Sid Meier’s Civilization III: Complete

Sid Meier’s Civilization III: Complete

Civilization III seems to have been the first game in the series to get a divided reception, the common denominator of which is friction between its strategy and simulation components. The most controversial feature appears to be the strategic resource mechanic, which is argued to give geography a lopsided tactical significance. It’s a reasonable thing to complain about, but it also happens to be historically and sociologically accurate. Similarly, the use of rigidly-defined eras prevents nonsensical arrangements like developing cars before developing the wheel. Personally, I’m a fan of anything that shakes players out of complacency, especially in this genre where fans tend to gravitate to a couple of optimal strategies. The other additions brought by Civ III are more putatively worthwhile, including air missions, bombardment, and especially culture, which allows a faction to expand its borders and overtake cities via overwhelming media presence.

More than just adding new features, Civ III also removes some annoying old ones like universal zones of control and generally cleans up the gameplay of its predecessors with better mouse support and more direct access to the in-game encyclopedia. The pacing and micromanagement are still weak links, as they drag matches out long after their outcomes have been decided, but that’s arguably inherent to the formula. The aesthetics, on the other hand, would be problematic in any genre. The music is terrific, and the visuals are more appealing than before, but they still utterly fail to cleanly display the gameplay information they’re expected to. Meanwhile, the sound effects range from acceptable, to annoying, to just plain odd. Nevertheless, this is my favourite of the first three Civ titles. The Complete version is appropriately titled, too, as it combines the content of the two expansion packs with multiplayer that actually works.

8/10
8/10

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