Keep up with the Jones'... global style!

Civilization logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

MICROPROSE * £34.99 * 1 meg * Mouse/keyboard * Out now

There are some sick people out there, kids. And it's all the fault of your computer. I know that is a pretty stupid thing to say, just like saying that listening to creaky old metal bands turns you into a foaming Satanist, but I reckon it could be true.

A certain type of game has arisen that stirs up some very unpleasant emotions in us human beings, and it encourages us to indulge these feelings. It tells us that it is right to be cruel, power-crazed maniacs, and that it is the only way to win. It is the "God game", and by Jiminy, here is the biggest so far.

There are a small minority out there in Amigaland. A wandering band of nomads. They are the ones who felt that Powermonger didn't give them enough power, that Populous 2 left them with an appetite for more, Mega-lo-mania wasn't mega enough, and that Sim City just didn't kick butt.

Civilisation is a game written just for them. Sickos that they are. The scope of this game is pretty uncanny. Just create a civilisation. That is all you have to do. Build towns, develop society, and basically advance your civilisation from the Stone Age right into the future. Tsk, is that all?

You start with just one unit - some settlers to be exact. You know nothing about your surroundings, your fellow civilisations, or even what is going to happen. Use the settlers to wander around the map to begin with, revealing the landscape as they go. Any unexplored land is shown as black, but as you traverse it reveals itself. Clever, eh?

Once you have explored as far as you can, tell the settlers to, well, settle and they will found their very first city. Name the city, and then you can get on with building stuff. Military units perhaps, or if you fancy a peaceful existence, start to build the essentials for a comfortable existence.

To begin with, things will be pretty basic, but by instructing your scholars to work on certain skills, you can advance as a civilisation. For instance, if they discover bronze working, you start to build better weapons, if they discover navigation you can build ships to explore the rest of the planet. On the other hand, you can work on the social aspects, by developing different ways of thinking - communism, the republic monarchy and so on - and learning how to build libraries and universities.

Help your cities thrive and grow, keep ahead of your neighbours by constantly developing new sciences, and most of all surround your towns with plenty of hefty military units.

You see, you are certainly not alone in this game. There are the other civilisations for a start. Before you begin playing, you can set how many others there will be, but if one civilisation gets wiped out then another rises in its place. That way, there will always be the set number of civilisations. Thanks a bunch. And on top of all that, you will probably have run-ins with barbarians.

They tend to be a bit hard, but unlike you they cannot develop new weapons as quickly or found cities. So you can soon kick their hairy heads in.

Make friends with other leaders, declare wars on others, exchange or steal ideas, build a bigger and better civilisation until the game ends. This happens in one of three instances. Your civilisation being crushed is the most obvious (and most frequent), or maybe you could crush all the others (highly unlikely and very violent). The third way to end the game is the most intriguing and one that shows you just how much depth Civilisation has. The first civilisation to master space travel and to reach Alpha Centauri is automatically declared the supreme Big Cheese. Space travel? Yes! Apparently, if you can get your civilisation brainy enough you can conquer the stars. Yowsers.

So that, in a very edited form, is the idea behind the game. But, I hear you cry, "What is it like to play, Uncle Daniel?". It is very good indeed.

Admittedly, it looks crap and there is no animation to speak of, and it is pretty slow moving to start with, and there is a hell of a lot of information to digest. But once you start playing, I guarantee you will be hooked. The game has been cleverly designed, so it is almost impossible to turn it off.

All the time, there is something in the pipeline, you start telling yourself "I will turn it off when I have developed Alphabet" and then it is "Ooh, I will wait until I have finished this boat" and then "I will just have a look around this island" and, well you get the idea.

In fact, you are lucky to be reading this review at all. Every time I started playing I ended up losing half a day to the flippin' thing. It is addictive. Dangerously addictive, in fact.

It is not helped by the fact that the game looks really dull. "1985 strategy game" is what the graphics bellow. If any of your mates see you playing this they will think you have cracked up. Only when they decide to have a go themselves they will see the folly of their ways.

I am a sucker for games that let you do whatever you feel like dong. And that is why Civilisation is currently occupying my every waking hour.

