Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization PC CD
Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: Firaxis Games
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst most turn-based strategy fans are always looking forward to the next Sid Meier's Civilization title, there are other Sid Meier games sequels which are longed for. Alpha Centauri and Colonization are just two of the games that easily spring to mind as two strategy sequels I've wanted to see for the last three years. Whilst it's unknown whether we will ever see a sequel to Alpha Centauri, it's great that at long last we have a sequel to Sid Meier's Colonization, even if it is in the guise of a standalone expansion for Sid Meier's Civilization IV.
In Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization you'll play as New England, New France, New Spain or New Holland. As you all probably know, the game begins with you setting sail for the Americas. The basic idea of the game is to settle in the Americas choosing to either befriend or make enemies of the natives. Eventually your people will want their freedom from the motherland and when the time is right, you'll have to fight for your independence to escape their greedy clutches. Like the Civilization games, the replay value here is endless even though the basic goals are more focused. As well as being able to play a normal game there are a collection of scenarios to play such as Northwest Passage (which includes North America and Canada), South America and a couple of Western Hemisphere (featuring both a normal and huge map of both North and South America). There are seven difficulty settings (ranging from Pilgrim to Revolutionary) and for each nation you can play as, there are two possible leaders to choose from such as George Washington, John Adams, Samuel de Champlain, Simon Bolivar and Peter Stuyvesant. There are multiplayer options too, with support for LAN, Internet, Hotseat and Play-by-E-mail games.
A lot goes on between setting sail for the Americas and fighting for independence and it's as intriguing and enjoyable as any Civilization game to date. Whilst you can take an aggressive stance against the indigenous tribes it's not a good idea to do so at first as they can prove to be a great help to your settlements, when they are in their infancy, by providing gifts. You'll have to make sure each settlement produces enough food to sustain your population but you'll also want to make sure they are producing goods (by taking raw materials and turning them into manufactured goods) so that you can trade and profit from them. Most of the units you'll acquire in the game are imported from Europe. You'll find some of them waiting at the docks for you but you can pay to recruit them too. There are expert and master specialist units (that should be used to carry out their specific skilled trade) as well as pioneers, colonists, natives you've converted and missionaries to name but a few of the units in the game. There's more micromanagement in Colonization than there was in Civilization IV and you'll have to tinker with the running of your settlements much more than you had to adjust the running of your cities in Civ IV.
Whilst some elements of Civilization IV are still present, such as culture, warfare and diplomacy etc., some elements in the game are unique to Colonization. One of the main differences in Colonization is the concept of the Founding Fathers, for instance, which adds a unique twist to the experience. The Founding Fathers offer bonuses that can really give you an edge against your rivals. Acquiring a Founding Father will cost you Founding Father Points however and there are five different types of Founding Fathers: Political, Religious, Exploration, Trade and Military and each of these types have their respective points. You'll earn points by carrying out the relevant actions. Exploration, for instance, will earn you exploration points and so forth. Ben Franklin, for example, is a political Founding Father and will cost you 672 political Founding Father points. He offers +3 liberty bells for each printing press and +3 liberty bells for each newspaper which is quite a good bonus to have. Founding Fathers are offered to you at specific points and you have to decide whether or not to acquire them or save your points for a later Founding Father who will be more expensive. The Founding Fathers add a nice extra layer of strategy to the game and it's one of those features that make Colonization a different experience.
As great a game as Colonization is there a few ways in which it could have been better. Probably the biggest issue most will have with the game is that it doesn't have a proper tutorial. Yes, there are tutorial messages that provide a little instruction but it's no substitution for a real tutorial. Colonization does a fair few things differently from Civilization IV and it can be a baffling experience at first and the tutorial messages that appear simply aren't good enough in explaining some of the game's finer points. Civilization IV had a tutorial which was rather effective and it's a shame that the developers didn't do the same for Colonization. Probably the only other disappointment I had with the game was the absence of Portugal as a playable nation.
If you've played Civilization IV you'll recognise some similarities between that game and Colonization which is no surprise as they both use the same game engine. Of course there are units and buildings that are unique to Colonization. Even though the game engine has been used for a few years now the visuals on offer still look absolutely fine for a turn-based strategy title and the performance remains good on even mediocre PCs. The general presentation of the game is absolutely fine. The interface has been restyled in keeping with the game's theme. Colonization is just as deaf gamer friendly as Civilization IV. All of the dialogue in the game is text only (with the exception of a few words in the opening movie which aren't subtitled but it's of no importance).
Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization is one of the best strategy games you'll play this year and is a must for all those who enjoyed the original Sid Meier's Colonization. Whilst the game may have Civilization IV in the title, it's quite a different experience from that game and it certainly would be a mistake to think that this is simply a themed version of Civilization IV because there's much more to it than that. Personally my only disappointments with the game are that a proper tutorial hasn't been included to show people just how different an experience Colonization is to Civilization IV and that the Portuguese are not a playable nation. In every other respect the game is very impressive and just as enjoyable as the original Sid Meier's Colonization.