Genre: Strategy / tactics
Perspective: Bird's-eye view
Visual: Free-roaming camera, Isometric
Gameplay: 4X, Managerial / business simulation, Turn-based strategy
Interface: Multiple units / characters control, Point and select
Published by: MicroProse Software
Developed by: MPS Labs
Platforms: Windows 3.1, PlayStation (PSX, PS1)
"Civilization II" is one of those cases when the sequel turns out to be an improved version of an already excellent original in almost all respects, without any radical changes. It was not for nothing that a modest subtitle "The ultimate version of the best-selling strategy game" flaunted on the box with the game, emphasizing exaggerating the degree of its continuity in relation to its titled predecessor. Of course, in fact, the differences between the two games, albeit small, are enough - if only because a completely different team was working on the sequel. Despite the usual appendage to the name in the form of the name of one of the most famous game makers in history, Sid Meier himself practically did not participate in the creation of the second "Civilization" - except for the one-day "brainstorming" that preceded the start of the work.
Fortunately, the Civilization II case was in the hands of experienced craftsmen, exactly on the eve of this case, in 1994, who released Sid Meier's Colonization: Brian Reynolds (who was the head and soul of the entire team) was responsible for the design of the sequel to the world's first epic strategy. ), Douglas Kaufman and Jeffrey Briggs (a man of many talents - who started out as a composer, in this game he acted, in addition to a co-designer, also as a producer, and later headed Firaxis, which continued to release strategies under the famous brand). At the same time, the authors widely used in their work all those ideas and suggestions that fans of the first game sent to Microprose almost in sacks - of course, trying, first of all, not to spoil anything - but only to deepen, expand and refine. Thanks to this cautious approach, the novelty has kept almost all the virtues of Sid Meier's Civilization intact, including the gameplay, significantly expanding the range of available wonders, technologies and units and reaching a higher level of balance between them. And besides, it acquired all those details and elements of historical reliability, the lack of which was once lamentable by the co-author of the first game Bruce Shelley, regretting that Sid Meier himself, being true to his credo "no teaching, only entertainment", did not consider need to equip the game with this kind of detail.
We will not repeat to everyone the known things about the gameplay, information about which can be found in the description of the original game on our website, but we will briefly examine only those innovations that Sid Meier's Civilization II can boast of. The most obvious of these are improvements in terms of graphics: instead of a simple and flat "top view", the main window with the global map now appears in an isometric perspective. You get used to it pretty quickly, despite the fact that the textbook square cells have taken the form of "rhombuses" - well, "pseudo-three-dimensional" landscape elements, images of units and especially cities are definitely pleasing to the eye. The nationality of combat and not very units is now determined by the color not of the background of their icon, but of the shield, which even representatives of the most peaceful professions hold in their hands; settlements have changed even more - instead of simple cells with a digital indicator of the number of their inhabitants, we can admire the "volumetric" icons, the style of architecture of which can be selected at the start of a new game from four options. As the population grows and the eras change, they also visually change - and the colors of the small icon with the numerical designation of this very population and the flag waving here make it easy to distinguish your metropolis from the neighboring one.
The most noticeable change in the gameplay is the equipping of combat units with two new indicators - "firepower" and "health points", in addition to the remaining "attack", "defense" and "movement points". The innovation obviously pursued the goal of making the game more realistic: the phalanx, which in "Sid Meier's Civilization", with proper luck, could easily hit an enemy tank with a rusty millennial spear, delighted the heart of a player who was slightly lagging behind in technical progress, but not the minds of fans of military history. As a result, the battles became somewhat more predictable: the ratio of attack and defense remained approximately the same, so that the chances of victory among representatives of different eras in the development of weapons have hardly changed, but the damage that a tank and a phalanx can inflict on each other is now much different. greater diversification. Accordingly, all units received a visual indicator-health bar, whose color changes from green, first to warning yellow, and then to threatening red; there was a need for the treatment of the wounded - a warrior who missed his turn will restore some of his health, especially if he settles down on this turn in a friendly city - whose structures, such as barracks, airports or newly built shipyards, were able to thoroughly "patch" land, air or sea combat units. Fortunately, an old-fashioned blitzkrieg supporter can always enable the option of unambiguous and final "simplified" combat in a new game's settings.
