Sid Meier's Civilization 3: Conquests
Though Genius as a single-player game, Civilization III has never quite attained the same levels of excellence on the multiplayer circuit. The main problem with the existing Play The World multiplayer expansion pack is it takes just too damn long to play. In fact, the closest you get to a quick online skirmish is a 15-hour marathon. People (at least those with jobs and lives) simply aren't prepared to stick around that long.
Enter Civ III: Conquests. This second expansion pack condenses the multiplayer game into a much more manageable time frame, while also presenting a much more 'in your face' single-player experience. In fact, after trying out a few of the game's nine new campaigns it appears that you'll usually have to spare no more than 90 minutes on any of the scenarios.
Historical accuracy, very much a buzzword in strategy games at the moment, is also ramped up in Conquests. Campaigns cover such monumental points in history as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Mayans' mysterious rise to power in South America and a detailed feudal Japan scenario providing the chance to fight against 18 other clans in a race to become Shogun.
These lovingly crafted chunks of human history boast accurate new technology options, with tech trees tailored to individual civilizations, and painstakingly realistic maps. Crucially, they also provide action from the off. There's no pussy-footing around expanding your empire and flirting cautiously with your Neanderthal neighbours. Borders, alliances and all the intricacies that usually take ages to sort out are already established. As a result, gameplay is streamlined to ensure civilizations clash as soon as possible.
In one of the Mesopotamian scenarios, for example, the aim is to be the first tribe to donate a token to the local god, who resides in a nearby volcano. This means beating down all the other tribes in order to reach the top first. Sure, you can rampage through their towns and cities in typical Civ III fashion if you like, but it's by no means essential. The new victory conditions are much more varied than before, thus increasing the variety of gameplay and, to a large extent, eliminating that painful endgame drag.
Long Knights Ahead
Other gameplay improvements focus on the units themselves. Again, a lot of it boils down to realism and Firaxis is working hard on making each civilization feel even more distinctive. Japan has kamikaze pilots and ninjas (the latter being a stealth unit), and the South American tribes now have the ability to perform ritual sacrifices. New units like the Knights Templar allow the English to spawn automatically, in the Pearl bear before being All in all, Conquests might just be the expansion pack Play The World should have been, but we'll have more details when we review the game next issue.
Download Sid Meier's Civilization 3: Conquests
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP