||Soap Civilization - the third series.
Have you played Civilization 3 long enough? As to me, I have. So, after playing this game through from A to Z, I guess I can regard it in a sober light. A reservation: in the end of all the game will get high scores (It is Civilization still!). The main advantage of the game is that it did not get worse then the previous game in the series. In fact, I did not expect any revolutionary novelties in this game. Civilization belongs to the kind of games, which right after seeing the light of the day, become exhausted (And let all Civilization fans accept my sincere apologies as far as I am not trying to hurt anyone). In such games one can make something better, rebuild something, but cannot make radical changes in general. It is the decoration that is being changed not the action itself.
After spending enough time reading messages on forums I came away with the main point of gamers' dissatisfaction: "For how long are the developers going to send the very same, just slightly redrawn, starship to space?" I should say that this question knocks me out. It's true...
There is nothing in Civilization 3 what could be regarded unambiguously. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages as well. So, graphics in the game is great, but once again the sprites are used: meanwhile developers around the world are doing their best to take global strategy games into the world of 3d technologies. On the other hand sprites of all figures in the game are really excellent as well as their animation, and they do impress! However that may be, I guess, that nowadays it is not enough.
Portraits never were realistic in Civilization series, but those of the third game have surpassed all previous games including Alpha Centauri in respect of crankiness of the style portraits performed with. The artists spiced them with a big bunch of humor, although portraits of advisers and rulers of different civilizations look quite oddly.
I will not be enumerating quantity of sprites, animated units and other game statistics to avoid red tape. In a word, the Earth has become bigger and nicer. As to the starting rules they were decreased in number, but it hardly did the game worse.
If you try to play the game on the highest difficulty level then I can state that the final result will be very unambiguous: sooner or later you can discover that some Aztecs or else have declared war to your state, while you have being fondly thinking of your state, flourishing on a distant island, to be in safe. AI in Civilization always was very strong and it was interesting to play against computer opponent, at least while playing the game for the first time.
Interface of the game has not become worse, but it is hardly possible to say that it is easy to get used to it. On the one hand it is quite convenient when all panels are SO compact, but on the other hand, one needs a big hint book, otherwise he is fated to guess which key to press to perform some action.
Generally speaking, buying the Sid Meier's game I expected more from this title. The game has almost returned to its creator, but there are no cardinal novelties that have become so attractive to many gamers since release of Alpha Centauri. Sea is still useless, i.e. you can use it as a 'battlefield', but you cannot build anything there. In the game you can play up to the year 2050, but there will be no terra-forming, no sea plantations, no possibility to found a sea settlement. You cannot change landscape cardinally: as if it was not done in Alpha Centauri. One more upsetting moment is that you cannot modify hi-tech units, as it was possible in the very same Alpha Centauri. I acknowledge that, formally, Alpha and Civilization are two different things, but, I guess, no man of sense can say that these features either do not suit Civilization or do break its canons. So, roughly speaking, in the ideal variant, the level of technologies of the year 2050 will just slightly surpass that of the humankind nowadays: the starship will be sent to Alpha for the third time though...
The scourge of all games in this series was that a big crowd of archers was able to seize a town defended with tanks. And the frustrating thing is that the computer opponent is not even making any attempts to reform its army, it does that only when all its troops perished in battles. Even more frustrating thing is that a bunch of vessels is able to sink a cruiser.
All this is nothing but production costs though. Anyway, I think that would be reasonable to realize compulsory disbandment of "out-of-date" troops as well as to add to "out-of-date" troops some negative bonuses to defense and attack characteristics while they are fighting against more advanced troops.
No new orders as well as abilities were added to units. The only difference is that now you need not attach troops to some settlement/town/city, so you can concentrate hordes of your troops in a small town. But it is this very feature that allows computer opponent to gather big hordes of troops, while its maneuvers on your territory can take up to 2 minutes in real time. It is good that troops have become more versatile though. Each nation (almost each one) has its own unique type of units: the Hindus have war elephants, the Aztecs - jaguar-warriors. Fortunately, the Russians were not granted with bast-shoed soldiers with caps with ear-flaps instead of weapon :)
The technology tree has been elaborated. It now has more potential branches as well as dead ends in development. So, it can take some time. I should say that there is something to be offended by the developers to the game: somehow the "Vostok project" has 'turned' out to be the "Apollo program" in the third game of the series. That is the way in which the developers regard historical correctness. And why does the invention of the nuclear weapon give atomic bomb to all civilizations? I doubt that the latter was done to provide balance between nations.
As to the Wonders of the World, then caravans are not in the game anymore, but it is caravans that could make building faster... Of course, we were granted with a leader who can do that, but I guess all of them could be in the game. Moreover, a leader can be acquired only in a battle, in the very big battle, I should say: but when one comes to these battles, the biggest part of inventions necessary for building the Wonders of the World is already in the past.
Politics, together with advisors, is another feature peculiar to Civilization series. The advisors of the third game in the series have not impressed me. In the previous game the artists created excellent scene cuts with real actors (Do you remember the blind drunk military advisor with a wine glass in his hand? He was really impressive). In this game they are not that good, although they do possess some charm too. You will not get any advice from them though. The only thing they do is moaning about lack of money, necessity of building something and beating the neighbors. To get on your case is their job, and you can do nothing with that :)
Diplomacy is not that good: putting it mildly. I should say that it is the first time when the developers decided not to pay any serious attention to the politics. Playing the game I did not share technologies with my neighbors, and when they declared war I paid them with gold if I wished to avoid war. So, it is quite possible to live in Civilization by one's own, without waging wars.
Espionage has suffered too. Now it is a mug's game. It is too costly and almost always fated to failure. In general, it is nothing but ruin to one's treasury.
A new word in the game is strategic resources like: iron, coal, diamonds, sulfur, oil, aluminum, uranium etc. It is resources that make the war with neighbors be worthy. Mines are limited in numbers and possession of them is very important for your civilization's success. Without iron there will be no legionnaires, without horses there will be no cavalry, without oil there will be no ships and so on. It is essential to get hold of these mines in the right time. Controlling them you can advance to the technologies of the 20th century leaving your neighbors with cavalry and archers.
Fortunately, local people do not forget to thank you with erecting a palace devoted to you! There is a lot of funny stuff here. And it is quite nice when people love you!
In general, in spite of all drawbacks and critics by Civilization fan, the game is pretty good; moreover, there are no alternatives to it! It was unique and it is still that way: until there are no plans for the sequel to Alpha Centauri. I hope that in the next game of the series Mr. Cid Meier will be the head designer but not only the part of the title!
For one thing I just must thank the developers - the game does captivate the player! One can easily lose track of how many hours he has been building the city! Moreover, it is always nice to take a look at the Great (Chinese) Wall around Moscow or the Great Pyramids in Odessa or the Colossus in St. Petersburg!
This game is definitely worth of buying! So, that is all.
Music and sound effects: 6/10
Game controls: 7/10
Graphics and effects: 7.5/10
Map design: 8/10
Balance in the game: 6.5/10
Total: 7.4 (Expected: 7.0)
- Yuri Bushin (Yurg-Aga)