Urban buildings and other improvements have undergone a slightly less noticeable evolution. Thus, to the corruption that eats up a certain share of the treasury's trade income under many types of government, the category of "waste" has been added, which does the same with production indicators - especially in the districts farthest from the capital; a penalty also appeared for changing one type of unfinished product to another (for example, a building for a combat unit). The characteristics of many structures, such as Cathedrals or Colosseums, have been adjusted for balance reasons; Among the new municipal projects, it is worth mentioning highways and supermarkets, which increase the indicators of city trade or obtained food by 50% in the late stages of the game, respectively. However, in order to achieve the latter, it is also necessary to modify the required landscape cell: the good old settlers have acquired their improved version - engineers. Opened with the invention of explosives, they have a wider range of services, from farms in irrigated areas to true terraforming — the ability to transform glaciers into tundra or jungle into plains. A nice innovation is equipping a cell of almost each of the eleven available terrain types with two potential improvements that it can receive randomly when generating a new game map. For example, on some plains bison can graze, adding "product shields" to this square cultivated by the townspeople, and pheasants singing in some forests serve as an additional source of easily digestible and high-calorie food. It is noteworthy that the river has disappeared from the list of landscape options - now the nation's waterways do not occupy separate cells, but serve as the same optional decoration for any type of terrain, adding to it both the production rate and bonuses to defense and movement.
Of course, in order to be able to use all the trade, food and production advantages of the diamond cells spread out on the isometric global map, they need to be processed - creating a city next to it. Each of our settlements, regardless of their size, has acquired its own territory - a radius of two squares on each side, except for the straight diagonal. In total, there are 21 cells in the form of a bold "X", potentially available for processing by two dozen citizens of our empire; "Extra" workers can be assigned to the service sector by appointing artists, tax inspectors or scientists - however, this can be done with a smaller number of residents (or it will be necessary - in case of growing discontent due to wars, overpopulation, etc.) ). You can also regulate the level of simple everyday happiness among your subjects using the tax slider (which allows you to divert part of the income to the development of science or to the production of luxury goods), and by changing the government. The authors of "Sid Meier's Civilization II" tried in every possible way to achieve between despotism, monarchy, republic, communism, democracy and - attention, new! - fundamentalism of a certain balance, making each type of state structure attractive in its own way (except for the very first one, which it is recommended to get rid of as soon as possible) and justifying the inevitable horrors of the anarchy of the transition period.
True, connoisseurs of the old tried and tested method of building communism in one single country by building the pyramids early will be disappointed: based on considerations of both the same balance and historical accuracy, the bonuses of many wonders of the world have been significantly modified. The pyramids, by the way, received in return quite a useful and permanent side effect, providing a granary in every city of the civilization that built them, but the opportunity to choose any type of government, regardless of their scientific achievements, has been moved closer to modern times - to the Statue of Liberty. But where Reynolds and his friends were able to turn around, without embarrassing themselves with Sid Meier's dislike of historical details, is in the development of new wonders of the world - now we have twenty-eight of them against twenty-one in the first game, and they are arranged in four eras in a more reliable way : "The Middle Ages" was renamed to "Renaissance", and in addition to "Modernity" was also added "New Time", with such equally pleasant and useful new items as the Eiffel Tower, Darwin's Journey or the Adam Smith Trading Company. They also added to the number of scientific achievements, of which there are now as many as nine dozen, and the relationship between them is so complex that the "technology tree" is not very easy to understand from the visual poster included in the game kit.
