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Publisher: MacSoft    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 500 MB

Civilization III
January 31, 2002 | Michael Phillips

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Ahhh, to be the immortal leader of one’s own civilization… There is no better lot in life! To see a people grow from nothing, save dirt and sweat is astounding. Watching simple people using simple tools to prosper and advance to the superior technology found in one’s dreams is astonishingly gratifying. Sadly, most of us aren’t immortal leaders, nor have we founded our own civilizations. Thus, it would seem quite impossible to experience such utter joy & glory… or is it?

Thanks to the folks at MacSoft, us mere mortal Mac users can take the helm as leader of a growing civilization with the help of a little game by the name of Sid Meier’s Civilization III (Civ III). Yes, Sid Meier, a legend in the turn-based strategy game genre, creator of Alpha Centauri and the rest of the Civilization series is back and more strategic than ever. Yet, can the Civilization series still be fresh after all this time? Are a few new features and enhancements enough to keep things interesting? Does Civilization III live up to all the hype? Aside from the lack of one MAJOR feature and a handful of minor issues, Civilization III is about as good as it gets in the realm of turn-based strategy gaming. Combining complex gameplay with a clean, easy to control user interface, this game ALMOST has something for everyone. Almost… one could nearly choke on the foreshadowing! Read on to learn the triumphs and failures of Sid Meier’s Civilization III.

Gameplay: Strategyrific, Almost
In Civilization III, players take on the role as leader of one of 16 great civilizations existing in the past and present. Leaders include such figures as King Alexander of Greece, Saint Joan d’Arc of France, Mahatma Gandhi of India, Queen Elizabeth of England (watch out, she’s a looker!) and my current personal favorite, Julius Caesar of Rome, just to name a few. Every leader has their own advantages and personalities, thus players have a good reason to experiment with each. For example, Queen Elizabeth is Commercial and Expansionist, so England gets bonuses to trading goods with other civilizations as well as bonuses when scouting the world and founding new cities. Julius Caesar is Commercial and Militaristic, making it quite easy for Rome to raise an army quickly and efficiently. During games in which Gandhi is on the map, don’t expect the mighty Indian army to come to call. Each leader has computer A.I. modeled after their historical personality.

Now, whenever I think of Civilization, I see an endless procession of buttons, sliders and statistics, all of which are complicated and overwhelming. Such interface complexity turned me off to the previous Civilization incarnations. Thankfully, Civ III is far more user friendly. The interface in Civ III is clean, straightforward and to the point. There are a few buttons at the bottom of the screen for unit actions such as building cities, a mini-map and a unit/terrain info panel, that’s about it. The Advisor screens which are used to view and manipulate detailed information about a civilization’s cities, military, culture or diplomacy may seem a tad scary at first glance, but they are actually rather intuitive and easy to pick up in a short amount of time. The learning curve overall in Civ III isn’t too steep thanks to a fine tutorial mode and an extensive in game help system called the “Civilopedia”. The Civilopedia contains a description of every single one of Civilization III’s game elements, making it easy for anyone to learn about anything from Great Wonders of the World to Queen Elizabeth’s measurements. Ok, most of the previous sentence was true… In any event, with the Civilopedia, no player need be lost and struggling for long.


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