Ever wondered what would happen if America was a Communist state? Or if England was invaded by Zulus? Or if the Chinese invented nuclear weapons in the Middle Ages? Well, this game lets you find out. It is a bit like Mega-lo-mania meets Sim City via Populous Avenue.

The PC version wangled loads of awards last year, and quite rightly so. I hesitate to wander so far into the realms of cliché, but every game of Civilisation I have played has been completely different.

The only downers are the over-long intro that cannot be skipped, and the spooky way that you cannot move from one space adjacent to an enemy city to another adjacent space. Still, an essential purchase for any self-respecting fan of strategy games. More depth than Oliver Reed's wine cellar.

Civilization logo Amiga Format Gold

So you wanna know what a real epic is like? Well then forget the game of the name, and instead check out Ben Hur's big brother. The new way of life is Civilization.

Everyone should have heard of Civilization by now - if you haven't, then the dark thing above your head is a stone, and you really should crawl out from under it. The Civilization we're talking about here isn't your 'speak BBC newsreader English, and use the correct spoon for the soup'-type civilisation. Oh no. We're talking the ultimate transcendental experience here, but spelt with that awful all-American 'zee'. Civilization, Sid Meier's latest strategy lifestyle-ruiner, is here.

You, as guide and father figure to a tribe of settlers, hold the destiny of the entire world in your trembling hands. Man, you're bigger than the gods - if only because, in Civilization's terms, you predate them all. Well, almost all - Sid Meier was there first, apparently.

On first glance, you could easily be fooled into thinking it's only a game, but then it's only when you've played Civilization for a while that it starts to play you, rather than the other way round. Unlike Meier's Railroad Tycoon which let you play trains for a mere hundred years, Civilization goes on for around 6,000 years, and you can become very attached to your offspring in that space of time.

City of tiny lights
Your objectives are simple enough: start with one icon (a unit of settlers) and create a city. Then use that city to create military units to explore and conquer the world. The further they roam, the more of the world is uncovered. You'll find new places to put down roots, seas to be crossed, trade routes to open and occasionally new civilisations to be fought or bargained with.

You're constantly expanding, consolidating and learning ideas. You take on the role of colonial leader, resource manager, military, general, taxman, scientist, priest, entertainer and diplomat, to name just the most frequent tasks.

So much strategy is daunting at first, just like it was in Railroad Tycoon, but there in lies the secret of Civilization's success; the more time you spend getting your head round the subtleties of Civilization, the more it hooks you in. It's easy enough to pick up and play, learning as you go - you'll last a long time, unless you're incredibly reckless or extremely unlucky. Soon your humble tribal beginnings start to look like they could rule the world, and then there's no putting it down.

You become obsessed with 'doing it to them better/faster/more than they're doing it to you' and before long, you're squeezing those crucial extra advantages out of Civilization's surprisingly understandable rules. But mastery of the art of Civilization takes more than just a few games. Much like the style of Railroad Tycoon, Civilization has four levels of skill with numerous options to increase the overall difficulty. You're going to be at it for years before you really 'wear out the game'.

You become obsessed with doing it to them better/fast/more than they're doing it to you.

Let's get civilized
Civilization's sheer mass poses a few problems: greedy, but gotta-have graphics make a heavy demand on the Amiga's chip RAM, causing it to skip some of the interesting graphics which depict your progress. Amigas with only half a meg of chip RAM suffer a bit, even when running from hard drive. (As we go to press, the UK side of MicroProse is busy sending its top-ranking Amiga programmers over to the US in an effort to cure this problem. Some early versions of the program will doubtless suffer this chip RAM headache, but MicroProse will be replacing them on request. New versions should be OK - check with your dealer when you buy).

The Auto-save function prevents all this being too heart-rending, thank heavens - and even in the worst situation, all you'll miss is a few graphics - the rest of the game plays fine. A500 Plus owners should be fine, and running from floppy is possible on most machines without problems - it's a bit slow, but it works. With four disks in the pack that's a fair bit of swapping, though it by no means makes the game unplayable.

