Friday, May 09, 2008

Civilisation IV - Beyond the Sword

Not feeling in the mood to explore the Metaverse, I've spend some time playing the latest Civilisation game, one of my old time favorites.

The first Civilisation game (which came in a 3 floppy disk edition) was an instant classic when it hit the market in 1991. I remember playing the game untill way past bedtime during college. This first edition was of course pretty basic in graphics and gameplay. You had a world, a number of civilisations you could play and so on. After a little while Civilisation II hit the market, and Sid Meier started exploring new Civilisations. This 2nd edition centered in the near east, primarily adding the Carthagens to the game. I really missed out on the big world map so I was happy when Civ III was released and we were back to normal gameplay again.

Civilisation IV (by Firaxis Games) is the 2005 release of the game and has been severely upgraded, not only in graphics, but also in a number of other areas:

The concept of religion is new to Civilization IV, where in previous games players built generic temples and cathedrals to contribute to happiness and culture. There are now seven distinct religions in the game: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Taoism. Each religion is associated with a specific technology on the tech tree; the first civilization that gains the technology founds the religion. The four later religions (Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, and Taoism) begin with a free Missionary unit for reasons of game balance; missionaries can later be trained at a city that has constructed an associated monastery. Other than this, there are no special traits or bonuses associated with any particular religion
in order to avoid controversy.

Religion factors into a number of existing game mechanics. Civilizations that share a common state religion will find themselves more agreeable in their diplomatic dealings; conversely, civilizations with differing state religions will not be as close diplomatically. The religion's founder may also receive an economic benefit: if that civilization expends a Great Prophet at their religion's holy (founding) city, they will construct that religion's most sacred building, and it will generate 1 gold per turn for every
other city that hosts said religion. Once a religion has spread to a city, there is no way to remove it from said city. Finally, if a civilization has a state religion and owns that religion's holy city, they will receive 'line-of-sight' in every other city hosting that religion.

The new civics model of government also has a strong effect on religion. Players can found a state religion, declare religious freedom, restrict non-state religious adoption, or take other actions that have profound impacts on the religious lives of their subjects. These civics can provide a great incentive to spread a state religion throughout one's empire, as the best bonuses will only be applied to cities in which the religion is present." (Wikipedia)

Another new feature of the game is that you've got more civilisations to chose from, and a number of civilisations have more than one leader to choose from, each with their special traits and special units.

The main concept of the game is to build your nation: explore, found new cities and build them into little paradises for your population. In Civ - IV there are a ton of new buildings to build, like groceries, forges, drydocks etcetera.

An important gamefeature is the ability to build World Wonders. These wonders bring extra happiness, culture, productivity or other benefits to your nation. In Civ IV the number of world wonders has been expanded drastically as well. There are new additions such as the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and a whole range of religious and Asiatic world wonders.

When you work your way through history, it's unavoifable to run into a war at times. In this case I got dragged into a war two times because vassal nations decided to hammer eachother, drawing me in as well. Fortunately, World wonders such as the United Nations, or the Apostolic Palace give you tools to declare worldwide peace soon enough.

In the early Civilisation editions the world was cramped. You had to expand fast to secure your place in history. To speed up your development it's vital to share knowledge with your neigbours before trying to reinvent the wheel everytime yourself. In the old games, you had to have a little luck there, it largely depended on which continent you landed on. Sometimes, the civs on the other content had a faster development rate and you fell behind. In Civ IV every civilisation starts on the same continent, and there's a second continent (If you play world-like map) called "The New World" which has to be discovered and colonised as well.

Not being a big fan of "Shoot 'em up" games, I prefer to win by technological dominance, rather than destroying my opponents. This time I was way ahead of the competition and started building my spaceship when the neighbouring countries were researching how to build Railroads. On earlier occasions, the spacerace was a closely contested project and needed numerous sabotage efforts to stop the competition for achieving this victory before me.

And victory is there... We've gone where no man has gone before and started a colony. Here ends the 'Normal' Civilisation game, now let's have a look at the "Beyond the Sword" expansion pack.

This release of Civilisation comes with a number of expansion packs, such as "Warlords" and "Beyond the Sword" which bring a number of new features to the game as well as a range of scenario's to play.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Taking it Slow - Living the Life

Taking it Slow

It's been about a month since I last posted here at the MindBlizzard blog. Some havhave thought it for audacious reasons, like 'banning Second Life' because of the new Trademark Regulations, and I wish it were true.

Prime reason for my absense is that Real Life needed a lot of attention. My mother has been diagnosed cancer and has been on and off into the hospital. It puts a little strain on my family as well as we have to go over regularly and help out. Since winter has been long, and we're all dying to get some warmer, sunny weather, my own health has been failing a little as well, being floored by the flu twice in a month.

Live the Life

What spare time I had, I spent outside the Metaverse -in private gaming. One of these adventures I'd like to share with you. In the early 90's I played a lot of Sid Meier games, like Civilisation (1991) and Railroad Tycoon (1990), which would fit onto 3 floppy disks at the time. I've been playing Civilisation a lot over the years, upgrading every version as soon as it came out. There was one more game which I played for a little while, which was "Pirates! Gold" (1993)

Last year I already tried out the new Railroads version, but aside from improved graphics, I think the gameplay didn't match the original. Some two months ago I ran into the new Pirates version, titled "Live the Life" (Official Site)

"Sid Meier's Pirates! is a 2004 strategy/action/adventure computer game developed by Firaxis Games and published by Atari.[1] The game is based on Sid Meier's earlier 1987 game, also named Sid Meier's Pirates!. Overall, the gameplay remains similar to the original game, though it features a 3D game engine (NDL's Gamebryo). Some elements such as sun sighting have been removed, but other features have been added, such as a ballroom dancing mini-game and an improved turn-based land combat system." (Wikipedia)

As with "Side Meier's Railroads" (2006), this new Pirates! version isn't much more than a brush up of the graphics, but its been fun to play for old times sake. A couple of screenshots:

Most importantly, as a pirate, you sail the caribbean seas, chasing Spanish galleons laden with treasure, troops or spices. Visit the various Governors regularly to get promotions, and be sure to marry a Governor's daughter, as this is where the real money is. Once you're married, she'll give you clues to Lost Cities of the Aztec, Incan and Olmec empires which will yield great treasures.

Here's a screener of the retirement page. Final rankings, Pirates defeated, treasures found etc.

Labels: , , , ,