Activision brought Call to Power II by the GameSpot offices yesterday to give us a new look at the follow-up to last year's ambitious heir to the Civilization name. These screenshots show off the overall higher level of detail of the game's 2D environments and units, but the bulk of the changes to the game comes in the form of gameplay tweaks. Diplomacy, city growth, and the late game technology tree have all been reworked to provide deeper and more intuitive strategic play.
Some of the enhancements bring the game more in line with last year's other big turn-based title, Alpha Centauri. Empires now exert a discrete sphere of influence on the territories surrounding their cities, as shown by the new national borders. When players do get down to negotiating with other empires, though, they'll find a wider range of dialog options, and other empires will now counteroffer and won't necessarily reject offers out of hand. A "mayor" AI for the empire's cities has been added to automate the build queue for city structures and units as well as the placement of farms, mines, and roads.
Other improvements are directed at Call to Power's innovations. The trade mechanics have been reworked to consider the overall scarcity of a particular good in the game world, and the interface no longer arbitrarily separates internal and external trade. Unconventional warfare units - the ecoterrorists, slavers, and lawyers that so harassed players of Call to Power - are very much a part of the sequel, but any type of unconventional unit can now spot another. This means players won't be forced to spread their research across all branches of the tech tree just to detect and counteract these pesky threats.
Overall, technological advancement won't seem as rushed in Call to Power II since the game's timeline is being shortened by seven centuries (running from 4000 BC to 2300 AD) while the game moves to a full 500-turn format. The game will also do away with space cities and units to keep the endgame more focused on dense land and sea development.
Another of the game's new features is that a city's area of influence for resource-gathering in the surrounding countryside will grow as the city grows, which means that new trade goods and more resources will become available as your city matures. This territory growth doesn't just simply increase in a circle, but will deform to accommodate other cities, creating a continuous patchwork that never puts vital resources frustratingly out of reach.
Call to Power II is scheduled for release this holiday season.