It's rather strange that something so serious-looking can in fact be so appealing; there are plenty of spreadsheet-like screens and tough, almost corporate-level decisions to take, but it's still pure, addictive fun. Civilization is the kind of game that'll make your friends think you've become a recluse, or give your spouse ideas about divorce. People on the 'outside' just won't be able to see the attraction; people who've been 'Civilized' will emerge at the end of the game, bleary eyed and proud, with a knowledge of history and creation that applies as much to the real world as it does to their private one.

Meier and his team have done it again, making the war games and god-games that have gone before look like hollow, not-quite-there experiences. Until now there's been nothing in the deep-strategy market that's ideal for beginners to play. Civilization is child's play to pick up, and has the kind of lastability that's so, so rare these days. But, having created the almost-perfect strategy masterpiece, there's just one problem: what on earth does Meier have to come up with next? For now, I don't care - I've got eight million people and 20 declining cities to look after!

The visitor's guide to the Civilization city info screen.
Civilization: Visitor's guide
  1. Residents and their current occupations.
  2. Food production per turn.
  3. Luxuries, cash and research per turn.
  4. Armies and units this city pays for.
  5. Resource production per turn.
  6. Trade and corruption per turn.
  7. The happiness of your residents.
  8. Don't like the city name? Change it!
  9. The item currently being produced in this city, and the progress so far.
  10. The actual terrain around the city.
  11. Public buildings and world wonders already established in this city.

Civilization logo Amiga Joker Hit

Obwohl dieses Game erst vor gut sechs Monaten für den PC erschienen ist, sind sich die Software-Strategen bereits einig, daß wir es hier mit einem Klassiker von morgen zu tun haben - klaro, schließlich hatte Oberpirat und Eisenbahntycoon Sid Meier die erfolgsverwöhnten Finger im Spiel!

Kein Wunder also, wenn Civilization zunächst als Nachfolger zu "Railroad Tycoon" gehandelt wurde, grafisch sind sich die beiden Programme auch wirklich etwas ähnlich - Vogelperspektive, viel Grün und "Sim City"-artige Landschaften gibt's hüben wie drüben.

Doch spielerisch geht's hier um ganz etwas anderes, nämlich um den Aufbau und die Verteidigung einer Zivilisation mit allen Kriegs- und Handelsmitteln.

Am Anfang entscheidet man darüber, welche Sorte Chef (Häuptling, Feldherr, Prinz, König, Kaiser) man sein möchte, dadurch wird auch der Schwierigkeitsgrad bestimmt. Anschließend kommt die Zahl der gewünschten Computergegner dran, wobei es sich mit zwei bösen Nachbarn natürlich leichter leben läßt als mit dem Maximum von sechs Konkurrenten. Tja, und dann darf man sich auch schon ins wunderschöne Jahr 4000 vor Christus stürzen, denn dort beginnt die lange Entwicklungsgeschichte, um erst im Raumfahrtzeitalter zu enden - sofern alles gutgeht...

Zunächst sollte man seinem barbaren-völkchen mal die Gründung einer Stadt nahelegen, denn die bildet den Ausgangspunkt für die ganzen Siedlertrecks, mit Keulen bewaffneten Stoßtrupps und sonstigen Expeditionen, mit denen man seinen Horizont Stück für Stück erweitert. Im Grunde dreht sich dann immer alles ums Erforschen, Erobern, Besiedeln und Handel treiben, wobei der Schwerpunkt eindeutig im militärischen Bereich liegt. Nur daß man sich anfangs mit solchen Dingen wie dem Töpfereiwesen, der Anlegung von Trampelpfaden und dem Bau von Ruderbooten auseinandersetzen muß, während später fremde Kontinente erkundet werden und die Erfindung bzw. Anwendung der ausgeklügelsten Hightech-Produkte angesagt ist.

Damit man das auch alles auf die Reihe kriegt, bietet das Programm eine Menge Hilfestellungen an: Spruchrollen, deren weise Worte sich in Erfindungen ummünzen lassen, fünf Berater für Fragen der Wirtschaft, des Militärs etc., und als Krönung die "Civilopedia, eine unerschöpfliche Fundgrube für Infos über absolut alles und jedes.

