Review by twrkit

"A different kind of Civ game... In some people's eyes, the best kind"

Introduction

The Civilization series has always involved playing through from mankind's ancient times to its modern times, and taking a little glimpse of what might be. But who would ever have imagined, a game that is focused on predicting mankind's possible future? Sid Meier... that's who!

Just a little overview about the Alpha Centauri story, for it is a story that MUST be told: Colonists from earth have boarded a ship destined for a distant planet in the Alpha Centauri star system. Suddenly, an emergency arises and the colonists are forced to split up into seven groups and make an emergency landing on the planet. The groups have not split up into groups according to race, but rather ideology...

An interesting fact: Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to our Sun. It is also one of the relatively few places in the Milky Way (our galaxy) that we could perhaps live in.

Gameplay: 9/10

You start out with a colony pod to found your first new city. All of the factions have different agendas in mind, giving you bonuses depending on which faction you choose to play through.

The factions: All of the factions that are available to you have distinct personalities and are thought out very well. Role-playing through each faction really is a unique experience. The factions include preservationists, the technology-minded, a hive-like society, the monopoly-minded, religious fanatics, military-enthusiasts and peacekeepers.

You will have no contact with the other factions until you have met them, but you are able to contact them anytime through the commlink, after you have spoken with them (unless they turn off their commlink to you).

Terraforming: You are able to terraform the planet, which means you can rearrange the planet's face to suit your civilization's needs (actually you will have to on a planet like this). You will be able to construct farms, roads, solar collectors, sensor arrays, mine, remove fungus (part of the planet's makeup), plant forests etc.

Future technologies: The technology-tree is amazing - predicting the kinds of technologies mankind will have acquired given the situation and isolation from their earth-cousins. All of these technologies include improvements in exploration, colonization, population growth, military applications, wealth, cities, and pure knowledge.

The battles: Battles are just as they were in previous Civilization games, but with a futuristic twist. This time around you will not be fighting with spearmen or modern-day weapons. You will be fighting your wars with technologically-advanced infantry, vehicles, ships, copters, aircraft and missiles.

For those of you who are not familiar with the game interface: You play the game in turns. During these turns you can construct city improvements, train units, move units according to their movement rate, perform unit actions, and attack opponents and their settlements. You are still able to fight through espionage as well, just like in the previous Civ games.

Customizing Units?: Yes in SMAC you are able to customize a unit's function (military or otherwise), weapon, armor, special abilities and power source. So if for example, you need a unit that doesn't require much defense you can just give it little or no armor, or if you need a unit just to defend your cities and not necessarily conquer your opponents you would give them good armor, but not good weapons.

This sort of customization gives you control over your units, allowing for specific tasks to be done. For example, you might need a unit to do something, yet you need this unit fast. By taking away the unit's armor etc. it will get trained faster and will get rid of unnecessary armor that would have taken longer when you don't really need good armor for that unit. Thus, there is not just that one type of unit - there are variations.

A real life example would be soldiers who do not wear much armor because they are specialized in being able to move fast. Yet some soldiers are heavily armored because they will be taking the most damage. The special abilities are also great for specializing units to your desire.

As you proceed through the game, the story about the Planet's state and its ecosystem progresses and starts to affect your game. This is part of what makes Alpha Centauri.... the story!

Graphics: 7/10

The in-game graphics are just right. The landscape art is good, and the units are done reasonably well. When the units are destroyed they will explode. It would have been great if you could see the buildings in your cities just like in the previous Civs, but that might have something to do with it being set in the future. It would be a lot harder to design the cities. Still, when your cities grow they expand and change form. It's always nice to see change in videogames.

The project videos will sometimes contain computer-generated graphics, still pictures and real life footage, and all convey their messages very well. The project videos are philosophical and are always a treat to watch.

Sound: 8/10

The music is different for each faction and displays the characteristics of that particular faction. The additional music sounds great. The sound of mindworms attacking is appropriately eerie. The sound of units attacking is good and will keep you satisfied. The project videos are narrated insightfully and convincingly. You will often hear the voices of the other factions' leaders when you complete research (which you can grow quite fond of if you know the other factions well enough). All the other sound effects have a nice futuristic theme to them.

Replay value: 8/10

You can role-play each faction's personality or just try their bonuses out for yourself. Check the date of my review... I still play it! There is really no other game like it. Many people wish for a sequel to this beautiful, beautiful game but I mean what else needs to be done? Actually they could make it so you can see your city's structures, and make it that you are on another empty planet. This time making contact with alien races who wish to fight you for control of it. Imagine a futuristic city? Well they have actually made wallpapers that give a general idea of what each faction's cities would look like. That could be the start of an exciting sequel. We can only hope...

Overall: 9/10

This is a must-have for anyone who likes turn-based strategy and/or has played the previous civilization games. It is also a must-try RIGHT NOW (lol) for anyone who is interested in the future, technology or Science Fiction. This is undoubtedly one of Sid Meier's greatest creations.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/05


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