Overall (not an average):
Developer: Firaxis Games
Platform: PC (Win 95/98/Me/2000)
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
In the movie business, it is a rare thing when sequels are as good as the original. But in the video game industry, the reverse is true. One of the latest examples is Civilization 3, the turn-based world conquering strategy game from Sid Meier. For those who think Pong is the height of computer games, the Civilization series has you start with a band of settlers that found a city. You gather resources, build city improvements, research scientific progress, train troops, and interact with other nations through diplomacy and warfare. Through building Great Wonders, committing espionage, and trading luxury goods, you work to make your civilization the greatest in the world. This game has special significance to me because this was the first game I ever stayed up all night playing. I remember thinking, “Why is the sun up? It’s only…Damn!”
In the third version, there are many improvements and changes. The game interface is greatly improved. You no longer have to go through tons of screens to change production or see which city is producing more. Information is available either through a status bar at the bottom or is easily accessed by a button on the screen. The newest change in Civilization 3 is the concept of culture. The boundaries of your cities grow according to how many and how old certain city buildings are (libraries, cathedrals, temples, etc.). This changes how you build your cities and where you place them. Trading and diplomacy are made more complex and flexible. You can ask for another’s nation world map and extra gems for your knowledge of Gunpowder and 100 gold, for example. There are also options for trade embargoes, right of passage treaties, and strategic alliances. Resources are far more important. If you want to build, say a tank in one of your cities, that city must be connected to a city that has oil and rubber resources under its zone of control. This complication adds new variations and possibilities to Civilization gameplay. In fact, most of the changes and improvements make the experienced player throw out the old ideas and makes the game new and interesting again.
Civilization 3 is great, but it is not perfect. The graphics and sounds are good, but considering the level these are reaching currently elsewhere, they could have been better. Once you get to the Modern Age stage of the game, you still have the problem of coordinating a huge amount of cities and all their problems. And the Modern Era seems a bit light in Great Wonders and improvements compared to the rest of the game. Concepts like the use of fertilizer, television, and genetic engineering could have playable impact, but seem ignored. Even with these complaints, you will still suffer from Just-One-More-Turn Syndrome. Civilization 3 is one game to lose sleep over.
Minimum System Requirements:
- Pentium II 300 or faster
- Windows 95 or better
- 32 MB RAM
- DirectX 7.0 compatible video and sound cards
- 100 MB disk space