Sid Meier's Civilization breadth of scope is simply awe inspiring, as it purports to capture all of human history within just one game.
The game's graphics and sounds are functional but unremarkable. Cities are squares colored to denote their owner with a number corresponding to population size. Undefended cities have light borders while garrisoned cities are dark bordered. Individual military unit types are represented by unique icons and range from a soldier depicting the basic infantryman squad to more advanced units like tanks and fighters. Terrain and resource types on the map are represented effectively but without any graphical flair. Music and sound effects are likewise simply functional. But, once you start playing, all the mediocrity disappears, as Sid Meier's Civilization's brilliance of gameplay transcends it all.
The gameplay model is fantastic in its simplicity, yet manages to offer incredible depth. You're the leader of a civilization starting out in prehistory and must organize your people by settling colonists in new areas to found cities, researching technologies and managing the government. Along the way, you'll meet the leaders of other civilizations who are trying to do the same. Of course, as with all situations involving different factions, conflicts arise. You may be able to coexist with your neighbors for some time but, eventually, you will have to build an army.
Through it all, the game's interface is easy and user friendly. You simply choose what each city should be building and how its working population is deployed. You then move on to other cities and do the same. If something requiring your attention happens, the game will inform you so you can deal with it. But, there's no auto-management option. At the beginning of the game, it doesn't matter since you only have a few military units and cities. But in the latter stages of the game, where you could be controlling dozens of cities and a hundred or so units, turns can get a little tedious. The lack of any sort of effective diplomacy is also unfortunate. Games invariably end with the late era tank and bomber rush, accompanied by naval units if necessary. You can also win by building a spaceship but it takes more time than a simple conquest and isn't as rewarding.
The game's simplicity is also a bit confining. Would be megalomaniacal world conquerors won't be satisfied with the skimpy choice of soldiers. Once you get to the modern era of research, you have only one viable offensive land unit, the tank. You can back that up with bomber raids but at the end of the day, it's still just a tank. Oddly, the game features a full arsenal of naval units even though players and the CPU tend to neglect naval combat most of the time.
But those problems can, for the most part, be forgiven. Sid Meier's Civilization is not intended to be an exercise in micro-management and military realism. Instead, it's an effective and compelling epic sweeping take on all of human history. In that sense, the game succeeds admirably.
Graphics: Average graphics using icons to depict everything on screen.
Enjoyment: Deeply engrossing gameplay with the perfect mix of macro- and micro-management.
Replay Value: With random maps, the game has infinite replay value.
People who downloaded Civilization have also downloaded:
Civilization 2, Sid Meier's Civilization 3, Civilization: Call to Power, Civilization II: Test of Time, Colonization for Windows, Sid Meier's Civilization IV, Age of Empires, Caesar 3
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