In the Forums...
Posted: March 13, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
And they said it couldn't be done...
Sid Meier has outdone himself again with the newest episode in his series of epic strategy games. While not a true "sequel" to his strategy hit Civilization 2, it continues the story of that game with the landing of the colonists that you launch into space in one of the endings of Civ 2. The game itself starts with a story that tells you that the captain of the mission died during the trip and that the crew has broken up into 7 opposing factions, all bent on conquering each other and proclaiming themselves the ruler of the creatively named "Planet".
Performance & Features
This is probably the only area of the game which could use a bit of tweaking - it was horrendously slow at 1024x768 and there is no in-game way of changing the resolution. Early in the game the speed is acceptable; but once you have the vast resources and equipment you gain near the end of the game, the game slows down considerably. Other than this oversight, the game is a full (fuller than any other that I've seen) featured strategy game.
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Not into world domination? Try diplomacy on for size. Make pacts, treaties, wage economic sanctions, and more. Are you a money man? Hell, you want money, you got money. Just remember to use that hard earned cash to keep your Faction one step ahead of the others.
Or perhaps you are a techno-freak. More interested in the pursuit of knowledge than the all-mighty dollar? That's cool, you can win that way too. Just remember, even advance has its price.
Keep in mind, there's no "best way" to win.
The game documentation and in-game tutorials were sufficiently good enough to dramatically effect the high learning curve of the game. Just remember that you should expect to play through a few trial missions before entirely getting the hang of the game.
Play & Replayability
This looks to be the game that will dethrone Civ 2 as the most popular strategy game. Not only does it have all of the addicting replayability qualities of the original Civ 2, it also has multiplayer functionality that far exceeds the multiplayer function that was finally introduced to Civ 2 in its gold edition packaging. The game does suffer from some of the same problems that Civ 2 did, however. Later in the game it develops into a tedium of moving forces constantly, which can be annoying to say the least.
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No complaints here, except for that sometimes things go too slowly. Even when you have fast unit moving enabled it approaches tedium at higher resolutions. The game's graphics are definitely impressive.
I encountered a few glitches while playing this game. Only two of them were detrimental to playability, one of which was that the game sometimes failed to notify me when an air unit would crash. The other was a glitch after one of the movies that set me into a sound loop (similar to when a game crashes on you). The game was still playable but I had to wait for the next movie clip to clear the sound buffer. Also, while not detrimental to play, when there is a lot of movement on the screen the text ticker that gives you miscellaneous info, (such as how many credits you got off of that boil you just killed) would stall. The game corrected this mistake itself.
During my review I was playing the game as released, I didn't install any of the patches. The v2.0 patch is "supposed" to have taken care of some of the glitches I just mentioned, although I have yet to experiment with it. Of course, I was able to complete the game without loading any patches or using any workarounds... something that is seldom seen in the gaming world today.
Alpha Centauri is a great strategy game that has a vast appeal. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a game with a little bit of thinking involved.