Civ 3 review
Developer: Firaxis
Publisher: Electronic Arts
reviewed by Great Bob


     I can tell I'm getting older.

    Staying up until 4:30 in the morning playing a video game pretty much drains the life out of me. Hell, when Civ 2 came out, I didn't sleep for two days and I was still fine. Anyways, let's go over a few basics before I give my immediate review of Civ 3.

    Civ 1 and 2 are, hands down, the best damn game ever made for a computer. I understand that people have different tastes, and everyone is entiltled to an opinion, but if you don't agree with that statement then it's to the back of the short bus with the rest of the special needs kids for you.

    Sid is a god. Not so much in the all knowing, pick a chosen people and put them through grief, nail your son to a tree sense. More along the lines of a member of the norse pantheon. Not perfect and all loving...just a god that kicks ass.

    The end of the 20th century was a tough time for us fans of turn based gaming goodness. In other words, when reviewing Civ 3 you have to put the game in context. If it had just been dropped out of the sky, with no previous Sid games or no Civ games ever made, I would be screaming from the top of the highest mountains on how frickin' incredible Civ 3. I would be selling my posessions, leaving my wife, and sending my son to be raised by Armenian yak herders until such time as I have time to pull myself away from the game. However, the game does have to be looked at in relation to the Civ series..and therefore, I can find little things to bitch about.

     Is the game good? Oh, hell yes. Is it great? Could there be any doubt about that? But is it perfect? Sadly, no.
I shall rule you all

    The good: Where to begin? Let's start off by saying that it's Civ, and all the Civ goodness is still evident in this product. You find yourself obsessed with it. You find yourself sitting in the shower thinking about where to direct your empire. Everything that worked in the first two work here. Equally as important, the game has been refined beyond where it was before. Let's take one example...resources. If you want to build horse units, you had better have some horses in one of your cities...or be willing to trade with another empire for them. This small change gives you a pressing need to expand and battle your enemies into submission. Wars fight over Iron resources, for example, take on a whole new dynamic. Trade too sees a major overhaul. No more building caravans to conduct trade. Instead you must build a series of roads or harbors and conduct real negotiations for the trade goods you need.

    The bad: The changes in the game rules seem explicitly desgined to ruin my finely crafted strategy of empire building. Let me explain. My strategy in Civ games has allways been that of the crafty builder. My empire stays in a state of relative peace while I develop technology and wonders. Most of my towns sit undefended except for a resistance against barbarian attacks. I build a perfect society of peace and science...until I develop an overwhelming military technology and then roll over my enemies with tanks in the 3rd or 4th century. My strategy is enhanced by forceing the development of wonders. In Civ 3, I can't do this. you can't rush wonders, the tech curve makes it nearly impossible to dominate other nations, and the AI is more agresive in pushing it's borders. Is this a bad thing? For me it is.

    The ugly: If anyone ever wondered what Brian Renyolds brought to the party when working with Sid, one just has to look at this game in comparison to SMAC. In SMAC the level of customization could be set as per the players wish. You could desgin your own units, set the rules the way you prefer them, and play the game the way you wished to play it. Not so in Civ 3. Civ 3 is more straightforward in the way which it presents the game experience. In some ways it's like comparing Windows to Linux. Both have their strengths, but in many respects I miss some of the flexibility in SMAC.

    Civ 3 is a better game than SMAC is, but the limitations in the rules are definatly felt. Then again, I'm just bitching about minor facets of the game. There is no doubt that this is the best damn strategy game to come out since SMAC was released years ago. It lives up to the Civ name, and is adictive in the special way the series has allways been. Hell, any free time I have (and still looking for a job, i have plenty of it) will be spent with the game. It's a game that every person who considers themselves a strategy game enthusiast MUST have on their hardrive. It's much luv, and makes my pants tingle when I think about it.