Review by Fraghappy

"An amazing side-saga from the Civilization series"

Alpha Centuari is a very well-designed side-saga from the Civilization series that never got the full recognition that it deserves. Basically, the game works very much the same way that Civilization does, except the fact that you begin in a new frontier for humanity, a strange alien planet orbiting the star Alpha Centuari. Earth had slowly been destroyed by the growing human population, so ships were sent out to colonize planets out in space. Unfortunately, the U.M.N. Unity, the ship set out to Alpha Centuari, had to make an unexpected crash landing. The crew had broken up into different factions, and each one escaped in separate escape capsules, and land out in the wilderness in random locations on the planet.

Shortly after landing, and settling your first base, you can start looking around. The terrain is covered in huge patches by red moss called Xenofungus. The fungus nests broods of aliens known as Mindworms, which use psychic attacks to paralyze and kill their enemies. These basically are the replacements to barbarians from the original Civ games.

Instead of the traditional method of technologies unlocking new units, this game has an all new system. You discover new parts, such as armor, weapons, chassis types, and special abilities. Then, it is up to you to create your own units with different combinations of the given parts.

The government system was also replaced in this game. Now, there are different “modes” for different areas of government that can be unlocked throughout the game. These affect several “factors” which determine how well your new settlements are fun. For instance, if your Growth factor is -3, your bases will grow at an extremely slow rate. However, if Growth is +3, your bases will be booming with growth. There are a few special ones, like Planet, which affects how well you interact with the Xenofungus and how well you can capture Mindworms.

Each faction also has advantages and disadvantages to weigh, which makes it all the more important to be careful in which one you pick. For instance, Gaia’s Stepdaughters have +1 Planet, +2 Efficiency, but also have -1 Morale and -1 Police. The faction you pick also determines what techs you start out with, but that is less important than some might think.

Graphics-wise, this game is fairly good quality. The game came out in 1998, so it obviously doesn’t stack up with some of the newer turn-based games. Some of the unit sprites are a bit fuzzy, but you can very easily tell what everything is. The terrain squares are very well-done however, but then again they’d have to be to simulate an alien world.

The sounds are neither a positive nor a negative. The music is kind of creepy, and the sounds can be a little annoying at times, but overall they do not detract from the game at all. It’s pretty much what you’d expect to hear when you’re settling an alien planet… (not like there is a logical thing to expect.)

To finish things off, I shall simply say: “Go buy it.” It isn’t much different from Civilization, but a very good game nonetheless. These days, it has a fairly low price, and you can usually get a good deal on the bundle with the expansion pack. So, this game gets a much deserved 9/10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/29/03, Updated 06/29/03

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