Review by FoosLegend

"A detailed game that lacks diplomacy."

When I decided to buy Alpha Centauri I was sure my game buying days would come to an end. Why would I ever need to buy another game? After all, this is the game that's better than Civ II. Anyhow, I bought a new game the next day.

Don't get me wrong...I invested an uninterrupted 20 hours of my life to try and find something to hook me. But even on the next to easiest level I eventually fully automated most of my units to try to overcome the unforgiving AI of my opponents. This led to a very boring turn based experience.

Diplomacy boils down to selling out - giving your neighbors exactly what they want. If you don't consistently cooperate with them this game goes from Civ Sim to War Sim after about 10 minutes of game time. Then diplomacy turns into a search for a powerful military based ally to help defend yourself (just pray they don't turn against you for no reason).

After you realize the need for a strong army one might expect some decent tactical strategies for combat. Instead, there is no such thing as bait and flank or ambush or surgical insertions. Your main option is move your icon to the same square as your enemy and watch the little health meters.

Sure there are numerous technologies to research but who wants to spend up to 300 turns to upgrade when you can do nothing else with that city in the meantime? I guess in the future cities wont be able to create armed forces while they research better recycling plants.

One of the cool features of this game is the automation option. It lets you decide the level of micromanagement. But be careful...your scouts will pass right by important equipment pods that are scattered randomly across the map unless you take direct control of them.

The sounds of this game are exceptional. Music is awesome, voice overs are top notch and suitably creepy when they need to be, and combat sound effects rule. But they are all null and void when coupled with a graphics engine that makes DOS applications look state of the art. Unit icons are as big as the city that produced them (which means the cities are very small). Terrain looks like a chocolate chip cookie with xenofungus. And when contacted by another leader they just send a picture of themselves and a typed letter of their proposition - no cool animation like Imperium Galactica II.

If you already own Civ II just leave well enough alone. If you don't own Civ II Alpha Centauri may or may not be the last game you ever buy. Just don't expect the world, or - dare I say - the universe from it.

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 02/15/02, Updated 02/15/02

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