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The next generation of the classic civilisation building game
on 12 November 2010
Civilisation III is the successor to the hit PC game by Sid Meier, Civilisation II, cited as the definitive form of civilisation building game. Like its predecessor, Civilisation III operates on the same basic principles. Lacking a storyline, it involves turn-based strategic civilisation building with a set of victory conditions, on a real world map or a randomly generated map. You have a choice of 16 civilisations to play from, less than in Civilisation II, but they now come with added features. This adds new dimensions and sophistication to the civilisations you can play.
You need to build new cities to expand your empire, and improve and secure your existing ones to bring wealth, scientific advance, and development to your empire. However there are one or two new features in the city-building options. Firstly, you cannot simply come to dominate by building cities over every available space and gain a stranglehold over the map to the detriment of all the other civilisations. Cities now produce corruption or waste depending on how far away they are from your civilisation's capital, so after a point they simply will not function, making the possibility of victory by seeding cities all over the map now an unfeasible one. Secondly, squares with special resources in them now have a much greater role to play. Certain resources allow the player to build military units which they couldn't otherwise build without the resource, and both resources and luxuries may be traded with other civilisations for benefits. Thirdly, there is a new feature called Culture. Each city has a culture rating, the higher this is, the bigger the hinterland a city can command, and the more your civilisation's borders expand.
There is also a technology tree as previously, but this is divided now into different ages, ranging from the Ancient Age to the Modern Age. The diplomacy screen is greatly expanded as well, with the capability to make a range of different deals and exchanges, with handy tips from your foreign advisor if the deal you're thinking of proposing is likely to be accepted or not. Like its previous incarnation, Civilisation III's battle feature is not very sophisticated, with units allocated hit points and levels such as veteran, elite etc., but ultimately the outcome is decided by a randomiser so you can end up with mad results like an Ancient period Hoplite defeating a tank from the Modern Age.
The graphics are several generations more advanced than in Civilisation II, lovely mapping over the main map, the buildings, units, etc, have all been redesigned and reworked, greater detailing, new colouring, and more. The animated heralds are gone but in their place are animated leaders in the diplomacy screen, wonderful detailing on these characters. Civ III also has a pleasing new musical score, with music really adding to the ambience of the game without being overwhelming or detracting.
Replayability is extensive - the game engine can create endless random maps to play on, you can play different civilisations, different opponents, a number of different difficulty settings and victory conditions, different map settings (such as age, climate etc.). Although there is always the feeling after having played it several times, no matter what the random map possibilities, that you've explored all there is to explore.