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Caprice Bourret


Civilization 3

Once you locate a resource you'd like to claim for your civilization, the next step is to actually go out and get it. There are two ways to accomplish this: via colonies or via Culture. Culture is a primary element of the gameplay in Civilization III, as it determines your empire's borders, helps eliminate barbarians, and even influences other nations. In simplest terms, Culture is a passive way to control the map using nothing more than your civilization's major and minor achievements. You expand your Culture by building city improvements like temples, libraries, and even Wonders. Each structure which serves to improve your people's intellectual or spiritual nature expands your Cultural influence over the surrounding area and thus your borders. As cities build these types of improvements, their Culture totals will build up and eventually cause a border expansion around the city; this also serves to negate the fog of war on the game map. If a resource is located within your borders, all you need to do in order to claim it is build a road to the resource. Should a resource reside outside of your empire, you must have a Worker build a road out to it, and then construct a colony on the resource itself. If your borders ever expand over the colony, the colony will vanish automatically.

Certainly, there's not much point in acquiring strategic resources unless you have something to use them for, and this is where the Tech Tree comes into play. Instead of creating a standard tree of advances, Firaxis has broken Civilization III down into four distinct eras: Ancient, Middle Ages, Industrial and Modern. Each period defines what advances you'll be able to research, what units you'll be able to build, the Wonders available and even how your civilization looks. In order to move from period to period, you must research most -- but not all -- of the advances for that era. Should you find yourself behind in research compared to other civilizations, your science advisor will bemoan that you rule a backward people; this is a strong indication that it's time to take action.

Unlike in Civilization II, it's not possible to obtain technology by invading and capturing opposing cities. Given this, if you can't research something yourself, but you need to keep up, your best option is diplomacy. Diplomacy with other civilizations has been given a good deal of attention by Firaxis, and as a result, you'll find yourself trying to work out deals fairly often. Reputation becomes of great importance in Civilization III, as breaking deals or declaring war without cause can have long lasting repercussions to the game. It's in this way that players must be more careful when making major international decisions, instead of throwing caution to the wind as was often possible in Civilization II.

Through the fine art of diplomacy, you can trade maps, excess luxuries or strategic resources (assuming you have a viable trade route), obtain communications with civilizations you haven't met, make both military and trade alliances, and much more. In Civilization III, all deals last for 20 turns, with the exception of peace treaties which last until war is declared. It is also through the use of diplomatic embassies that Firaxis has implemented Espionage. Rather than using a spy or diplomat unit as in the past, players can now accomplish underhanded tasks by establishing an embassy in another civilization's capital. Once done, for a modest fee of gold, you can attempt to steal technology or find out about a particular rival city. If you're caught, there could be dire consequences -- including war -- but sometimes it's worth the risk. Once your civilization discovers Espionage you can plant a spy once you've built the Minor Wonder, Intelligence Agency; you're given even more options including: sabotaging production in a city, starting a propaganda war to try and sway a rival city to your cause, stealing the plans for where the opposing civilization's military units are located and more. All of these actions come with a very high price, however, and so don't typically play a very large role during a game. Also, Firaxis has removed the option for spies to plant nuclear bombs or bio-warfare agents in this game, both of which were possible in Civilization II.

As in the past, Wonders play a large part in Civilization III, though sometimes mainly a cultural one depending on your needs. Firaxis has split these special structures into two types, Greater and Minor Wonders, with the difference being that Minor Wonders may be built by every civilization whereas Greater Wonders can be built only once and only by a single nation. The effects of Wonders are, as always, quite significant due to their individual effects on your civilization, plus Wonders tend to generate a lot of Culture points. Many of the Greater Wonders from Civilization II make a reappearance here, with only the Minor Wonders -- such as The Intelligence Agency and Battlefield Medicine -- appearing for the first time.

The last addition of note in Civilization III is the inclusion of an editor, which allows players to construct their own maps and much more. Within the editor you can alter nearly every facet of the game, changing the way existing civilizations, advances, units, etc. work or creating totally new ones if you so desire. Of special note is the scale of the maps players may design: Within Civilization III, the largest map (Huge) is 180x180 tiles; in the editor, however, you may make maps up to 256x256 tiles -- a significant increase. Through this powerful tool, it seems likely that Civilization III can be expanded upon indefinitely.

If you're a fan of the series or of the genre, then I can readily recommend picking up Civilization III -- just keep in mind that it may not be all you expected, especially later in the game. For those looking to take their first steps into turn-based strategy, Civilization III is an excellent place to start. It will allow new players to start off easy, and grow into the challenges that will be thrown at them. Despite the problems I found within Civilization III and the fact that the Modern Era feels unfinished, the possibilities for expansion seem nearly unlimited. Once Firaxis implements multiplayer, there won't be any reason to avoid this game, which again proves itself to be both fun and addictive to play.


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