Wirklich toll, nur von der Präsentation her fühlt man sich eher ans (Computer-) Mittelalter erinnert. Musik ertönt nur am Rande, FX sind noch seltener, und die fast animations-freie, aber flüssig scrollende Grafik gefällt bloß bei den Zwischenbildern richtig gut. Es gibt keinen Zwei-Spieler-Modus, die Steuerung klappt per Tastatur flotter als mit der Maus, und die deutschen Screentexte erhalten noch englische Überreste. Die technische Ausführung ist also nichts Berühmtes, dafür klotzt Civilization hinsichtlich Komplexität und Gameplay gewaltig ran. So gewaltig, daß man trotz aller Karten, Statistiken, Berater und Suchfunktionen auf alle Fälle ein paar Wochen, wenn nicht gar Monate mit dieser Mammut-Simulation beschäftigt ist! (mm)

Civilization logo

American strategy sim things - doncha just love 'em? We do, but there are one or two problems to iron out.

What is the world coming to? It seems we are no longer content simply to run and jump around small sections of it. Now we want it all. We want to dictate the growth of planets and manipulate lifeforms to perform for us by means of so-called God Simulations.
But as the list of them grows ever longer, my faith diminishes with every passing deity. I DO like the idea of these interactive 'fish tanks', but I'm not so impressed with the clumsy way they are often presented.

Most of these simulations seem to come from America, but I'm not going to pontificate on the inherent megalomaniacal tendencies of its population. What I will say is that a majority of American products is written for the IBM PC and compatibles, for which hard disk space is a must. The upshot of this is that the designers and coders need have less consideration for their medium than, say, memory-conscious slaves to the Amiga.

There's also the fact that American software is often imaginative but poorly implemented, as opposed to the by and large slick but vacuous European releases. My point is this: It's all very well having a product which does this, that and the other, but if it's not much fun to use then it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Take Civilization author Sid Meier's previous release, Railroad Tycoon. I liked it but it simply wasn't near as entertaining as it should have been. When I play with a glorified train set I want to see and hear bells and whistles in every possible sense. The problem is, for all Sid and his associates' enthusiasm, they lack a suitable sense of style and as a result their product resembles a more mundane WIMP environment instead (which is too sober an interface for entertainment software like this).

Civilization does nothing to dispel my beliefs. The idea here is to develop a vast civilisation from a tiny tribe (armed with a rudimentary knowledge of such fundamental developments as irrigation) taking into consideration such essentials as economics, politics, defence, exploration of the Earth (or a fictitious world) through history (from the discovery of the wheel and the alphabet to nuclear power, robotics and space flight) and (hopefully) beyond.

All this is achieved in a game system where you get to found and develop cities, set taxes, incite revolutions, choose government systems, keep your people happy and pollution to a minimum, discover and make advances, play it so cool you are honoured with a "We love the (King) Day", mine and manage resources, build roads and railways, explore space, exchange information and trade with or spy on other civilisations, form armies, create weapons, prevent and cope with disasters, steal and sabotage, bribe, build impressive Wonders Of The World, and even show diplomacy if the need arises.

A shoddy body... but a heart of gold

And there's more! Cash, of course, plays a major role in almost every aspect of life as you make it. Points are awarded for skilful play, and high scorers get to enter the Civilization Hall Of Fame if they retire, reach out and touch the Alpha Centauri star system or conquer the world (only the last two successes are considered 'winning').

I'm not going to dress it up any more than is necessary. The gist is this: Civilization is on a grander scale than Railroad Tycoon only it appears more amateurish.
It's hard to feel compassion for pixels at the best of times, and Civilization's bland, lifeless icons do little to create the essential emotional bonding between the player and the product. Having to blatantly manipulate variables through a clinical system of taking 'turns' leaves me cold.

I have other gripes, too, which aren't as trivial as they may sound. You do, after all, pay to play a professional product. The 'instruments' used for the title music are drab, I can live with that, but there's little aural feedback during play (the 'jingles' are simply inadequate). The typeface used throughout is plain ugly, and so is the cheap-looking window system. The interface is sluggish and fussy (you wouldn't believe how frustrating it can be to execute functions and enter text), with information flickering as it appears on screen in a sloppy manner akin to being, dealt, badly, a deck of cards while you blink (a bit like the mouse-driven pointer). There aren't any decent rewards for progress either, just the occasional full-screen picture with simple animation.

