by Infogrames Entertainment
Platform: Windows 95 / 98 / Me / 2000
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Check price @ amazon.com , amazon.ca , amazon.co.uk
Sid Meier's name is synonymous with outstanding games, particularly turn-based strategy games. From the original Civilization to Colonization to Alpha Centauri, Meier has been behind some of the best games ever made. Now we can add Civilization III to the list. The third installment in Meier's signature series offers all the outstanding gameplay featured in the first two games while including new features and refinements that keep the series fresh and engaging.
Civilization 3 offers 16 playable civilizations, and each has its own strengths and bonuses. The game begins in the year 4000 B.C., when your civilization is nothing more than a primitive tribe, and each turn progresses the game forward in time. You manage growth, military production, city development, diplomacy, and scientific research as your civilization grows from a single village to several towns to a continent-spanning metropolitan sprawl. The fun is in deciding whether to research writing or the wheel, whether to build a musketeer to take out an encroaching enemy pikeman or direct your city to work on the culturally significant Sistine Chapel. There are five ways to win the game, ranging from wiping out the other civilizations with military power to defeating them through cultural dominance, which is one of several new victory conditions.
Fans of Meier's other turn-based games will find the same addictive gameplay present in Civilization III. Building off the gameplay are several new additions, specifically the new cultural rating and the new resource management options. Every turn, each civilization earns culture points based upon how many wonders and other culturally significant structures are built within its cities. The higher the culture rating, the faster your civilization's borders grow. If your border extends to an enemy city, it's possible to capture that city without shedding any blood; the city's citizens will be attracted by your culture and willingly rebel.
The other big change is that you must collect raw materials in order to build certain units. For example, oil and rubber are required to build modern units, and if those resources aren't within your territory, you'll need to negotiate with other civilizations for them. And because the game's negotiation process is very deep and involved, you may find yourself cut off from key raw materials if you're at odds with other civilizations, which, in turn, will weaken you militarily.
The AI powering rival civilizations is quite good, and is capable of negotiating complex arrangements with both your civilization and other civilizations. These negotiations run from simple trade agreements to complex mutual protection pacts, and it's not uncommon to find an enemy civilization taking steps to isolate you from the rest of the world.
There are a few minor issues with the game, most notably with unit imbalances and the tedious endgame, which can drag on forever. These are minor problems, however, and don't detract from the overall experience. Fans of Sid Meier's other games, or anyone looking for a fun and challenging gaming experience, owe it to themselves to pick up Civilization III. --P. Meyer
Pentium 300 MHz or faster processor
Microsoft Windows 95, 98, 2000, or Me
32 MB RAM
100 MB hard disk space (additional 50 MB needed for swap file)
4x or faster CD-ROM drive
DirectX 7-compatible video card
DirectX 7-compatible sound card