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Civilization II

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Released: 1996

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: PC - Windows

Publisher: MicroProse

Developer: MicroProse

Submitted by: Matthew Aston

Way back in 1996 I was craving for another Civilisation game, I had played the first civilisation on the Amiga 500 and I was hooked, CIV II on the PC looked a thing of beauty.  So it was that in the summer of 1996 I had finally saved up enough money for a shiny new 486 PC and Civilisation was one of the first games I bought for it.

Kill, conquer, destroy and pillage; now that’s my type of war game!  Of course Civilization II wasn’t all about war.  You needed to first develop your civilisation.  You started the game with a tribe; you build your first city, expand it and use its growing population to build more cities.  Cities needed specialist public buildings vital to their expansion and of course troops to defend them against attack.  Creating cities expanded your civilisation and your empire.

Like all games in the CIV series, technology played a huge part in the game.  At first your fledgling society could only build basic warriors, but as the turns/years progressed your empire had access to new fighting units from swordsmen to musket infantry to riflemen, tanks, planes and nuclear weapons.  All of these things had to be researched of course, along with other technological advances.

One of the new and often comical elements of CIV II over its predecessor was the ability to consult your governments ‘High Council’.  Assuming you still had the CD still in the drive you would be provided advice as to your nation’s progress in the game via video clips.  There was a Military adviser, who in the ancient and medieval era’s is often angry, drunk or both, wanting nothing more than to create a huge army and conquer everyone.  (In the modern era he takes the form of a stereotypical U.S. general), a nerdy scientist, who becomes geekier as time progresses, a female diplomatic adviser, an economic adviser, and a happiness adviser (an Elvis Presley caricature, who wears sunglasses, even in the ancient period!).

While the original Civilization had a top down viewpoint, CIV II utilized an isometric graphic engine, giving it a more 3D type look.  Many of the combat problems that plagued the original game were fixed by adding new concepts such as firepower and hit points , thus preventing the crazy probability that an ancient Greek Phalanx could somehow defeat an modern armoured division!

CIV II was also extremely easy to modify, much more so than CIV III or CIV IV.  The game rules were stored in a text file that could be accessed from the games install directory.  Almost all the rules could be changed or modified, creating a huge level of customisation.  MicroProse even added a world builder and a scenario editor so you could make your own custom games.

Civilization II was my first ever PC strategy game.  It was massive and it consumed huge amounts of my time as a college student back in the middle of the 90’s, but by god it was time well spent!