Ok, I will tell the conclusion rightoff - I was unimpressed by this third release of what might have been a great game. And dont think its because I didnt like the previous releases, or simply just had gotten tired of the genre. When I first heard that this game was to be released in a new version, I was enthusiastic.
It was like hearing a good old friend would come back for a visit and some good time together.
When I got my hands on it some time after it was released, I started playing with the intention of finding all great new features and units the new version got.
Sure there's new units, and yes indeedy, there was a few changes from Civ 2, but those were few - but overall the enthusiasm soon faded.
My disappointment stems from the fact that this is basically the same old game that only gotten a new packaging and a slight facelift.
After giving it a second chance playing it again before getting this written down I must say that the first impression mostly is correct.
There's some changes yes, but neither really have improved the gameplay. I like a challenge, but now it have become insanely difficult even. And though a few problems with the earlier versions have been solved, others remain the same. Like when you give a unit an order to move between two distant locations, it still might take a road leading to a dead end and step over a mountain instead of using a fast railroad to reach the destination in a single turn. And like before you often end up with runaway global warming caused by he pollution in other nations which doesn't do anything to prevent it.
You might already have seen this if you've played Civ 2, so the new version offers so little new that you could pass on this release. If you're a hard core fan of this genre of management game, you probably won't listen to my recommendaton in any case - be my guest!
Civilization is basically a management game, with occasional conflicts. Plan ahead to get vital resources or wonders, or let the enemy develop and build and then attack to steal the miningtown or city with a particularily neat wonder.
If you feel that you are in a weak position, you might decide to bribe your neighbours with money or resources , until you are able to build up your force or technology to either ward them off or go to on the offensive. Compared with the previous version Civ 2 you have some more resourses found in the land which you can exploit - ebony, aluminium and uranium are three such.
The difference is that some resources only becomes available when you have gotten the technology to exploit them. So dont try and go settling an are with lot of oil and aluminium,you cant see where its located until late in the game.
In Civ2 those resources only gave you a bit of extra funds or shields when exploited, but now you can also trade some of them with your neighbours - or as said, use them as ransom to get your opponents to leave you alone. Giving money directly is also possible, but its no longer possible to transfer units either to friends of enemys.
The gameplay is so similar to the previous releases that it would almost be superfluous to mention anyting about it if there only were Civ fans who read this.
But a short outline is that you are to lead and build a nation, make it expand either trough colonisation or by conquest and guide it trough the problems that it will face.
The problems are first barbarians, who now can have villages of their own, later your competitors and opponents will be the majorchallenge, threatening you with war or trying to get you involved in their conflicts. In the later stages you will see problems caused by of a growing population, corruption and later also environmental conserns.
Even though the rule for passing enemy units are gone in this version of the game, you wont be able to move completely freely. When you are in war and move into enemy territory you will note that your units wont be moving as freely as on your own land. This isnt a really new thing, but more of a tweak of the original rules. And like the previous game, dont think aircrafts have gotten better, They are in fact as useless as ever, despite the fact that it have been proven over and over since WW2 that air superiority in fact will win a war.
Corruption affects your citys about the same way as earlier. But where the Civilopedia states that corruption affects all citys to the same degree under communism, your nation will instead have about same problems with corruption for distant citys as when you have a kingdom. Again similar as for the the previous release, and this is bad news. Another thing that seems to have been overlooked is that war weariness doesn't diminish with time.
One change is that you cant use money, or disbanding troops to speed up a wonderproject. And there's no caravan units which you could use to speed up the project either. But there's a new way to finish those faster (and just about any thing you are building), keep your citizens extremely happy - each time they celebrate their ruler the project will take a jump forward. The amount depends on the project and perhaps also the cize of the city.
The major problem with Civ3 is however that its slow, when Civ2 could be played on just about any system, like a Pentium 90 MHz, Civ 3 is demanding system resources like the most advanced first person 'shuut-em-ups'. This problem with gobbling up all system resources only occured when we played it for an extended period of time, yet that should not happen on a system like our testcomputer that have 256 MB of ram!
So playing a long game you will sometimes even see that some features of your system not related to the game go on the blink or shut down. This suggesting there's a memoryleak somewhere.
We tested this hypothesis by creating a game on a large map and kept some other programs running in the background. And the game did indeed run into the problems we've seen, the system resources got overtaxed and the menus of Civilization eventually simply failed to show. Yet it did not crash, and thats something that put this game ahead of most other recently released games.
So the game certainly is demanding on your system, we cannot imagine what it would be like on the minimum requirements of a Pentium2 300 MHz with 64 MB - and we havn't dared try even. But with autosave on, or by saving often you should have no problem getting trough a campaign.
Overall you need to have a tremendous patience to play this game on anything less than one 1 GHz system with accelerated graphics. And even then you will have rather long waiting times when the computer makes its turns for the opposing forces and nations.
Verdict: The game certainly have gotten new graphics and some of those are really cool, but unless you have one of the best computer systems available you will find the gameplay so slow that you are unlikely to play it trough more than one single time. If you like management games with the added features of exploration and some warfare this could be the game for you. But if you have played Civilization 2 extensively - we have to say that you could pass on this release.
Despite the many cons, we must say that this really is a great game. Especially for those who havn't played any earlier reincarnation of Civilization, the stability is as good as one could ask for. So despite the whining seen here we must say that Civilization comes recommended, but that without giving it a full score.