Civilization II

software review by Woelke Leithart

Civilization II is a computer game, published by Microprose in 1996. It is available in most computer stores. It is the sequel to Civilization. Sid Meier wrote the original game, and so the new game is officially called Sid Meier's Civilization II.

In Civilization II, or Civ II, you are the ruler of a nation, which begins in 4000 B.C. with only a group of wandering settlers. After building your first city, you then decide whether to build military units. Your alternative is to make improvements to the city.

When you begin, you do not know what your random world looks like. Except for the areas you have already explored, the rest of the map is dark. You can build more cities to increase your cash flow, and you can conquer enemy cities.

As you explore the world, you will meet other empires. You can choose whether to be pleasant, neutral, or belligerent. If you really want to be their friends, you can sign an alliance, in which case you must help them if they are attacked. In turn, they may decide to exchange knowledge with you, and help defend your borders.

The only units you have at the beginning of your Civ II game are warriors, who carry clubs and wear animal skins. You must decide whether to fund your scientists, so that they can discover advances, such as an Alphabet, the Wheel, and, eventually, Stealth Bombers. The advances follow the true development of technology. An Alphabet comes before Writing and Literacy. They need navigation to produce efficient ships. If you do not fund your science, then discoveries come every 350 turns or so, instead of every twelve turns.

You not only discover military units, such as knights that come with Chivalry, and city improvements, such as temples and harbours, but also new forms of government. You begin as a Despotism, but can also have a Monarchy, Republic, Democracy, and more. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

The ultimate goal is to either conquer the world, or be the first to colonize the stars. If you are a powerful empire, you may wish for world domination. If you are small, and do not have a large science output, you can steal technology from more advanced civilizations by using diplomats or spies.

One thing that I do not like about the Civ II setup is that it gives you the opportunity to use the Cheat mode. In this way, you can blow up other cities with nuclear missiles in 3000 B.C. This detracts from your score, and is not really much fun, because no one can fight back effectively.

Civ II is an amazingly complex game but, when boiled down to the basics, it is only a more complicated Risk game. You do not learn much geography from it, as the maps are randomly generated - although you can create your own. You do, however, learn some sense of scientific developments, because they generally come about the same time as in real life. Included with the game is a World War II scenario, in which you can play Churchill, the leader of the Allies. In this scenario, the world and civilizations are historically accurate.

Civilization II is a great game, and I heartily recommend it.

Copyright © Family Matters 1997