The Civilization series of games is one of the most famous ever to grace the PC. Engineered by that strategy genius Sid Meier, it has gone through a few incarnations. When he left, it switched its name to Call to Power, still keeping the same core gameplay.
If you’re not familiar with how Civilization works, it gives you the reigns over a nation’s development, from the very first settlement (the game begins in 4000 BC) to futuristic times (2300 AD – a tad optimistic, don’t you think?) when you vie to build advanced technologies.
Other nations populate the globe (controlled by the computer, or other players in the multiplayer mode) and you have to compete with these in economic, military and diplomatic terms. The strongest nation will win either by pure military subjugation, or through a scientific or diplomatic coup – failing any of those, in 2300 AD the nation with the highest ‘Civilization’ score (the basic measure of power) wins.
This sequel to Call to Power, which is effectively Civilization 4, has the same look about it. However, there have been quite a few changes, mainly to the game mechanics and the interface. The biggest transformation is the down-sizing of the amount of micromanagement in the game. Automatic resource usage has been implemented in the cities you control, so you don’t have to fiddle about trying to decide how best to employ a city’s resource squares.
A City Mayor has been added too, and if you enable this feature, the production process in a city will be automatically controlled. Basically, your cities can be left to run themselves needing only mild supervision while you concentrate on the big diplomatic picture.
Also overhauled is the game interface, which now has context-sensitive right click menus to make giving orders to your units that much easier. A new circular menu at the bottom of the screen gives quick access to advisors and other vital status screens. It’s all really neatly organised, which is handy because in a game of this complexity the less you have to fiddle with the interface, the better.
A range of small but effective tweaks has been applied to the gameplay across the board; trade routes now generate a revenue in parity with their length and scarcity of the goods, the diplomatic options available to nations are much more diverse, and new real life historical scenarios can also be sampled.