Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Civilization II have long been the benchmark against which all other turn-based strategy games have been measured. Who knows how many sick days, all-nighters, and strained relationships have been attributed to Sid Meier‘s creations. Since the original Civilization I & II, Sid Meier, along with Brian Reynolds and Jeff Briggs, left Microprose and founded Firaxis Games in 1996. Even though Firaxis does not have the legal rights to produce the sequel to Civilization, there is no denying that this is exactly what it is.and
begins where _Civilization _left off, hurtling humanity in a spaceship called the Unity towards a neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri. All the crewmembers are cryogenically frozen en route, only to be wakened on arrival by the ship’s computers. That all sounds fine and dandy until the Unity gets damaged in an apparent collision with an asteroid, and all hell breaks loose. By the time the Unity arrives at the Earth-like planet Chiron in the Alpha Centauri system, the crew has broken off into seven different factions. The factions each have their own unique beliefs, morals and priorities. For example, Gaia’s Stepdaughters, led by Lady Deirdre Skye, are environmentalists who are determined to prevent the environmental mistakes made on Earth. Morgan Industries, led by CEO Nwabudike Morgan, are dedicated to capitalist economic principles that will surely conflict with Gaia’s Stepdaughters later on down the road. Other factions include religious, science, military and survivalist philosophie s. There is also the UN Peacekeeping faction that supports the humanitarian principles of the United Nations of Earth.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
You can choose to be the leader of any of the seven factions at any one of six difficulty levels. Your first order of business, after your colony pod lands on the planet’s surface, is to explore your surroundings and build additional bases. Each base you build will create redefined borders of your acquired territory. Eventually, as you expand your territory, you will come into contact with other factions -- or more accurately, they will come into contact with you. All too often, a faction will contact you bragging about its newly founded technology such as a planetbuster weapon and politely ask for a large sum of credits to maintain your status as ‘friends!’ It would have been nice to see a bit more differences in the factions when it comes to personalities and aggressiveness. This grid-based game is not all diplomacy, however; using your bases to research new technology or build military units can also help deter other factions from threatening you. It is also necessary to harvest resources from the planet. Planting forests or kelp farms and mining minerals are just a few ways to bolster your empire. Dealing with the other factions should not be your only concern. A large percentage of the planet is covered in a red Xenofungus on land and its water equivalent, Sea Fungus, that can cause further problems in developing squares. Less friendly planet inhabitants include the Mind Worm, a little parasitic carnivore that can burrow into a human brain and devour it. There is also an ocean equivalent to the Mind Worm, the Isle of the Deep, and the airborne cousins, the Locusts of Chiron. Where is your Quake II BFG-10K when you need it? There is a seemingly endless amount of research that can be done to better your faction. Science, military, social and economic discoveries can be made by researching, just to name a few.
There are four ways to win Alpha Centauri. If you can win three-fourths of the votes from the other faction leaders to elect you as the Supreme Leader of the planet, you will have won via the diplomatic route. Economic victory is accomplished by cornering the Global Energy Market. The highest form of victory is the Ascent to Transcendence, the next step in the evolution of humanity. The final way to win is the good old-fashioned Conquest method, by eliminating all other remaining factions. When you figure the ability to choose the seven different factions, four ways to win, and all the different research paths that can be taken, the replayability of this game is enormous.
Unless you have a large monitor, you may have problems making out the fairly compressed grids that become even more difficult to see when they get heavily populated with various units. There are full-motion video sequences that you are shown after a major discovery has been made or if you have annihilated a warring faction.
The exchange of gun/missile fire and resulting explosions are about the full extent of the audio capabilities. There is some uninspiring background music and various faction readings that are narrated to you at various points between turns.
Pentium 133 MHz or higher, Windows 95/98, 16 MB RAM, 60 MB free hard drive space, 4X CD-ROM drive, DirectX 6 compatible video card (2MB).
A very thorough and detailed 250-page manual is included. It would have been nice if it were wire bound so it would stay open to the right page; I was constantly having to bend it backwards and balance my coffee cup on it to keep it open (a rather dangerous practice near a computer keyboard, I might add!). There is also a large foldout poster of the technology tree that is way too large for your desktop. A smaller 6"x15" foldout card would have been better.
Make no mistake about it, this is the game most Civilization lovers have been longing for. If you enjoyed Civilization I or II and are ready for a sequel, this is it. If you are one of the very few who found Civilization a little on the slow, boring, "I want my Quake back" side, Alpha Centauri is not for you.