Civilization III, by MacSoft
Posted: 15-Oct-2002

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacSoft Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: John Gebhardt Class: GAMES

Civilization III was my first exposure to world strategy games. Developed by Sid Meier, Infogrames and Firaxis for Wintel PC's, Civ III was ported to the Mac by Westlake Interactive and published by MacSoft. Overall I would say the porting job was very well done. As its name implies, Civ III is the 3rd in the series of global strategy games from Sid Meier.

The installation process went normally if somewhat slowly. The full install requires 658 MB of disk space and the lite version 448 MB. The lite version does not load some of the movies and other less important bits on the CD. I put the full version on the iMac and the lite version on the PowerBook.

The game itself includes a "Civilopedia" that covers most all elements of the game in a reference fashion. I found a website (
www.civfanatics.com) that contained a great deal of useful information to help me get started. There is a Tutorial mode of the game that helps guide through the basics and will familiarize you with most of commands. The Wintel origin of the game is apparent in the control interface which is rather un-Maclike. It works well enough once you adjust to it. The game does require that you have the CD in the drive in order to play regardless of the level of install.

Also, after installing I downloaded some upgrades, going first from 1.16g to 1.17g, and then to 1.21g.

Game Play
In Civilization III, players take on the role as leader of one of 16 great civilizations existing in the past and present. Leaders include such figures as King Alexander of Greece, Saint Joan d'Arc of France, Mahatma Gandhi of India,
Queen Elizabeth of England, Bismark of Germany, Abraham Lincoln of the U.S., Julius Caesar of Rome, just to name a few. Every leader has their own advantages and personalities, and players should try playing different roles. Each of the civilizations has certain advantages in the areas of militarism, expansionism, commercialism, religion and other based on the historical characteristics of the country and leader. Play begins in 4000 BC and can continue until 2050 AD. There are 7 levels of difficulty ranging from Chieftan to Diety. It appears that the level of difficulty is managed by increasing the ability of the opposing AI civilization. The game has several "Advisors" to help you manage your resources, deal with other civilizations, develop your military, pursue technologies and other issues. There are about 6 different ways to win the game including control of territory, conquest of other civ's, diplomacy, building the first space ship, having a dominant culture or accumulating the most points on the "Histograph". There are too many specific features of the game to go into here, so I will focus on the operation on the test platforms.

The game started and ran very smoothly on the iMac. The animations and sounds appeared to work as intended (after upgrade to version 1.17g) and there were no undue delays when opening information or control windows. As the game progresses, the time between turns took a bit longer, but that seemed normal considering the amount of activity going on.
Play on the PowerBook was a bit slower (as expected at only 266 MHz), but still tolerable for a game of this type. The games do take a long time to complete many hours (or days). I found the game very absorbing and stayed up late a few nights in order to complete "just one more turn". I also introduced my 9 year old son to the game anticipating that he would have some difficulty with the strategic and cultural concepts. After a few days he developed a fair level of skill and was even more hooked on the game than I was. Not surprisingly, he most enjoyed the battle action and conquering opposing civilizations. He has since developed a reasonably good understanding of the need to balance the cultural and military elements of the game.

At this time there is no capability for multiple players either on one computer or on a network. So it's just you against the AI interpretations of historical world leaders. There is also no editor available for the Mac, though one has been promised.

Summary
Overall I found the game interesting and absorbing and without serious technical faults. It even provides some degree of historical education value or at least a trigger for younger players to research early civilizations and technical advancements. Since this was my first opportunity to play a game of this genre, I cannot compare it's quality to others, or even it's predecessors. My opinion is that if you like strategy games, you will enjoy playing Civilization III!


System Requirements

  • OS 8.6 or higher or OS 10.0.4 or higher
  • 300MHz G3 or better (500MHz preferred)
  • 64M RAM for the Classic OS (96M preferred), 128M for OS X
  • 500MB Hard disk space (650MB preferred)

Test Systems

  1. iMac 400MHz (DV) 512 MB RAM, 40 GB Drive OS 9.2.2
  2. PowerBook G3 ( Wallstreet) 266 MHz, 192 MB RAM, 4 GB Drive; OS 9.2.2

Pros

  • Runs under OS 9 and OS X
  • Multiple levels of difficulty maintains the challenge
  • Many play environment options to choose from
  • Provides a fair degree of historical education
  • New version releases have overcome several annoying bugs
  • It is fun (addictive) to play


Cons

  • PC to Mac port retains PC oriented controls which can be confusing
  • Multiplayer options not available
  • Network play not available
  • No editor for Mac version (yet)


Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 Mice