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SummaryIt's good... it's very good... but it's not more than that, unfortunately...
The GoodIt's Sid Meier's Civilization. That alone means it's a really good game. You know the drill - you play a human race from the stone age to modern times and try to use diplomacy, force, science, etc. to beat the other races in varying levels of difficulty. The game is turn-based and very in-depth, while maintaining an excellent in-game tutorial and learning curve. City management, funds allocation, scientific breakthroughs, wonders of the world, diplomacy and more are part of the game, and depending on your choice of game settings, require an incredible amount of micromanagement. There's nothing that's not to like about this game...
The Bad...except that it's nothing new. It's Civilization I all over again with a few (albeit good) additional features and, of course, better graphics. I haven't played Civ I in years, never played Civ II, never read the manual to Civ III and STILL managed to play the game flawlessly the first time I played it, THAT'S how similar it is. I know, sports coaches always say "never change a winning team", but come on.
I own - and love - Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri an awful lot... in my eyes, perhaps the best game of it's kind ever. And it's four years old. Now, Alpha Centauri has a lot of features that Civ III does not have - awesome mini movies when you build a wonder, a background storyline, voiceover whenever you build a city enhancement for the first time, better unit experience system, customization of units, etc. etc. As a matter of fact, if I showed both Alpha Centauri and Civ III both games to a person who has never seen either, he'd likely guess that Alpha Centauri is the never, more developed game. That's not a good thing, folks.
The Bottom LineIf you don't own the original Civilization, Civ II or Alpha Centauri, go buy Civ III. Buy it now. It's THAT good, but it's nothing new if you own any of the older Sid Meier games. If you are a Sid Meier fanatic, still get it, the additional features will likely be worth it for you.
Put it this way. I work at a CompUSA and got the game at cost for little over $20. I'm happy that I got it. If I had paid the $59.95 or whatever when it first came though, I would likely have been disappointed since it's not really a new game. Perhaps they should have done it like Microsoft - pay the full time if you're a first time Civ user, or a fraction of the cost if you already have the older Sid Meier Civilizations.
Remember Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace? It was a fun, decent movie... but many people were disappointed. Not because it was bad... but because, goshdarnit, it was Star Wars, and it was supposed to be *groundbreaking*, not just mere "good". That's the same way I feel about Civ III. It's Sid Meier, it's Civilization III, it's supposed to blow me away instead of just having me say "that's a good game".