One of the best strategy games ever.
Just about everything. Basically, it has the addictive qualities that few games can match, and will hook you very easily. It's varied enough so that there's incentive to play, and fairly well balanced, although perhaps not as much as its pseudosequel, Alpha Centauri. It uses recognizable icons from human history, so it draws you in, as you can identify with the subject material. It's hard to describe all that's right with this game-there's just too much. The Gold edition also has scenarios from the expansion packs that are varied and rather interesting, as well as the multiplayer, which works fairly well (at least over a LAN.)
-Lots- of micromanagement as your empire expands. The AI pathfinding is somewhat braindead, so if you're playing on a large map, it's a pain to maneuver units all the way across. You can't group units, so you have to individually move each. The automatic build orders for your cities don't always work, either, and they build stuff that you don't always need. Graphics are crisp, but not spectacular, and there's no multiplayer in the original.
The Bottom Line
Simply awesome. Civilization II may not be a huge leap over the original, but it fine tunes everything in the original to create a polished and highly addictive game.