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Civilization II: Test of Time

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  Reviewed by Andy Grieser
September 5, 1999
Turn-Based Strategy
Hasbro Interactive
Thereís been something of a flap the past few years over the James Bond film franchise. One person owns the rights to the story for "Thunderball," but canít make a Bond flick with any other plot. Hence the sorta-Bond "Never Say Never Again," and possibly another remake in the near future.

Much the same thing happened with Civilization 2, one of the very best computer games of all time. Ever. Amen. See, Activision got a chunk of the license, and Microprose kept a chunk. And Sid Meier, the man behind the game, left and formed his own company which made a sorta-sequel.

Activisionís attempt (Call to Power) was not so hot. Meierís Alpha Centauri was, and has joined Civilization 2 among the best games around. Now we see the Microprose addition to the fray, andÖ

Our biggest reaction is confusion.

This is the same game, to be sure. But itís little more than a revamp of Civ 2: Fantastic Worlds, an add-on that featured scenarios built around the Civilization 2 engine. Hereís Midgard, for example, a swords-and-sorcery world. And thereís a future world, taking place on an alien planet.

The original has also been extended to the starshipís destination, once Alpha Centauri but now (with A.C. being used in that other game) Centaurus. Get there and you can start all over again, with alien races now among the competition. Plus, thereís still Earth to worry about once youíre on Centaurus.

This is the good part, folks.

The final result, unfortunately, is a mishmash that makes Civ fans want to pop in the game that started it all.

Which brings us to our first problem: Most of the movies are gone. Microprose says itís due to the large triple-game combination, and that players can pop in the Civ 2 CD-ROM if they really, really want to see them. Never a good sign to ask folks to put in a different game, is it? So, yes, the Wonder films are absent, as is the throne room.

The graphics have been given an overhaul, but are darker and blurrier now. Granted, the original graphics donít hold up, especially in the face of Alpha Centauri, but these prevent those hours-long gaming sessions we fondly remember. Theyíre simply too vague to stare at for very long without massive eye strain.

(That said, we love the new animated pieces. Now letís just make them brighter and sharper, mmmkay?)

The music is very nice, better even than that of the original game. Compositions segue very nicely into each other, though itís sometimes odd to hear the futuristic themes in the ancient times.

The fantasy and sci-fi scenarios are interesting, but never really compelling. Both are built directly on top of the Civilization 2 game, so while pieces and advances and Wonders are renamed, theyíre really the same old stuff. That makes it harder for players to fully explore the new worlds ó veterans will be too busy following the same old strategies. Thereís no incentive to stray from the tried-and-true path.

Alien races have been included, since folks get to go to Centaurus. But let the computer pick your opponents, and most often players will be competing against alien races at the dawn of time! Itís a sloppy mistake that wrenched us out of the game time and again.

Luckily, thereís lots of talk about this being a stopgap until Civilization 3. While that may sound bad, it means thereís a Civ 3 on the horizon, presumably with Meierís participation again. That can make this oneís failings a bit more bearable.

(Click to Enlarge)

Minimum Requirements...
Pentium 166 MHz; Windows 95/98; 16 MB RAM; quad-speed CD-ROM drive; 60 MB hard drive space; DirectX compatible sound card.


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