Civilization IV: Colonization First Look

The battle for the Americas has begun. Welcome to the New World.

Life wasn't easy for the colonists at Jamestown. Just two years after John Smith founded the settlement in Virginia, only 60 of the more than 200 colonists survived a mass food shortage that came to be known as the Starving Times. Colonists constantly feuded with Native American tribes. And as for Smith, his bag of gunpowder exploded while attached to his belt, and he was forced to return to England for treatment. Think you can do better? In Civilization IV: Colonization, you can.

A remake of the original Sid Meier's Colonization released in 1994, this version uses the Civ IV engine and focuses on the settlement of the New World, during which you tackle such standard colonial issues as relations with the natives and, you know, declaring your independence from an oppressive monarchy. The game takes place entirely in colonial times, from about 1600 to 1800, so you won't be researching nuclear power or manned space flight. Probably the furthest you'll progress on the tech tree is upgrading to rum and cigars from your respective sugar and tobacco resources, which actually doesn't sound bad at all.

When taken by the British, New Amsterdam is rechristened New York. No word on whatever happened to the New Red Light District.

The goal of Colonization is to found a colony and eventually gather enough of your citizens' support--known as rebel sentiment--to declare your independence and stave off the military response from your homeland in Europe. How you do that is up to you, but in general you'll need to gather enough resources and wealth to fatten up your citizens and convince them to create a country of their own. A little negative propaganda against the motherland never hurt, either, but that's just Common Sense.

There are four countries to choose from, each with its own leaders and bonuses. English settlers are led by George Washington and John Adams, and are regarded for their tolerance. As such, an English colony will have a healthy influx of immigrants to add to your workforce.

The Dutch are championed by Peter Stuyvesant, who is credited for introducing tea to the colonies and overseeing the construction of a wall in New Netherland, which later became New York. Next to the wall, coincidentally, ran Wall Street. He is joined by Adriaen van der Donck, the first lawyer to live in the Dutch colonies (who just happened to lead a political uprising against Governor Stuyvesant). The Dutch receive a mercantile bonus, and prices for goods will not fluctuate.

The French are headed by Samuel de Champlain and Louis de Buade de Frontenac. Champlain was the famed explorer who founded Quebec City and is widely considered the father of New France, whereas Frontenac was twice governor of New France. The French are known for their cooperation and receive extra bonuses from allied natives.

On the other hand, natives do not like Spain, mostly because Spanish colonists enjoy a conquistador bonus and can slice through native ranks like a hot knife through butter. The syphilis probably doesn't help, either. Spain is led by Simon Bolivar, who organized the independence of most of northern New Spain, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru. Jose de San Martin is considered Argentina's national hero for his role in liberating much of southern New Spain.

Four colonies aren't much to choose from, and the Portuguese are a notable omission. The Italians made the rounds. Heck, even Germany gave colonization a shot in Venezuela. The New World was anyone's game in the 1600s, and it seems that having only four countries to choose from is a bit limiting. The game is also played out on randomly generated maps as per past Civ games, which is too bad. A real-world Manifest Destiny mode on a geographically accurate map, on which colonies would each have to race to dominate the Americas, would have been a fun idea. Such geography remains reserved for the Total War franchise, but at least Colonization will ship with a nifty map editor.

As you lay the foundations for self-sufficiency, diplomacy with the natives will play a crucial role. The Pilgrims didn't get very far without the help of the natives--we even have a holiday for it. Canada, too. Though there's no Thanksgiving in the game, you'll be thankful if you play your cards right with the native tribes, which include the Iroquois, Aztecs, Sioux, Cherokee, Incan, Tupi, and Apache. You can befriend tribes in a few different ways. The most straightforward method is to give in to the chief's requests for trade and to not encroach on the tribe's land or resources. A more subversive way is to build missions and churches and simply convert them, which also gives you a handy influx of manual labor. If you befriend a tribe, you'll receive trade bonuses, and they may even aid you in battle against other tribes or colonies, which will also be fighting for sovereignty during their turns.

We played for a few minutes as the British and quickly established a colony at Jamestown. An Iroquois village was positioned nearby, and the chief was so pleased at our presence that he sang kumbaya to celebrate--seriously. Your resources include tobacco, lumber, sugar, cotton, furs, ore, and food, each important in increasing your population, building new structures, and researching new technologies and farming methods. Before you declare independence, be sure to purchase new technologies that you can find only in Europe. The natives also have exclusive techs to offer, including master tobacco farmer and master scout.

