does the graphics allow you to quickly manoeuvre around the map and control units quickly? Yes. Has this kind of graphics worked in the previous games? Yes. And does it work as well in 2001? Well, both yes and no. To a strategist who does not care a great deal about "fancy schmancy" graphics, most certainly. But to the fan who likes modern real-time strategy games, probably not.
I bought my Geforce 3 card for nice effects when large things blow up (among other things), but I did not have much of a problem playing Civilization 3. It is just the kind of game where you do not expect big explosions, vertex / pixel shaders and volumetric clouds, which is what you are not getting.
The Music / Sounds
If you have played one of the Civilization games before you should know that a game can last a really really long time. I am sure I am not the only one who can be driven insane if you have to listen to annoying repetitive music in the background. When you are calmly building your nation and minding your own business there is calm and nice music in the background, whereas there is more adrenaline pumping music when you are moving your big ol' tanks to take over London or whatever you would not mind ruling.
The general quality of both the music and the sounds is pretty much as good as you would expect. Orchestra music and realistic sound effects when doing something noteworthy.
Now this is where Civilization 3 really shines. This is strategy at its very finest. Controlling the entire game is simple once you have learned the basics. In Civilization 3 a tank could be beaten by many of a very weak unit, but that is changed now. Every unit is not as strong as the other though, but there are many factors that need to be remembered when attacking. For instance, if a unit has the ability to move two times you always need to attack on the first move. This way the unit is less tired when arriving to the combat, thus making it more likely that he would win. Secondly, there are grades for each unit, being "regular", "veteran" and "elite". Thirdly you have to consider the terrain you are attacking from and the terrain the victim is standing in. So that way you could win in a mountain ambush against a veteran soldier with a regular soldier. This should demonstrate that there are many variables in each and every feature of the game, making the game quite a challenge.
Speaking of which, the artificial intelligence of the enemies is nothing more than great, and you will experience how you are attacking in the most devious ways when you least expect it.
I feel it is peculiar how there actually was a multiplayer mode in Civilization 2: Test of Time, but not in this game, the sequel. I was actually very much looking forward to playing the game on a LAN with friends, perhaps devoting an entire night to it.
Score: 0 of 10.
Sid Meier once again proves that real strategy can be fun and challenging. Civilization 3 is now one of my all-time favourite strategy games, and should be played by anyone who likes strategy and who can live without fancy graphics and multiplayer.