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Civilization III is the best thing in strategy games since Civ II. If you are a nut for this genre then you are gonna love this game. The game has the principles of solid design, sleek interface, sharp artwork, unlimited replayability, open architecture, and epic storytelling. Sid Meier and Firaxis have come up with a masterpiece yet again.

When I started the game I actually was a bit disappointed since the game looked more like an addon pack to Civ II. But as I got deeper into the gameplay, the new subtle changes seemed to elevate gameplay to a new level. This is the third installment in a trilogy of great games starting with the original Sid Meier's Civilization.

The game plays a bit like Alpha Centauri I garner. But unlike Alpha Centauri this game's civilizations aren't as distinctly different as of the previous' factions. Don't get me wrong though, Civilization III just borrows a few aspects from Alpha Centauri, this game isn't a makeover. The game's various civilizations each have a unique unit and two "strengths" that give them special advantages. The unique units, which are really just stronger versions of common units, are useful for only a limited time. 

But "strengths" are a whole new aspect to the game. Each civilization has two  strengths, depending on that gameplay varies. Since one civilization has a particular strength it's easier and cheaper to build certain important buildings whereas with another civilization it might me more expensive or harder. The game builds itself up depending on your choice of civilization.

Alpha Centauri introduced the concept of the living map and national borders, and Civ III tweaked it. Cities you built grow in cultural attainments depending on what you build in the city. An ancient city with say a coliseum, a cathedral and a library will accumulate a lot more culture than say a small village with a smaller temple. Accumulation of cultural heritage is important because it expands your borders and engulfs nearby cities. It's almost "Californication" or "Hollywood-izing".  It's a form of conquest with sitcoms, music, and priests rather than soldiers. 

The map in Civ III is a very important part of gameplay as you would find out if you say cut a certain stretch of road or blockade a particular harbor. That would plunge an entire civilization into panic or shut down the production of tanks, airplanes, and railroads. Roads, railways, harbors, and airports connect your cities to each other and let you import goods from other civilizations.

The computer's artificial intelligence is formidable. The AI if you ask me acts weird most of the times actually (you will what I mean when you play the game), but in the end it provides a tough challenge. The AI recognizes the importance of resources, it will decimate you by attacking in numbers. Funny part is that alliances and overall diplomacy is a long and very fragile process - like the real world I guess. Anyways so battles can take enormous proportions with the whole world fighting and world peace going out the window.

it includes a comprehensive scenario editor, serious players are going to be cranking out mods and scenarios that give Civ III almost impossibly long legs. You'd be hard pressed to imagine a game with more replay value than this. There's no question that this a perfect holiday treat for longtime strategy gamers. But the game tries hard not to alienate newbies and does it to considerable success. For starters the game climbs the technology tree at a gradual understanding pace, the tech tree itself has been simplified. There is much less swaying and straying as you progress. It provides enough choices for the newbies while keeping the whole aspect focused for experts and hardcore fans. Things such as aircraft, trade, and espionage are also streamlined. The combat system is flexible and intuitive, presenting numerous options for combined arms without throwing a bunch of stats at the player. There are simple rules for complex ideas, such as defensive artillery fire, zones of control, retreats, air superiority, and unit experience. The interface keeps the map under your nose whenever possible. Overall, the game is easy to manage. Civ III is perfect for casual and new players. It won't scare off people who might just be considering their first epic strategy game.

Civilization III has done almost nothing to solve the problem of increasing complexity as the game goes on. Civilizations sprawl and brim over with units. Managing your workers and terrain improvements can get complicated and tedious. Pollution is still an exercise in workers scuttling to and fro. City management and terrain improvement can be turned over to the computer, but you'll get weird situations. The computer takes well more than a minute between turns. This will tax the patience of even serious gamers, so it's hard to imagine casual gamers putting up with it. To its credit, however, the new victory conditions in Civilization III mean you won't necessarily be shuffling units until the bitter end.

The graphics and artwork, which are charming and varied, should do a good job of hooking you in. The map looks great, striking the perfect balance between being zoomed in close enough to look attractive and being zoomed far out enough to be useful. Animated units fight battles and cheer when they win. Cities, citizens, and advisors are updated as a game progresses through the different ages. It's gratifying to see your city grow into brick buildings and then skyscrapers. 

On the city list, the option to sort cities doesn't work. Also, Civ III doesn't offer any decent way to find specific resources, cities, or units.

That's about it. The biggest problems with the game is a few interface issues. That's to say that this is a great game coupled with good solid design and old school strategic fun. Check this game out, it may not be a pioneer but sure as heck it can be a savior or say a reviver.


Game Info

Game Name: Civilization III

Genre: Strategy.
Publisher: Infogrames.
Reviewed by:
Mail him.

Game Score: [Five lightning rating]

Story / Plot:
Reviewer's Tilt :

Game Tested on:

- PIII 800 Mhz
- 128 MB RAM
- GeForce II
- Windows ME

The Good: Gameplay, Graphics, Interface,  storyline, sounds, Replayability
The Bad: Micromanagement at the later stages of the game.
The Ugly: Sid Meier has his name on the title...again!

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