When you eventually reach more than 50 percent of rebel sentiment, you can choose to valiantly declare your independence and trigger an inspirational cutscene in which you raise the American flag over a fort and fire cannons into the distance. Our patriotism was quickly squashed under the boots of a giant army of invading redcoats. It's important to build up your local militia and minutemen, and to construct some warships before deciding to secede. Otherwise, as with our case, troops armed with cannons and state-of-the-art warships will run over your scattered troops and reclaim the colonies in the name of the king. If you do stave off the invading forces, you will claim victory and your fledgling nation will go on to invent baseball and apple pie.

Refine resources such as tobacco into cigars. Refined goods fetch a pretty pence.

At this point, Colonization looks like classic, award-winning Civ gameplay reskinned with muskets and coonskin hats. In addition to a few single-player scenarios, expect four-player online multiplayer, as well as a play-by-email mode. For those eager to fight taxation without representation, Colonization is slated for release this fall.

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Discussion

88 comments
brandonhe
brandonhe

Can't wait to try and play the new colonization. The old one is pretty good other than the very dodgy graphics. Also the graphics on the pics shown are way better than the old game. I like it how they are using the civ 4 system of have borders.

scyldschefing
scyldschefing

This might surprise you, PhoenixBlade, but there are so very many nations in the world that not all of them could possibly be represented in a Civilization game, and to be honest the small peninsula hanging off the west of Eurasia has more than its fair share of representation. That's not to say that the West's current cultural hegemony shouldn't be recognized, but still not every nation in the world can be represented. Also, the Zulu did have a nation-state, though it only lasted for 80 years thanks to the British invasion. I agree, however, that the Portuguese should have been inluded in Colonization.

PhoenixBlade
PhoenixBlade

Wow... The previewer actually acknowledges the existence and importance of the Portuguese in the colonization of the Americas (Brazil ring a bell?), which is something that Firaxis, all through these years of making Civilization games has steadily ignored. Not only am I impressed, but I wish to send him/ her full kudos. Instead, keep putting in the Zulu which didn't even have a civilization. Great going Firaxis! You rock Sid!

Signal2Noise
Signal2Noise

Bleh! I think Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri 2 would have been a more exciting announcement.

grambyte
grambyte

Since first time I got my hands on a CIV game I was sold. So looking forward for this one as well.

_Sam_
_Sam_

this seems really cool

gamah_killah
gamah_killah

Not my type of game but I know fans would appreciate this

Skinless_Snail
Skinless_Snail

This sounds exactly like the original, which means it will be a great game.

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

So it's like that Civ 4 scenario but it lasts a bit longer and has a lot more techs. Hmm, not sure if I'm up to another month of "red-button-addiction"... the water and the boats look nice though >.>

Strife88
Strife88

I haven't played any of the Civ. games, but with the last one it caught my attention.

carstairs
carstairs

I didn't expect it, but I might get this.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

So we will be learning while we are having fun? genius

coruscant
coruscant

like GS says, they should have made it look like the Americas, rather than have random maps.

jedicommand7
jedicommand7

I always loved Colonization, and I wish they would include a few new features, such as more available home countries, etc. This game will hopefully be relatively cheap, cause if it's just the same game with better pictures and graphics, it won't be worth $49.99.

HonestSun
HonestSun

The old Colonization is still one of my favorite games. I often reinstall my old DOS version just to play once again. If they are to bring out a "graphically-new" version of the game, I'll just be in heaven. Actually, the fact that they didn't seem to have brought much "new" stuff is really good to me since I'd rather play the old game than a poor remake/tryout at other things....

triptychhunter
triptychhunter

Let me remind all of you who are saying "it looks like a sad excuse for a mod" that this is a remake of a MUCH loved and still played game called Colonization from the early 90s. It isn't supposed to throw a lot of new, fancy features into the mix. Otherwise, diehard Colonization fans, like myself, would get seriously pissed. I'm excited by the fact that Sid is respecting the many fans of the original enough to leave a majority of the original features alone. That said, I'm excited about the new graphics and can't wait to see what the Civ4 engine can bring to the proverbial table. The original Colonization was amazing and I hope this update can bring it into the 21st century for many other people to enjoy. I do think Firaxis is making a slight marketing mistake by trying to tie it with the Civ4 series though. That just makes it look like a mod, instead of being an update of a pre-existing game. And the original game only included 4 countries, so it would make sense that the remake did as well. The original also included a playable map of the Americas, so hopefully we will see that in here too.

cloudy14
cloudy14

After 2 big expansions already i'd of thought that they would have gone for something big and flashy but this looks like a waste of money for something so small.

aik_jimbo
aik_jimbo

"canis_rah Looks too much like a mod to have a life of its own." I agre, this wont make it all the way.. i can make a game like this :P plz 2k

canis_rah
canis_rah

Looks too much like a mod to have a life of its own.

