Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sixteen Years of Civilization (Part 2 of 4)

And now, it's time for the second part. (I'd have gotten to it sooner, but I was busy with midterms and such.)

Many of the differences between Civ and Civ II don't affect the gameplay much, for example, better graphics, new civilizations, new units, new technologies, etc. These will not be my focus.

There are some interesting changes to purely aesthetic points. With diplomacy, you don't speak to the leader of an foreign nation as you do in the first game, but rather their ambassador, who stands in front of a portrait of the leader. In the original, when your people decided you were doing a good job, they would improve your palace. In Civ II, they improve your throne room.

In each successive game, the computer players cheat less. In this game, when a computer nation begins building a wonder, it is announced, to verify that they are not just being given them a turn before you finish them.

An interesting change, not major, but significant enough to be mentioned separately, is that rivers provide extra movement, like roads. This makes it easier to explore along rivers, making it more historically accurate.

One major change is diplomacy. In the original Civ, you can either be at war with an another nation, or at peace. Along with that, your actions did not affect how other nations dealt with you. In Civ II, you can have an alliance, be at peace, be neutral, have a cease-fire, or be at war. This adds some depth, but more importantly, a new diplomacy concept is that of reputation. If you break a peace-treaty, or sneak attack someone, the computer remembers and will be less likely to trust you.

The biggest and most significant change is the change to the combat system. In Civ II, units still have an attack value and a defense value, but now they also have hit points and firepower. Hit points are very simple. When they are gone, the unit dies, and if a unit does nothing in a turn, they will gradually regenerate.This way if a unit is attacked multiple times in a turn, each successive attack is more likely to succeed, making combat more realistic. Firepower is how many hit points of damage a unit does when it makes a successful hit. Two units will continue trading hits until one is killed. This makes combat much more realistic, though still does not alleviate the "phalanx kills tank" effect.

Possibly the coolest change (though it doesn't affect a normal game) is the enormous ability for customization. There is a special editor to make your own units, terrain, civilizations, technologies, and everything you need to make your own game. Although some of these concepts are in the later games, the degree and ease of doing them is unmatched by any other Civ games.

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