It should be especially noted that the construction of each wonder of the world is accompanied by a separate video, read from a CD - and made in a very historically accurate and realistic style of documentary filmmaking (1996 in the yard: FMV technologies are just becoming fashionable). In the form of a video with "live actors" implemented in "Sid Meier's Civilization II" and a council of our advisers dressed in the latest fashion of the season - you can call it at any time using the Ctrl + T keys. But the ambassadors of other states appear before us in the form of, albeit animated, but completely computer models (also readable from CD). In general, Brian Reynolds and his colleagues have devoted a considerable share of their time to improving diplomacy and improving artificial intelligence: for example, the difficulty levels chosen at the beginning of the game are now more different from each other and correspond to the belligerence and skill as the leaders of other civilizations (which in each game can there are up to seven pieces), and invariably evil barbarians plowing the oceans and continents. Computer rivals have learned to competently conduct research and improve their troops, but now they build the wonders of the world honestly, along with us - to admit, there is nothing less pleasant than a couple of years before the completion of construction in their beloved capital Leonardo's Workshop - which has a unique ability free and automatic upgrade of all combat units to their modern versions, albeit for only one specific historical period, - to find out that such a construction was just successfully completed by the enemy (and, of course, each wonder of the world can exist only in one copy) ... Achievements in diplomacy and fulfillment of undertaken obligations are now displayed in the level of reputation, on which the attitude of the leaders of the surrounding states to us depends, which is prescribed during a conversation with them in plain text; in addition to the banal declaration of war or peace, it is now possible to conclude a truce, a treaty of neutrality or even an alliance with rivals: in the latter case, in particular, the units of both states will be able to freely enter the territory-radius of the ally's cities, closed for visiting by all other persons (except only diplomats and trade caravans, their modernized versions - as well as, of course, active troops during armed conflicts). But there is also an official "cheating mode" here! True, it is intended rather for "modders", for the convenience of which the game is equipped with a separate map editor: the results did not hesitate to show up in the imminent appearance of dozens and hundreds of "folk scenarios", some of which were even honored to be published as part of the official "add-ons". However, this is a completely different story.
For the sake of fairness, it should be noted in conclusion, and some "cutoffs", alas, occurred with the game in comparison with the original in 1991 - although, probably, not everyone will notice them at all. The fact is that "Sid Meier's Civilization II" - as well as all its followers without exception - stopped showing us our subjects live (except for the "faces of workers" on the screen of the city, each of which symbolizes only one or another number of population, which can be assigned to a particular job). The seizure of the city by foreign troops, the uprising of dissatisfied citizens, or vice versa, the organization of a nationwide holiday of love for our dear comrade monarch-president - all these events are now accompanied by only static pictures with lines of stingy and stereotypical information - about animated residents against the background of a panorama of their hometown is possible only to remember with regret. We also lost the image of our palace, periodically rebuilt by the population grateful for our concern for its prosperity - however, this moment just got its development in the "Throne Room" that performs exactly the same functions: albeit not so pompous, but still pleasant. And why such a simple and useful element of gameplay was completely removed from all subsequent "Civilizations", starting from the fourth ?!
The conclusion is not difficult to predict: despite the lack of radical innovations, and in many respects thanks to this, "Sid Meier's Civilization II" remains one of the best releases, if not the only, then certainly the very first and most famous globally epic turn-based strategy in the history of computer gaming. Actually, the question for a lover of old games is not whether it is worth playing a sequel, having both the first and third-fourth-fifth-sixth series in your collection, but rather, is there any point in using the original 1996 version in the presence of a more functional and at the same time 32-bit "Civilization II (Multiplayer Gold Edition)"? Oddly enough, but the answer to this question will be rather positive. Despite the fact that the 1997 edition can run without problems on modern 64-bit operating systems, its musical accompaniment, performed in all versions of "Civilization II" in CD-Audio format, firstly, will not always be performed correctly, starting already with Windows Vista, and secondly, it turns out to be somewhat truncated in the MGE edition. Yes, and running a 16-bit game in a modern emulator sometimes turns out to be even easier than setting up a 32-bit one for direct launch, while enjoying both a completely authentic appearance and adequate reproduction of all nine compositions by Jeff Briggs and his colleagues.