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Civilization 3: Conquests Review
developer: Firaxis Games
PII 550, 128MB RAM, 8MB Video Card, 1.2GB HD
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Nov 04, 03
|» All About Civilization 3: Conquests on ActionTrip|
So, you think being a leader is easy? Try any of Sid Meier's Civilization games on for size and see if their challenges can convince you otherwise. Although slightly underrated these days, turn-based strategies managed to survive thanks to such splendid contributions to the genre. Over the years, Sid and the development team at Firaxis refused to waver, and as a result of their efforts we've seen fantastic strategies like Civilization II and Alpha Centauri. Today, the collaboration of Firaxis and Atari takes the Civilization series to a higher level with the latest expansion pack, Civilization III: Conquests. Players are now offered a chance to enjoy a brilliantly conceived strategy game, simultaneously learning a great deal about various interesting periods of human history.
This expansion encompasses seven brand new civilizations and seven new scenarios, which include the following: Mesopotamia, Rise of Rome, Fall of Rome, Middle-Ages, Mesoamerica, Age of Discovery, Sengoku - Sword of the Shogun, Napoleonic Europe, and WW II in the Pacific. In order to get acquainted with the basics of the game, it is wise to start the Mesopotamia scenario first. Things like politics, economy, religion, and warfare were a lot simpler in that particular age, so you best star off here and then play the rest of the scenarios chronologically. At this point I should mention that all the new scenarios are very long, presenting a commendable step up since Civilization III. When players engage in, say, Age of Discovery, they will be allowed to fight as the invaders as well as the native civilizations, which must try and fend off European conquerors. Another challenging scenario is when you get to play as the French in Napoleonic Europe - the French were rather unpopular at the time, so you can expect some heavy resistance as you march across Europe. After you've completed the first couple of scenarios, you are left to participate in other major events that took place throughout the history. Each scenario is as lengthy and involving as the other - you'd better have a huge amount of spare time on your hands if you want to finish the entire add-on.
No matter which civilization you opt for, it's always possible to experience a variety of extras and new features that come with the expansion pack. It's a cool thing that all of these new features make for some serious play time that's slightly different to what we've tried out in the previous title. For example, at the very beginning, players can use the all-new Sumerian Enkidu Warrior, a unit suitable for gaining dominant military presence to counter enemy realms. Medieval siege warfare gets the advantage of a brand new weapon called the trebuchet, which is excellent for smashing down castle walls. We take a swing to the future of mankind, where certain units receive some handy improvements; submarines surrounded by multiple enemies are now able to pick which unit to attack first. Also, bombers can weaken enemy ships successfully via bombardment. And that's only a slice of the action. There are many more advantages, which we think players should discover themselves.
As before, during scenarios, players may take any course of action they deem necessary, regardless of the aptitudes of their civilization. This means that war is always an option if you become fed up with the greediness and jealousy of neighboring empires. In order to achieve a successful military campaign, players must organize an effective assault strategy, in addition to fortifying their cities - the AI will jump at the chance to snatch a town with weak defenses. The improvements in enemy intelligence are more than obvious. All opposing empires use different military tactics when they declare war, and if they outnumber your forces, chances are your civilization won't live to see the advantages of inventions such as indoor plumping and electricity. (Bummer! - 2Lions)
Numerous incorporated changes such as newly improved units, more wonders to construct (mostly in early chapters of history), and so on, make the game considerably more complex. There's also a wider variety of resources to fight for this time around: tobacco, bananas, oasis (well, water), salt, sugar, jade, and exotic birds. Next to that, players are now able to explore the whole map, by exploiting the benefits of satellite technology. Every new gameplay component was fitted in to make things easier and more enjoyable for players. Believe me this is a huge advantage during the game. Actually, on an overall note, all these improvements undoubtedly make a valuable addition to the gameplay.
Handling every civilization clearly carries a huge responsibility. Apart from securing the civilization's borders and establishing superior technological advancements, it is your duty to bear certain obligations towards the community. One of your priorities is to establish cities near fertile lands and build mines close to precious metal resources. Logically, the level of productivity in every city depends on the number of citizens within its walls. Keeping a population together calls for skilled leadership. In due course, every thriving civilization faces a shift in governing and politics. This add-on allows you to rely on all-new government types such as Tribal Council (which can, of course, be used in the early stages of history), Imperialism, and even Fascism. Feudalism, for instance, is also an appreciated comeback, and stands as a very useful governing system for those who have their heart set on expanding their realm quickly. Fascism is useful for establishing well-organized territorial armies, but its inhuman doctrine could easily bring about a significant reduction of inhabitants throughout the land.
The GUI looks and operates practically the same as before, so experienced gamers will feel right at home. Those of you familiar with the intricacies of gameplay will certainly appreciate the new features as they'll make it even more streamlined and addictive. Thankfully, Conquests was effectively assimilated to make things somewhat easier for beginners. This doesn't mean, however, that inexpert players will feel completely comfortable with the expansion, which even now seems to exhibit quite a lofty learning curve. For that reason, I encourage many of you to consult the manual before venturing into any serious Civilization game time. The simple fact is that average gamers could be averted because of an incredible amount of micromanagement needed in order to ensure the progress of your civilization.
There's really not a lot to highlight when it comes to graphics. It's all pretty much the same old enchilada we saw in Civilization III; with the exception of a small amount of fresh concept art incorporated for new units. The new maps show off almost no visual improvement though, and as I pointed out before, there are very little changes in the GUI. The new units have also brought a couple of additional sounds into the game, but the rest of the audio remained exactly the same. Still, we're all well aware that Firaxis never meant to alter any of audio or visual elements with their expansion pack. The sole purpose of Conquests was to establish a well-balanced and a more involving gameplay than before. In that respect, the add-on was a complete success. Additionally, from a technical standpoint, everything appeared to be in order throughout the entire game. We are very pleased to see that Conquests had been tweaked and relieved of some of the bugs and issues from the previous game.
Although we still did not get a suitable chance to test the multiplayer, we believe some of the new features will create a significantly more addictive experience than before. All the same, it's safe to assume that most players will probably spend a great deal of time going through the thorough single-player scenarios before they decide to try the multiplayer mode.
There doesn't seem to be enough time or space to name and analyze every single new feature. The great thing about Civilization III: Conquests is that a majority of changes have streamlined the gameplay of this excellent turn-based strategy series. Fans simply must give it a try, while rookie strategists are advised to check out the manual before diving into the game's complex challenges. In any case, we're looking at a very good add-on, which successfully builds upon the traditions of one of the most popular strategy games ever.
8.6 Very Good
Seven new civilizations, lengthy scenarios, new features make the gameplay even more addictive;
Steep learning curve, missing more visual and audio improvements.
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