Sid Meier's Colonization will remind you a great deal of its predecessor Civilization. There is enough difference, however, to make it stand on its own merits as an interesting and addictive strategy game. The premise is familiar to those who have played similar "world-building" games before. In this instance, you play as one of four colonial powers (English, Dutch, French or Spanish) in search of a New World where you can establish your colony, manage numerous resources, deal with natives of the land you settle as well as warring factions of competing European nations and ultimately break loose from the home country through a revolution to gain independence. As expected in any Sid Meier's game, Colonization offers a huge number of game play options and multiple decision-making choices to help you mold your fledgling colony into an economic and military power.
First and foremost, Colonization is a numbers game. Strategy abounds but so does the sheer number of components available in building your colony. For example, on the helpful reference chart that comes with the game, you can count 38 possible buildings, each with required construction costs and effects, 22 unique skills (including Outdoorsmen and Craftsmen), 12 different terrain possibilities, each with specific production values assigned, 4 general units (wagon train, colonist, scout, treasure train), 4 native units (brave, armed brave, mounted brave, mounted warrior), 10 distinct military units, 6 specific naval units and 4 types of forts. All of these components are intricately interwoven and your management skills will determine the level of your success. As the game progresses, you earn liberty bells (an icon for freedom support) that impact many factors (rebel sentiment, Sons of Liberty (a group dedicated to protecting rights against the Crown), and a Continental Congress that can include 25 real-life historical figures) in determining your ultimate success when declaring independence through revolution. The number of bells you produce has a direct relationship (percentage-wise) to the strength of support you receive from these various factions in your eventual War for Independence.
Management of Colonization is done through various pulldown menus. Multiple options for giving orders, managing colonists (moving units, trading, building, combat, etc.), viewing settlements, purchasing weaponry and ships, recruiting colonists, hiring mercenaries and various other tools are available in European, Colony and Map Display screens. An extended repertoire of musical tunes of varied lengths, each associated with specific functions and an extensive cache of sound effects add a subtle background flavor to the game. The interface is smooth and the artificial intelligence is very good (and improves with each level of difficulty you choose). 2-D graphics are simplistic, though colorful, and distinguishing unit icon features can only be discerned with practice and a close eye for detail (for example the difference between a dragoon and a veteran dragoon is about a dozen or so pixel color changes).
The game's major problem is a "too many units" bug that not only prevents you from creating military troops, but which also deletes the horses and weapons needed for your soldiers. This makes the late game often unplayable. Another problem is that Indian warriors become almost invincible after they obtain horses. If in the late game you have Indian villages near your settlements, you'll likely suffer significant loses from Indian raids without much ability to fight back.
If you're a fan of complex, resource management, exploration and world-building games that mix strategic administrative decisions with elements of wargaming, Colonization offers hundreds of hours of gameplay.
Graphics: Substance of the artwork is good but low resolution results in blocky pixelated icons and an uninspired landscape look.
Sound: Good marks for large selection of musical tunes and sound effects plus the option to turn them down or off.
Enjoyment: Addictive. Immersive. Fun. Whether you play for the ultimate goal of winning independence or just like building a world from scratch, Colonization can be a rich and rewarding experience.
Replay Value: Replay as any one of four nationalities (with five distinct difficulty levels), each with its own political and historic advantages and disadvantages. Myriad of decision-making choices and options makes replay value enormous.
People who downloaded Colonization have also downloaded:
Colonization for Windows, Civilization 2, Civilization, Civilization: Call to Power, Civilization II: Test of Time, Command & Conquer, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Command & Conquer: Red Alert
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