Sid Meier's Civilization quickly became another one of Sid Meier's great accomplishments. Sid Meier's Civilization II featured the needed improvements to make it an instant classic. Civilization II: Multiplayer Gold Edition added online play and came packaged with a lot of scenarios. Civilization II: Test of Time turns out to be the same game as the gold edition with some minor changes.
When the game first loads, fans of the series will notice some changes. Menus all include black backgrounds giving the game a dark feel. A few more options are now available at the main menu since the game can be played a few ways now -- original, extended original, sci-fi, and fantasy. Nothing has changed significantly though so if you have played any of the previous versions there is no need to read the instruction manual.
Once the game begins players will discover an improved look, mostly for the better. The map is more detailed now and almost everything is animated. Squares with special items like bananas or a pheasant will be animated. Bananas repeatedly peel themselves while the pheasant will peck at the ground and flap their tail feathers. Little details like this are certainly a welcome addition but don't influence the gameplay any. Along with the map, all of the units have been animated as well. Riflemen fire their guns and a caravel's sails will blow in the wind. Death sequences are animated too depending on the unit. Some units simply explode while a unit such as the elephant topples over. Also, many of the units contain more detail. Actually, some have so much more detail that they look completely different.
So the graphical improvements are a nice touch, but they are not spectacular. Other than that Civilization II: Test of Time plays exactly like previous versions. The extension of the original game and the other two new games do add some replay value but not enough to give the game a great review. Many of the new inclusions feel more like window dressing than anything else and there is not enough reason to warrant a purchase if you own the gold edition.
While this game is, for the most part, an improvement over the original, there are quite a few things missing. You no longer can witness the council bickering; there is no throne room to upgrade; and gone are the animated introductions on the diplomatic screens. These missing items are not a big deal but it is still a disappoinment that they are not here. However, there is one major item missing: the map editor. One of the best features of previous editions was the ability to create your own maps. Those of us who own past versions can still create and import maps if we leave one of the past versions on our hard drive. Unfortunately, players new to the series will miss out on this enjoyable feature.
Graphics: Considering Sid Meier's Civilization II was released in 1996, the graphical improvements were a long time coming and should have been better than they are. Still, the new animations add some entertainment to the battles.
Sound: Some new music is included, but the old music was much better. Unit actions have much improved sound effects over earlier editions.
Enjoyment: The game is still as much fun as the original. It is easy to become addicted to and playing for hours at a time is a given. However, gameplay is nothing new to fans of the series.
Replay Value: Every game is very long and plenty of options are available. The map editor is absent though -- very disappointing.
People who downloaded Civilization II: Test of Time have also downloaded:
Civilization 2, Civilization: Call to Power, Civilization, Sid Meier's Civilization 3, Sid Meier's Civilization IV, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Call to Power 2, Age of Empires III
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