Now, I can see how you would believe that I have it in for Civilization (and Sid Meier, MicroProse, his fellow countrymen and, come to think of it, the rest of the world). But, do you know, the saddest thing of all is I don't. The man has some fine concepts (no really). And I actually got a big kick out of playing Civilization, but not a large enough one (honk) to overcome my resentment at having to channel so much effort into excusing the interface.

Look, Sid, I - and many others I'm sure - would love to spend the time developing a civilisation, but not in the same archaic way you obviously do. Don't be so selfish by bestowing your greatness only upon those prepared to persevere. People pay for you to entertain them, to make the escape from reality as painless and seamless as possible. We deserve better.

Maxis' Sim City doesn't look superior I grant you, but at least the very average rewards are easier to reap. A product such as this could be used to educate, too, but not when it's so unnecessarily uninviting as Civilization. Indeed, a civilisation simulation could be a nation-sweeping sensation, but not if its presentation's an imitation of Civilization's. (And let me take this opportunity to tell you in all fairness that SimEarth on the IBM PC and compatibles looks marginally better but isn't as playable as Civilization).

It's a great pity, for within this shoddy body beats a heart of gold and there are the bones of a healthy subject. But the road to success is not paved with good intentions. No doubt there are certain sections of the public who consider Civilization the greatest thing since the creation of life itself. But no matter how seriously you take your software (and my comments, come to think of it), you cannot deny that computer entertainment should not be a chore. As it stands, Civilization is almost excellent but I can only highly recommend it to all you mature, patient and forgiving saints out there.

Civilization logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Emperor Tony Dillon casts a ruling eye over Microprose's latest strategic offering, and finds there's more to being a Royal than meets they eye.

Since the earliest days of Populous, there has been a stream of God games, from Powermonger to Sim City, al of which give the player the chance to evolve a race of civilisation. In Populous, you did it by reforming the planet, in Mega-Lo-Mania, by increasing the warfaring capabilities of your people - but there has never been a game which has required realistic political and psychological skills.

The enemy have always been a blinkered opponent who is only satisfied when they have sentenced you to death. Long time Microprose designer, Sid Meier (the brains behind Gunship, Railroad Tycoon and Pirates to name but a few), has come up with what, in my opinion, is the ultimate God game, one that requires true strategy.


You begin the game as the despot ruler of a small city, populated by a group of people who, although slightly more advanced than the rampaging barbarians who roam the planet, still have a long way to go before they can lay any claims of being truly civilised. The aim is an ambiguous one: either evolve to the point of reaching the colonisation of space, or become the ruling civilisation on the planet by wiping out any other computer-controlled races. Between two and six of these opposing civilisations all have the same aims as you, and are evolving on the same planet - if not on the same continent. Also ranged against you is the temperamental state of your people and the barbarians that wander about aimlessly. If your own people are unhappy, they aren't going to follow your instructions, leaving you out in the cold.

The way Civilization works is a little hard to describe in such a short space. You, as ruler, begin with one city, within which things are created. People can be trained as soldiers or travelers, and can be made to leave the city to explore the world. Soldiers are there purely for combat, but travelers can build roads and develop new cities, expanding the realm you control. With this method, you can quickly gain control over large masses of land.


But there's no use in controlling large masses is you still have your head stuck in the dark ages, and this is where your people's evolution comes into things. And this occurs within the cities you build. How fast they can be built depends on the happiness of the people and the availability of the necessary resources, so choosing where to site new cities is critical. What you can build depends on how much your people know, and your wise leaders are researching new ideas all the time.

For instance, you are presented with a list of possible concepts to learn and from it you could choose, say, Alphabet or Code of Laws. As you learn skills, you can consequently advance your society. For example, by learning Philosophy and mixing your newfound knowledge with Literacy, you can become a Democracy - which is important for keeping people happy in the later stages of evolution. Similarly, learning Combustion and Physics lends you the tools needed to create a fighter plane. Choosing which skills to learn, and then working with them accordingly is the key to success. After all, why continue to send out unarmed soldiers when you have the capacity to build tanks?

