Friday, September 28, 2007

Sixteen Years of Civilization (Part 3 of 4)

Although Civ III has improvements over Civ and Civ II, it is personally my least favorite. Which is not to say it's bad, merely less good.

One of the biggest reasons I don't like Civ III is that the combat system is resimplified. It's not so bad as the original, but it's not as good as Civ II. Although, with Civ III, it is explicitly clear how a veteran unit is better than a non-veteran. Veterans were in the previous games, and they were more likely to win a battle, but it was unclear by what mechanism. In Civ III, a more experience unit has more hitpoints.

Another concept executed imperfectly in Civ III is corruption: the farther a city is from its capital, the less productive it is. Although this was originally implemented in Civ II, it wasn't much of a consideration. Presumably in an effort to make the strategy of making as many cities as quickly as possible less feasible, corruption is much much worse. Unfortunately, that didn't work. Unproductive cities still add to your land area and population, and don't take anything away.

Though, Civ III does have many improvements over the first two games. Least among these is the new worker unit. In the first two games, settler units would make new cities, and build roads, etc. Now, settlers only make new cities, and only workers can make roads, etc.

Another small change is the removal of the caravan. In the first two games, in order to trade with foreign nations, you would need to build caravans. In Civ III, cities make trade routes automatically, and trading special resources is done through the diplomacy screen.

Speaking of resources, luxury and strategic resources have been added. In the first two games, a resource could give a city extra production, commerce or food. In Civ III there are still resources like that (called bonus resources), but now resources can also give you extra happiness (luxuries like gems, spices, or silk) and certain units require certain resources to build (for example, to build swordsmen, you must have iron. To build tanks, you must have oil.) This adds extra layers of strategy. If you lack an important strategic resource (horses, iron and coal are the most important resources) you can be in serious trouble.

Another change is that which civilization you play is no longer a merely cosmetic choice affecting your color and city names. Now, each civilization has a unique unit and particular characteristics that make them better at some things. For example the Chinese are industrious and militaristic, which means workers build improvements faster, and units are more likely to gain experience from battles. The unique unit is interesting but has little influence in how you play.

And the most important and best change in Civ III is culture. In Civ III, every city has a culture value, which determines how far out its borders go. Also, if a foreign city with low culture is next to a city with high culture, the low cultured city can rebel to join sides with its more cultural neighbor. In the original Civ, there were no national borders and in Civ II, borders were static at a few tiles away from your cities. Now, with Civ III, you can expand your borders without be expansionist or warlike.

In the first two Civs there were only two ways to win, kill everyone else, or be the first to build a spaceship to Alpha Centauri. Those are still options, but now you can win by having a very large culture or by winning an election in the UN.


Cucku said...

If you're in Mr. C's class, you're so in right now. He's got the Civ IV tech tree up on the wall in his office.

But I've wondered for the longest time: my introduction to the genre was Colonization, was that related to the civilization series? Or was it more like a spinoff of sorts?

Maybe you mentioned it somewhere way back at part one...

Haakaa Päälle! said...

Colonization was more like a spin off. It was made by the same guys and its interface was intentionally designed to be very similar to the first Civ game to attract Civ players, but that's pretty much where the similarity ends.