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Sid Meier's Civilization III: Conquests (Windows)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Xoleras (66269)
Written on  :  Oct 02, 2004
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Finally, maps bigger than small are now playable...

The Good

The best about Conquests is the introduction of the new population specializations, policeman and civil engineer. Why? Playing Play the World (or the basic Civ III), has one big disadvantage. Big Empires suffering from corruption (lost money income per town) and waste (lost shield production). For example, if you played a normal map with multiple continents, you would see the problem arising when you colonized/conquered cities about 2 screens away from your Capital (or Forbidden Palace). Those cities, even when they have >3 million inhabitants, having all production increasing buildings, and your empire would use a modern government like Democracy, these cities would still waste all shields except one, so you would need 60 rounds!!! to build a simple temple. Empire management was hard and annoying under normal and bigger maps.

Now you can assign not only tax-man, researcher and entertainer, but also policeman and civil engineer (once you researched them). What they do is simple, the policeman will reduce corruption and waste, while the civil engineer produces 2 shields regardless where the city is. Civil engineers can, like the name implies, only engineer civil (but also military) structures, but no units. With those two, you can easily manage empires under huge maps, without needing to buy every construction in every city.

Another good change is the victory status screen. Now you can actually see, how far you are with your current victory condition. This is particularly interesting with non-trivial game modes, like Cultural Victory or Domination. So you may now know why you still haven't won when you already controlled 80% of the world, as you also need at least 66% of the world population. All these values are now visible at the Victory Status screen, including enemy stats if you have plant spies.

For people, who find that Deity is to simple (or a bit to hard), the two new difficulty settings are a good addition.

About the new buildings/wonders/units: it's good to see the ancient warrior not lost in the industrial age, but now have upgrades for the modern era too. As usual, it is good to see new wonders. Now they are not just only good for non-militaristic players, but also for militaristic. Since two of them producing good military units (ancient cavalry & crusaders) automatically in an early state of the game. So, you can wage war without needing to shift the production to military units. But also for pacifist players, there are good wonders, like the one, which produces temples for all cities on the same continent. Very good for super continents and Cultural Victories.

The possibility to produce mobile flak/SAM units is also a very good new feature. Invasions on old games in the beginning of the modern era suffered most due to inability to counter air strikes, which now can be countered.

Finally, once Satellites are researched, you now see the whole world. At the old expansion pack, you could flight a spaceship to Proxima Centauri, but it could be that you still didn't knew the whole map.

The Bad

The new wonders. Why is this good and bad? For example, the wonder, which produces temples in all your cities will not just only stop producing temples in new cities when the wonder becomes obsolete, but all temples in all cities, which where "produced" by this wonder are gone too. So you must build them, which may slow your culture production.

Building the military wonders for a pacifist player, just to prevent enemies to build it, is also a bit annoying, since it produces those military units, regardless is you need them or not. Which have to be disband manually after producing to reduce the costs, if you don't want the units in the first place. A question about "do you want the unit" would be nice.

The Victory screen has also a downside, this is that only stats for the current selected Victory Conditions is visible. So, for example, if you have deselected Culture and Domination Victories, you won't see how you and your rivals ranking in territory percentage nor how good or bad other civilizations are with their culture. It would be easy to show all Victory Conditions, with say, non-valid grayed out, but unfortunately, they aren't their. :(

Two new difficulty setting, for others maybe good, for me useless. But that just because I'm a long-time Civilization newbie :). I'm playing most of the time Chieftain (easiest), just because when I try Monarch (one above Chieftain), then either the other civilizations deciding to "make a military alliance to destroy me" and I'm fighting a war on multiple fronts, or the world doing to much diplomacy and I'm again on the loosing side (A have pact with B, B with C, and C hates me). As for me, I really could need a new difficulty setting between Chieftain and Monarch.

It's maybe just me, but sometimes I think there is an option, while generating the world, which makes sure that luxuries aren't generated at the players location. Every time I play, I only have one or two luxuries, while each other civilization has plenty of them, so my people are crying and rampaging, while others are happy all the time.

But the biggest problem are the "impossible victories", which are just annoying. In the original Civilization, a phalanx could shoot down a bomber. Very realistic. Now, the enemy has a city with a wall, inside is a medieval knight. Just this knight. And I'm attacking with an fully intact army of 4 modern armored tanks (mid modern time). Result? The army flees because the knight has nearly smashed all tanks in the army. Or a nuclear submarine, loaded with a tactical nuke, is en route to the enemy territory. Underway it runs into a frigate (from the Colonial Age), results are as usual, the submarine sinks while the frigate is still undamaged.

There are plenty of new civilizations, but I think it was already enough variety with Play the World, there are so many, that it's hard to choose. But for me personally, I really hoped that one of the new civilizations will be a new Religious/Scientific civilization (great for Cultural Victory).

About the video sequences: When I installed the game, it looked like there are videos for the Conquest Scenarios, but why are so few (in fact only a single one) for the victories (or defeats). I mean, when you play the game, building the spaceship, then you see a video about the launch of the spaceship. Why was such a short sequence not possible for the other victories? So it is just one round the game runs normally, and at the other round, you get a tiny window with "You have won".

One thing about the manual: the Civ 3 manual was for Civ 3, the Play the World manual integrated the expansion's changes into the Civ 3 manual with something like "those features are additional in Play the World", so you could easily see, what has changed, where was an addition, etc. But they didn't done this with this expansion. Those places in the manual are still separated for original Civ 3 and the expansion, but they do not differentiate between Play the World and Conquests, so you can't see what have changed from the one expansion pack to the other.

Finally, even with the latest patch, I still experience an annoying bug. The civilization goes into a new era just too fast. Means, normally, when the last technology from an era is researched, you will move an era forward, and so moves your research tree. But I'm experiencing the problem, that once I researched the technology before the last one from the era, I prematurely jump into the new era. And when I forget this, it happens, that I have researched Space Flight, but my civilization does not know what Advanced Flight is. Particularly funny is it, when your civilization can travel to other stars, but does not know what Magnetism is...

The Bottom Line

As you may see, I'm unable to tell you, if the multiplayer or the Conquest Scenarios are good or bad, sorry.

For the rest, it's an expansion which is worth to have, even with the downsides.

For the Civilization fan of course, there is no way around it.