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City Management is a critical part of the game. As the population grows, so does its problems. As supreme ruler, god, etc... it's up to you to keep your citizens happy and productive. This can be accomplished in several ways: good government, fair taxation and building wonders of the world. Wonders are an interesting concept in the game. They allow the player to have special powers such as longer turns when exploring the oceans to keeping your citizens happy. Governments run from pure anarchy (no government) all the way to democracies and each type has its pros and cons. Trying to quickly take over as much land as possible, I chose to remain a despot throughout the game. While the citizens weren't as happy with the situation as they could have been, I offset my rule with lower taxes and the building of wonders of the world.
Choosing a democracy instead, allows your cities to concentrate more on commerce and production and less on war. In fact, your citizens will want to avoid war as much as possible. Since I knew this would happen, I avoided this choice. I wanted to annihilate my opponent as soon as possible and did not want any uprisings.
Another key element of the game is the development of advances. Advances are the inventions that make our civilizations move ahead. The first advances range from the development of the wheel to pottery or the alphabet. Naturally, each advance allows a new advance to be discovered. The invention of the wheel allowed the chariot to be invented and so on. Ultimately, the player has to invent the necessary components to build the rocket ship to get off the planet. This is an incredibly difficult challenge.
The passage of time changes throughout the game. Initially every turn counts as twenty years, and as the game progressed eventually, the years pass in smaller increments, until each turn counts as one year. While 6000 years seems like a long time, in the game it goes by very quickly. The player spends most of his/her time waiting for advances to happen so that an edge in either technology or weaponry can be used against any enemies - whether they are computer or human. Computer enemies can be pretty ferocious on the more difficult levels. One can chose up to seven different civilizations or as little as three. The smaller the number of civilizations, the longer it takes until your first encounter. Civilizations also have more time to build up their cities and conquering them is not as easy as when there are many empires. When there are many empires, the land mass has to be divided into smaller parts and bumping into someone can happen quite quickly.
Game documentation is very extensive (the manual is over two hundred pages long) and covers every aspect of the game in detail. When first confronted with it I was pretty intimidated. Who wants to read 200 pages just to learn to play a game? Well, you don't have to. The beginning of the manual has a small tutorial that teaches you how to play the essential part of the game. As the player becomes more proficient, the manual serves as a reference, and as a source of new information. A good example of this is the ability to decide whether a city whose population is fifty thousand and over will have a stress on taxation, entertainment or science. Each one provides a distinct service. A tax man will collect more revenue and less will be lost to the black market and corruption. An entertainer will make citizens happy, thereby increasing production and a scientist will focus more of the cities intellectual resources towards achieving advances at a faster pace.
Also included is a reference card that details how many resources each type of land can produce, the order that advances appear, the attack\defense and movement strengths of mobile units, ground units, city improvements and wonders of the world.
Sound effects in the game are not very well developed. With the exception of a heralding horn that blows when an important step in the game is done, most sounds are beeps. The sound track is not that bad and plays directly off the CD. Graphics in the game are not that wonderful either. The essential problem with all simulations is their inherent concentration on game play only combined with only the most functional graphics. While CivNet boasts improved better graphics, they are not that wonderful with the same view from above as found in the orginal game. Having followed in the steps of Sim-City 2000 in that regard Civilization II is a major improvement.
Having said that, don't let it deter you from purchasing the game. It offers many hours of intense game play and is completely replayable time and time again. This is one of the few games that delivers good value for the buck. Besides, where else can you get the awesome feeling of utterly crushing your best friend without remorse?
Written by Anil Chhabra
486 DX-33 MHz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
MS-DOS 5.0 or later,
Windows 3.1 or higher,
Hard drive required,
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
SVGA video graphic card,
Microsoft mouse and 100% compatibles.
Windows compatible sound cards.
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