With a game this complex, you would think the beginner would find it impossible to play - especially without a degree in politics - but fear not. Help is at hand in the form of aides in all walks of the game. A science advisor will recommend the best sills to learn, while a military advisor will give you tips on how to improve the physical standing of your empire. In addition, the program will occasionally throw boxes on the screen, offering hints such as the best locations to place cities, or to remind you to build roads to improve trade routes. These features stop the game being to immediately daunting, but they don't make it any easier to beat.

As with most games of this genre, Civilization is viewed from above, with the world broken down into squares. To begin with, the only areas you can see are the eight squares directly surrounding your city but, as the game progresses, you can send armies out to explore the continents, and this soon reveals more of the landscape as it is discovered. The map is completely wraparound, of course, but things like other islands and continents will remain out of your reach until you are suitably evolved to devise means to cross the rivers and stretches of sea that break up the land masses.

The game is played out in turns, and each turn you can issue an order to each of your units, whether it's telling a band of travellers to move one square north and to build a road as they go, or even ordering a city to build a temple as a means of placating the civilians living there - or ordering an army to storm a small town. The orders can be issued from one of the menu bars at the top of the screen, or by hotkeys, whichever you find most comfortable.

But you aren't the only civilization on the planet, and sometimes you have to wait for your opponents to make their move which isn't always against you. Sometimes, an envoy from an opposing town, the French King, for example, will offer a peace treaty in exchange for the secret of Masonry. Agree with this, and you are guaranteed complete peace, for a while. The more powerful an opponent is, the more likely they are to break the treaty, probably breaking your rule into the bargain.

When playing Civilization for the first time, it's all too easy to be overawed by the intricacy of the game system. There is so much to keep an eye out for - you can even bump into key historical figures! - that managing a city itself can be a mind-numbing and difficult task. The game is so huge, and yet so involving that once you are playing, there is little chance of seeing family or friends for quite a while. Although for a lot of the time, all you are doing is moving units about and waiting for things to be built and skills to be learnt, the game never seems to get repetitive.

Add to that the ability to tailor the physical structure of the planet to make it easier or harder on your self, five skill levels, and up to six opponents, and you are looking at a game which plays differently every time. Sid Meier has never, to my mind, come up with a losing design. MicroProse are taking a hell of a risk putting something this deep on the shelves in these console-led days, but it's a risk worth taking. In these days of plentiful 'consolely' products it's refreshing to play something like this, and the simplicity of such console product can only emphasise that Civilization is the work of a genius.

LORD MEIER OF LONDON Sid Meier and MPS Labs have been working with Microprose in the US since the company began, and have come up with some of the company's most popular games. Starting with humble war simulations, such as Silent Service I and II, F-15 Strike Eagle, Gunship and Stealth Fighter, he soon went on to prove he was capable of much more with the massively popular Railroad Tycoon, the espionage epic, Covert Action, and the Tom Clancy conversion of Red Storm Rising. The rumour is that he's currently working on a sequel to Pirates. We wait with baited breath.
THE RULING CLASSES As a civilisation changes, so must its government. Marx said that revolution would destroy the ruling classes and replace it with a Utopian society, one where everyone is equal. Civilization takes a different stand, whereby a revolution causes a change of government style, rather than a complete removal. As you become more advanced, you can instigate revolutions to transform from your oppressive Despotism, through Monarchy and Communism to a Democracy, where you can do mostly what you like, and people will be happy because they will feel that you are in power because they want you there. The sociological side of this game is just one of its many brain-busting facades.

Civilization logo

CIVILIZATION: out now from MicroProse on Amiga: £34.99 and PC: £39.99

CIVILIZATION - it's enormous, it's a brand new Amiga release from MicroProse and it's spelt wrong (unless you're an American). DAVID WILSON is also enormous (in the girth department), so he was the ideal person to review it.

AmigaAfter the mighty success of Railroad Tycoon, MicroProse has turned its hand to the mammoth subject of the the birth and creation of Civilisation in this latest epic, er... Civilization.

Starting with a simple tribe on an unknown continent, you have to explore, settle, irrigate and fight your way to dominance and (hopefully) technological advance.

Scanning a rather ambitious time scale, Civilization lets you control basic infantry through chariots and siege machines to battleships, bombers and ultimately spaceships. As well as the satisfying battle bits, you'll also build roads, irrigate the land, build cities and fortresses and indulge in managing your cities and their produce.

