Call to Power II
When Activision lost the developer behind Civilization 2, but maintained the right to the name, they decided to release Civilization: Call to Power. While Civilization, and its sequel, are viewed as two of the best games in history, was viewed as a problematic, slightly better looking, rehash of what came before. With Call to Power II (CTP2), the word "Civilization" has been completely dropped from the title, but don’t let that fool you into thinking major changes are afoot. For a game that is all about human advancements, there are very few advancements of any kind in this game.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
As with all the Civilization games that came before it, Call to Power II is about bringing your civilization from the dawn of time to a future utopia. You can win the game several ways: through advancements, by destroying all your rivals, or by making peace worldwide. The gameplay takes place in a turn-based fashion, with you establishing cities and then building units (to defend, fight, explorer, trade, etc.), improvements (making your city run more efficiently), or wonders (large scale buildings with large scale benefits). Along the way different scientific research will affect what you can build or the way your political (and theological) views will change your people’s lives.
As impressive of a premise as CTP2 has, if you’ve ever played any of the Civilization games, it is all pretty much the same. Even though the way trading works in the game has been streamlined, mayors can be assigned to run the daily operations of individual cities, and the new diplomatic relations screen works great, it still feels very stale and boring. I don’t know what I expected out of CTP2, but a little more innovation would have been nice. Some more control over individual battles, more era-specific or civilization-specific units and buildings, or even a more dynamic way to chart your progress would have been welcome (at least Civilization 2 had your throne room to decorate and track your progress, as long as you kept your people happy). Oh well.
It should be mentioned that there is multiplayer support included as well with CTP2, and although I did not have a chance to try it, it appears to be similar to the multiplayer experience of the previous versions.
The graphics in CTP2 are much-improved over the previous versions, which only means that they are adequate. Sure, a turn-based strategy game doesn’t need to stagger the ocular nerves, but some more visual fireworks would have at least kept me interested in creating new units to see what they could do. Even the videos (the opening cinema scene and the small ones that run when you create a new wonder) are very low in quality, visually if not content-wise. Maybe they did this to ensure the game could run on a low-end system, but couldn’t there at least be an option for something better? Please sir, I want some more.
The music in CTP2 is actually quite good, with many different ethnic styles that are calming one moment and grandiose the next. The sound effects the little units make are neither funny, nor striking, but merely sufficient.
Pentium 166Mhz, 64MB RAM, 320MB Hard Drive space.
If you have never played any Civilization game before, I could heartily recommend Call to Power II. It is definitely the best version of a Civilization game I’ve ever played, with better graphics, better trade and diplomacy screens, and more units, buildings, and wonders. If you have played any of the others, then you better be a hardcore fan to appreciate the essentially unchanged gameplay, with just a squinch of anything new and different. I’m apparently not a big enough fan so I'm giving it 73.