August 28, 2011

Repost: On the Virtues of Civilization, Part III

Reposted from WildWeazel

In Part II I described my introduction to the Civilization series. At this point, I've been playing Civ1 for a few years and have a serious case of "(Just) One More Turn Syndrome".

Since I didn't start playing Civ until around the time Civilization II was released, I missed the sequel. Instead, my next Civilization game was Civilization: Call to Power, a spin-off by Activision. In 7th grade I received CtP as a reward for making it to the oral rounds of the regional spelling bee. This time I got the whole product, including the large tech tree and statistics poster, and the official strategy guide, both of which were put to good use. CtP immediately became my new favorite game, and although I occasionally went back to Civ for the sake of nostalgia I enjoyed CtP much more.

Call to Power introduced many new concepts, especially to a Civ1 player. Public works improvements, unconventional warfare including slavery and propaganda, undersea and space cities and improvements, and combined arms combat all added depth to the game. A wide variety of civilizations, units, and buildings rounded out the options, ensuring that no two games could ever be the same.

I only vividly remember one game, playing as Germany on a large and populated map. I had built Berlin into the greatest city in the world, probably to the detriment of the rest of my nation. I owned a large portion of a major continent, but was locked into a stalemate with Canada on a peninsula to my southeast. For some reason I never rebuilt a major invasion force after my initial land grab, but resorted to extended stealth-bombing and ground skirmishes. Meanwhile, Brazil owned most or all of another continent in the north, and after establishing itself as a world power had continued to strengthen until none dared oppose it. It seemed content to peacefully enjoy an exponential increase in power, until I finally got frustrated at the near-impossibility of actually winning the game and decided to attack. I built several nukes and launched them adjacent to several Brazilian cities (to avoid being intercepted by the overpowered War Walkers who automatically shot down incoming air units), only to be put into my place a few turns later as hordes of Hovertanks skimmed across the ocean onto my lawn.

Speaking of War Walkers and Hovertanks, CtP had some crazy mixed in with its ingenuity. I was all for the extended future eras and expanded gameplay, but units like Eco Rangers and Televangelists were a bit on the eccentric side, and the deep-future technologies felt tack-ed on just for the cool value. Overall though, it was a well-designed and attractive product. It easily kept me entertained and addicted for the next year and a half, until the best game ever made was released.

Continued in Part IV

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