Civilization? Civilization? Why do Americans insist on putting ' Zeee's all over the shop? Do Z's still score 10 in the US versions of Scrabble? If so it'd be piss easy to run up a mighty score.

Civilization is played like a board game - a sort of sophisticated Risk if you like, with 'pieces' representing units of infantry, cavalry, settlers and the like moving about a map. You can choose your playing continent - either randomly generated or the real world - and you set out to people it with a huge, civilised population.

Not as specialised as Railroad Tycoon, Civilization still boasts much of the addictiveness and playability that soaks these kind of games.

SETTLER: This is the 'piece' you'll start with. ' Settle' it down somewhere sensible - near water or fertile land perhaps - and you'll get your first city. You can then tell it what to produce - a military unit perhaps? SPY: Berlimey - we're in for a rum old time now. My spy tells me that the rival tribe has discovered gunpowder; maybe it's time for me to do some trading. I'll get a city to build a...
INFANTRY UNIT: Now, that's more like it - so now we can move around and explore the continent. Hmmm... but they're a bit crap really. Not too tough and pretty darn slow in the movement stakes. CARAVAN: Smart! Not too hot in the fighting department, but if I can open trade routes, establish alliances with the top tribe, trade the secret of gunpowder and make some musketeers, I can go and blow 'em up!
CHARIOT: Hurrah! Our boffins have discovered the wheel, so now we can build ourselves some chariots. They take more turns to build, but they're pretty rough and nippy too. MUSKETEER: These guys pack a punch. With several of these tough cookies we've taken over a city and plundered the secret of the internal combustion engine! Now we're cooking with gas - armoured cars ahoy!
Imagine you're down the pub, and this bloke comes up to you to describe this brilliant new computer game. It's called Sim City, right, but you've never heard of it before. So what's it about? "Well, you have this huge map of land. It's pretty featureless really - the odd forest, and lake and you've got to build a city on it. You've got power stations, domestic property, commercial property and road-building icons". Your reaction? "NFI* Catch yuz later, eh?"
Of course, when you actually play the game it's brilliant! An all time classic, Railroad Tycoon was an example of this type of game and Civilization is too.

Civilization AGA logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

The world's best god game just got even better. Sid Meier's epic history of the human race is now available on the A1200 and looks set to wow you all over again. Civilization enables you control the destiny of one of eight tribes who are lacked in a bitter struggle for power. In the beginning you have only got brute force and the sheer will to survive on your side, but as you explore more and more of the world you discover a whole range of scientific discoveries which enable you to leapfrog your opponents and gain the upper hand. The thing to remember, of course, is that your Amiga-controlled rivals are all trying to do the same to you.

The great thing about Civilization first time around was its sheer addictability and easy of use - even if you had never played a god-game before you soon got the hang of it and were hooked for months. Not surprisingly, the A1200 version looks and plays even better with a beefed up graphics palette and stereo sound samples. The overall look of the game has been changed in a subtle way - waves lap the shore on the map screens while the animations have become smoother and more detailed. The sound effects also help to boost the game's realism with strident martial music when you come under attack, or hammering sounds when you are building one of the world's Great Wonders. It all adds up to an electrifying and absorbing gameplay experience.

Forget Populous 2, Mega-lo-Mania and all those other pretenders to the crown, the A1200 version of Civilization sets the standard for all god-games. Superb.

Civilization AGA logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Obwohl Sid Meiers Strategie-Epos auch vom schieren Alter her ein Klassiker ist, hat es bis heute kaum etwas von seinen Qualitäten eingebüßt - auch wenn man es bei der neuen 1200er-Version wohl darauf anlegte...

Selten haben die technischen Experten der Redaktion so geschwitzt, um ein Spiel auf Festplatte zu installieren, denn direct von Disk läuft hier überhaupt nichts. Als das Meisterwerk endlich vollbracht war, kam die große Enttäuschung: Okay, es gibt neue Grafiken mit 256 Farben und ein paar netten Effekten (Colorcycling und Ausblendungen), alle Programmroutinen wurden extra für den A1200 optimiert, und die einst nervice Diskwechselei ist zwangsläufig weggefallen.

