Sid Meier’s Civilization III
|Developer:||Firaxis Games East|
|Genres:||Strategy / Turn-Based Strategy|
|Release Date:||October 31, 2001|
The rise of Civilization.
Sid Meier and his crew left MicroProse in 1996 and formed Firaxis Games, and with that any chance of a proper sequel to Civilization II seemed long lost. After all, the license was caught up in a mess of lawsuits, and Firaxis was hard at work on Alpha Centauri, a game that many folks thought would be the closest we’d ever get to a true extension of the Civilization series. It’s only fortunate everyone realized the huge cash-cow they were missing out on, so an agreement was cobbled together that would let everyone involved create the highly anticipated third Civilization game.
The basic premise behind Civilization 3 remains unchanged from the previous games — pick one of 16 civilizations and build from the stone age to the modern age without being destroyed by the other civilizations. Each of these civilizations is different, and it lets you complement your playing style. Your ultimate goal is one of five victory conditions, including Diplomatic Victory, Space Victory, and the new Cultural Victory
One of the largest new tweaks is the introduction of a culture rating determined by such factors as how many wonders you’ve built and how many city improvements you’ve constructed. For example, as your cultural influence increases, nearby towns from a civilization with a weaker culture will join your civilization. (On the flip side, if your culture is weak, your cities will rebel and leave your empire.) The strength of your culture also impacts relationships with foreign leaders.
Another substantial change that Civilization 3 introduces involves securing raw materials. Forever gone are the days when you could simply research “motorized transportation” and start pumping out tanks. Now, in order to build certain units, you’ll need a supply of raw materials such as oil, rubber, or uranium. And since raw materials don’t appear on the map until the corresponding technology is researched, it’s possible to find yourself with lots of researched technologies but no way to build advanced units.
This gameplay change is a touch of genius because it means you’re forced to negotiate with other civilizations for raw materials that aren’t readily available in your own backyard. International trade matters now. And if you anger the wrong civilization, they’ll try to negotiate trade embargoes against you and cut your supply of raw materials. During a war, you can destroy any enemy roads or railroad tracks that connect a civilization to vital raw materials and slowly take them out by attrition, which adds more strategic depth to the conflicts.
As for the actual gameplay, it’s flat-out brilliant. The AI-powered civilizations do a great job of fending you off, especially on the diplomatic front. Once I had declared war on Russia, and settled on a ceasefire so I could reinforce my positions. When I re-declared war, I was shocked to find that Russia had formed new alliances against me! All of the game has small surprises like this, and the only real dent here is the lack of multiplayer. That complaint aside, Civ 3 is just as clever and engaging as its predecessor, merging tried and tested ideas from the past with fresh gameplay features.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95