#304 Civilization II

Posted: 26th July 2012 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

165th played so far

Genre: Strategy
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1996
Developer: MicroProse
Publisher: MicroProse

There’s some games that, when they come up in our random selection, fill me with both anticipation and dread. We had a good time playing Civilization, but it took a long time… partially a ‘one more turn’ thing, partially the need to play this game to completion.

Now, I know Civilization II quite well – I’ve played it plenty andit’s been a bit of an addiction. Since then, however, newer installments came along and improved on the formula, including the semi-sequel Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. A step back?

Our Thoughts

(I really have nothing much to say here that Jeroen hasn’t said: I’ll be more vocal when we eventually get to Civilization IV)

The basics of the game remain the same as the first Civilization (which is why this may be a bit shorter than normal). A lot of the changes are minor tweaks – different prerequisites, an expanded tech tree, some units and buildings added here and there. Sure, nice little changes, but if you’ve played the first game, the second is easy to pick up and understand.

The main improvement in the game comes from the graphics. The series switched to an isometric perspective and gives the graphics a makeover, making them look more detailed and crisp than seen in the first game. Still, these remain relatively simple and repetitive (more so than the more fluid Alpha Centauri) and don’t offer much extra now. It’s a bit clearer what’s what, but that’s mostly it.

Sound’s improved slightly, but not too notable – sound effects are still rare. Not really rare rare since whenever there is a battle or whenever you finish researching something there is a sound effect but there isn’t really much in the way of an ambient soundtrack.

One bigger visual addition are movies. The game is punctuated by several of these – such as when building a wonder, as game introduction, and to accompany certain win conditions. These are simple and not always well done, but they provide a bit more emotion to an otherwise simple game. Note, however, that we couldn’t get these to work on Windows 7 – I just know them from previous playthroughs where the acting was truly atrocious… much like the movies in SimCity.

In terms of the interface, there have been some nice improvements too. The DOS-based Civilization was limited in mouse interaction. Civilization II is, instead, fully Windows-based and seemed to have been using that quite closely. Rather than the custom interfaces seen in most games, Civ II feels like a skinned Windows application – still with plenty changed, but you get things like separate windows and a normal menu bar. Primitive on some level maybe – it certainly looks simple – but it actually works well for a game like this.

There’s some weirdness in the game. Pathfinding is atrocious, with us having seen units go east to reach a city that was a few squares west, and enemy caravans being stuck between two places until we built a second path to get them further. AI is slow (both in terms of speed and intelligence) and not very aggressive. These don’t really get in your way, but are just annoying enough to bother you.

Final Thoughts

In the end, this game is about ruling and building a civilization to stand the test of time and take over the world – by conquest or more enlightened means. While there are many small niggles there, these goals remain and they’re well playable. Our too long special (past midnight again!) proves as much. I really was flagging by the end of it.

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