Aber die noch viel schöneren Bilder oder die stark verbesserte Maussteuerung der neuesten "Windows"-Version auf dem PC hat man den AGA-Amigos eben nicht gegönnt; zudem sind die deutschen Screentexte nach wie vor mit einigen "vergessenen" englischen Stellen gewürzt, was ja nun eine ziemlich unzivilisierte Schlamperei darstellt.

Trotz der ärgerlichen Begleitstände ist Civilization natürlich immer noch ein Ausnahme-Strategical, das den Spieler schier endlos motiviert, weil praktisch jede Partie anders verläuft. Deshalb kann man letztendlich auch mit der zwar verbesserten, aber deswegen keineswegs berauschenden Präsentation leben, und die alte Steuerung war ja an sich auch nicht so verkehrt. Also stört Euch nicht zu sehr an unserem Gemecker - stürzt Euch lieber frohgemut ins Jahr 4000 vor Christus und beweist den maximal sechs Computergegnern, daß Ihr mit Hilfe diverser Statistiken, Karten und Berater Euer Volk viel schneller ins Raumfahrtzeitalter bringt als sie! (mm)

Civilization AGA logo AGA

What am I going to say here, eh? Hands up anybody who does not already know what Civilization is all about (apart from you, mum). You see, you have already read about 12 reviews of Civilization, haven't you? And you know that it is really good. You already know that you are able to customise a world to play on or play on the Earth. That you can choose which of the many tribes you wish to be, from American to English to Babylonian and more.

That the game is based around building cities and using them as kind of factories to produce military units with which you explore and conquer the world. Or if conquering is not your idea of fun, you can instead trade and build a peaceful empire and win the space race. That the other races in the game all build their own civilizations in competition with you and that they operate in distinct ways, depending on the differing characters of their leaders.

It will keep you in front of your A1200 for days.

You are bound to have already been told that you have to split your income between financing research and maintaining your cities. That it is incredibly engrossing and will keep you locked in front of your Amiga for days and days on end until all your hair falls out. That it is a brilliant game.

So now they have made a version specifically for the AGA chipset and I have got to tell you what has changed. Well, to be honest, although the graphics have been improved, with waves lapping against the shores of the land and smoother animations of rioting citizens in your cities and more colours in the portraits of the other monarchs, and even though they have added some neat sound effects like the pounding of hammers on anvils when you are constructing a Wonder of the World the game is no different than it has always been.

What I am trying to say is that I sat down with an Amiga and the disks, loaded it up and started playing and had so much damn fun that it was four hours (and spookily 200 years) later that I stopped for a moment and thought 'oh yeah, I am supposed to be looking for all the enhancements'.

Civilization was so good already that, even though it has undeniably nicer pictures in this version, it does not make it any better game. It is still great. Nuff said.

Civilization AGA logo AGA CU Amiga Screen Star


It's been called 'The God Game to End All God Games' (by me at least) and 'The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread' (by my uncle Bill, but what does he know?). But whatever name it goes under there is no doubt that Civilization is one helluva game.

It has been around for a good number of years now (two to be precise) so you should know what it is about. For those that do not, the box's blurb sums it up quite well - 'Build an empire to stand the test of time'. In other words, start off with a small tribe so many thousands of years before Christ and help them develop into the Master Race (sounds like the blueprint Adolf was working to). In the meantime you will have to fight off or make alliances with all the other computer-controlled people who are out to do the same thing. It is a simple concept that has been superbly executed.

For some reason I never really got down to a heavy gaming session with it till I reviewed this version. But, when I did, I soon found the hours ticking pleasurably by. This AGA version bolts on extra colours and graphic effects in the form of, amongst others, waves lapping on the shore.

Overall, the look and feel of the game is dramatically improved, though it is debatable whether, in this instance, it adds anything to your enjoyment. Having been ported directly from the PC it has carried over a number of glitches like the exceedingly frustrating mouse control which seems to need a very heavy and prolonged click to bring up any of the menus.

At £39 it is a bit overpriced but if you already own a copy, Software Demon will upgrade it for £19. A great game, but a bit too much to pay for the improvement.