Just when you thought the Civilization series was
coming to a close, Firaxis and Microprose make the E3
announcement that they've gotten back together to design
Civilization 3. In the meantime, Microprose, holder of the coveted
Civilization license, has been back at work on Civilization 2.
What!?! There’s another Civilization 2? Yes Virginia, there really is
a Santa Claus, er a new Civilization 2, this time under the name
Civ 2: The Test of Time.
This iteration of Civ 2 still contains much of the original
Civ 2, and in fact the original Civ 2 is an option for playing style. With
the release of Alpha Centauri, the standard historical world that
Civ was so heavily based upon, was expanded to create a sci-fi,
futuristic Civ 2. In Test of Time (ToT), two expansions build upon where Alpha
Centauri took this game. The first expansion is the sci-fi game. This
one is very close to where Alpha Centauri went. There’s a new
research tree, new graphics, new units, etc. It feels a lot like Alpha
Centauri without the “build-your-own-units” aspect. The other
expansion is the fantasy game. The fantasy game lets you play
with elves and so on with once again, a new research tree, new
graphics, and new units.
Aside from the two new game styles, there’s also the
original and a new expanded original. The original is just what it
means, Civ. The expanded original style adds aliens and a few
other features to the game, which gives it a little more flavor. The
gameplay itself hasn’t changed at all from Civ 2, there are just a
few primary additions and enhancements that help revive a game
that has been plodding away for three years now. The ability to go
between worlds is quite cool as well. The three new game styles
allow you to go between different ‘planets’ once you have gotten
the required technology to travel between them. It makes the
game MUCH bigger. Bigger usually makes things better, so it’s …
interesting at least.
The first thing you’ll notice after starting a new game is the new graphics. One of my biggest gripes about Civ 2 and Alpha Centauri was the lack of animation. It just made both seem stale. ToT has not only animation across the map, but units are also animated. The coloring and detail have been greatly improved since the original Civ 2 came out. It’s brighter and livelier; however, the units are very fuzzy looking, which seems odd in contrast to the quality of the rest of the image enhancements. I also noticed that occasionally units from the fantasy game would shift to the enhanced original units and back again. Makes it look somewhat unpolished. I think Microprose could have devoted a little more time to the unit graphics, although I do appreciate the animation.
Audio is your typical Civ style music. It’s different from
the original, but no worse and no better. Effects are mostly
rehashed sound effects from Civ 2 with some additional ones for
the new units. The new sounds are on par with the original.
Cutscenes for each of the advancements are new and are a little
bit better in caliber then the predecessors.
Multiplayer, which was added in Civ 2 Gold, is also an
option for the Civ 2 junkie. While multiplayer Civ 2 games are not
what I consider fun, it nonetheless has it’s own little following.
Like Civ 2 Gold, multiplayer works well and the new game styles
and options will make it, like single player, a bit more interesting.
All in all, Test of Time is a heck of a revamp for Civ 2. If
you don’t already have Civ 2 or Civ 2 Gold, then by all means, this
is the best in the package. You get more for your money in ToT,
but if you’ve already gotten Civ 2 Gold (since the multiplayer
option is a nice feature), then you might want to pass on it. It’s got
nice, polished graphics and a load of new features, but the game
really hasn’t changed too much. I’ve also got to say, that with the
addition of the sci-fi game style, Alpha Centauri continues its
downward spiral in my opinion (even IF PCGamer thinks it’s the
best game ever to grace mankind). Civilization 2 IS the king of this genre
and maybe with the new co-op between Firaxis and Microprose,
they’ll come up with a Civilization 3 that will be out of this world.
Highs: New Graphics, Multiplayer, Totally New Game
Styles make it not so Civ-like.
Lows: One can only play Civ for SO long before it gets old,
Fuzzy unit sprites.
Note: Although this really isn’t an ‘ADDON’ I am scoring it as one.