Written by  :  Kelvin Chan (4)
Written on  :  Jul 21, 2000
Platform  :  Windows

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A Great Sequel to the Civ Series

The Good

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (SMAC) is one title that had not failed to disappoint. It is just as enjoyable as the "official" Civ series, and more. The interface, although not much changed from the Civ games, has been touched up to perfection. Game play is intuitive. That fact is highly impressive. The early levels provide in-depth explanations on almost every aspect of the game, which makes flattens the learning curve. Help is even more comprehensive than Civ II. Battles are also well balanced. The units in SMAC can be customized extensively, because each unit is a combination of components. This makes the creation of good defensive units or special offensive units a new possibility. It always feels good to create a customized AA unit just as the needlejets come in and get crushed by anti-aircraft defense. The game plotline is amazingly superb. When a character that contolled one of my units was killed by a unit of a foreign base, the game renamed the base in her honour when I captured it (yeah, characters, although in reality one never notices them). The Secret Project (Wonder) movies are great, ranging from the hilarious (Network Backbone is a great joke on Microsoft) to the beautiful (Telepathic Matrix is a great one to watch) to the macabre (Neural Amplifer and Dream Twister freaky guy). Although some of these items seem to be extraneous, they do not take away from the great play. This is definitely one of those stay-up-all-night games!

The Bad

SMAC is great, but it isn't perfect. The graphics are much more drabby and dark than Civ II. As one review put it, one seems to be fighting over a blob of "plum pudding". Units are hard to distinguish, although this is not totally the fault of Firaxis, as extensive unit customization means that it is inevitable that some units look similar in order for components to fit a wide range of units. Nevertheless, sending an infantry unit to take out a base just to find that it's an artillery unit and won't kill anyone really sucks! Finally, if you're looking for innovations, there really aren't that much in this game. Almost everything has a counterpart in Civ II.

The Bottom Line

This is a great game to have. It's definitely addicting because it's such an in-depth game to play, and if you get bored, there are plenty of online mulitplayer resources out there. I find the all-night SMAC sessions better than the Civ II session, if only for the plot. =)