Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Civilization IV: Colonization, by BoltAction

Civilization IV: Colonization
Freecol gets a Facelift

Those of you that have played Freecol will recognize Civilization IV: Colonization (hereafter referred to as Civcol) as a remake of this game, using the engine from Civ IV instead of that of Civ II, with updated gameplay and graphics. Those of you that have not (sad, sad folk), will find a simple but addictive game modeling the development of civilization from unclaimed wilderness. Except for the fact that the land was already claimed by Native Americans. But then, that's what muskets are for!

The player starts off with one ship, one soldier (i.e. colonist with gun) and one Pioneer (i.e. colonist with tool). As the game continues, the player establishes cities, harvests rescources, manufactures goods, and sells them to Europe. Them comes back with guns and slays some natives. I enjoyed the simple mechanics of starting the colony. Colonists are defined by what they do. Men with guns become soldiers, men with tools become pioneers, and since there are no women, the game uses an accurate expression of the origins of life as percieved by scientists of the time, with new colonists springing fully formed formed piles of wheat.

As the colony develops, more and more people will be required to produce liberty bells, which build rebel sentiment and increase production efficiency. The player also recieves members of the continental congress, which provide special bonuses to things like production, religion (which inspires immigration) and the cost of goods.

Colonists harvest resources from the squared around their cities, and then create goods in the buildings in the cities. Since any colonist can do anything, the game has a freeform, organic feel. Wanna buys a ton of guns from europe and create a roving army of former criminals? Go ahead. Want to establish a trade empire based on tobacco manufacture with farms run by converted natives? You're free to do so! Build up tons of rebel sympathies and declare war on your former owners? "NOT GONNA HAPPEN," cries the king, right before he sends a buttload of professional soldiers to stomp on your uppity, wigged ass.

My complaints about the game are few, and this is one of them: the only way to win the game is to declare independance and then fight off the royal expeditionary force, perhaps a subtle jab at Canadian foreign policy. And this must be completed by the yea 1776, which is a problem, because the game does not implement the Civilization IV policy of slowing down time as the game progresses, which means that you have a paltry 384 years to complete the monumental task of establishing a colonial empire, developing an army, and breaking away from a vengeful European monarch. This is especially difficult in a combat system that seems to be incredibly faulty (veteran soldier in fortess defeated by indian brave on horse? What???).

Aside form this, a number of the problems that plagued freecol have been fixed, such as natives not showing up in the foreign policy screen. Overall, the game is an excellent improvement, both graphically and in gameplay, of freecol, and a fun management/strategy.

Gameplay: 15/20
Storyline: 10/25
Graphics: 3/5
Streamlined: 10/10
Innovation: 5/15
Fun: 20/25

Overall: 63/100

For the Optimists:
-In-depth but easy-to-learn system
-Open-ended for a strategy game

For the Pessimists:
-Faulty combat system
-Continenetal congress a bit confusing

I, BoltAction, recommend Civilization IV: Colonization if you like economically focused strategy games.

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