dr00pah
dr00pah

That was really long time ago when me and my mates played all Civ-games. But this one was one of the best. Looking forward to it. Especially with new cool-looking gfx + some specialities! =)

geminisama
geminisama

I love the Civ games and all...but this looks like just another mod. :/

moriety
moriety

Baseball: "The game of rounders has been played in England since Tudor Times, with the earliest reference being in 1744 in "A Little Pretty Pocketbook" where it is called baseball. This explains why the two games are similar, and in fact many students of baseball accept that their sport is derived from Rounders. This is the name used by Jane Austen in "Northanger Abbey". "The Boy's Own Book" of 1828 devoted a chapter to Rounders and in 1889 the Liverpool and Scottish Rounders Association was formed. The first official rules did away with the practice of putting a running batter out by hitting them with a thrown ball." Except from the National Rounders Association found here: http://www.nra-rounders.co.uk/dyncat.cfm?catid=17177 I'm also wrong- I thought it was originally a French game developed at the Royal Court- perhaps it is- Any French people who know?

moriety
moriety

Gladestone, Baseball is a DEVELOPMENT of Rounders, you get your facts right mate. A franchise and a name change does not turn it into an American invention. The colonists played Rounders and it developed from there into what you now call Baseball. Look up the rules for Rounders. The game does look good if enough of the original is left in to make it distinctly Colonisation, not Civilisation game- The original gave me a few years of pleasure.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Um baseball is a american franchise, it started in hoboken NJ..Moriety get your facts straight...Game looks great though..Could be fun any how...

moriety
moriety

Neither Apple Pie or Baseball are American inventions, the cheeky devil. Baseball is a varient of Rounders and Apple pie was common in Roman times and VERY common in England at the time of the colonies.

danzo234
danzo234

Sounds a good game, woundt mind some historical/georaphical accuracy from the civ series in all, and RT battles would make it so much more fun, but then thats probs why I prefer the TW series!

Vampyre11487
Vampyre11487

Nice touch with the: negative propaganda is just "Common Sense". Brings me back to grade school history classes.

dekosokoloski
dekosokoloski

OKs the way i see this game is nothing more then improvment on the original sorta say hm remake by that definition to me its natural that only the original 4 countrys should be playable, regardless of the fact what other countrys did in colonization its as simple as that a remake and in temake u should stick to the original. On the hand about the world maps all u that played colonization know that there was no map of europe in it what so ever you just kinda slide the ship to the far edge of water and in few turns says your ship arrived in europe. On qustion of should the map show the continents America well that i think it will show but shell wait and see when its on my pc till them i am happilly waiting.

Tomsie85
Tomsie85

I played the original on the Amiga when i was younger; It was a great game and I have fond memories. I'd imagine it will have a America map, as it was included on the Amiga version, as well as random map ed, and that was 14 years ago.

PvtFreddy
PvtFreddy

I'm a big fan of the history behind the creation of America, the founding fathers, etc. And I've just got myself back into the Civ series from, nearly 4 years of WoW. I'm only a starter, again, but looking forward to this and with a slightly different tech tree, it sounds good.

megadisc
megadisc

omg... so cute... i also want to be civlised leh penang laksa also nice to eat leh

Sins-of-Mosin
Sins-of-Mosin

I'll stick with Civ Revolution and wait for Civ 5.

GANGSTA287
GANGSTA287

Wonderful... I'll even have Civ Revolution to hold me over till it comes out

StopH8tn
StopH8tn

I cant wait til this comes out. And Im not worried about the fact they dont have real world maps it probably have mods and someone will eventually have one....

AKing27
AKing27

Destman, stfu. You sound opiniated, naive and arrogant. I kinda get the feeling that they would also get a lookaround the game - maybe only play one, but the devs would show them some of the features. And also, when they set the game up, they woud probably have been able to set the map if they wanted to. And stop being stupid. Christopher Columbus served SPAIN. The game isn't just Colonization original remade, it's been updated too, y'know. Anyway, I'll stop ranting. This game looks absolutely brilliant, just like the rest of the Civ series, can't wait to play it!

The_Fat_Zebra
The_Fat_Zebra

Even though destman was wrong on the queen of England part, he is right on his critique of this review. Especially the "At this point, Colonization looks like classic, award-winning Civ gameplay reskinned with muskets and coonskin hats." - remark is somewhat backward. At the time Civ I and Colonization very much stood apart. Additionally, I simply cannot believe they wouldn't include a map of the americas; otherwise, where's the fun?

malik360
malik360

Hmmmm, is it just me or was not the slave trade a major part of american history. So when i research trans atlantic trade, plantation, etc i'lll get my self some nice free labor right ?

JimmyCos
JimmyCos

columbia is in north america not in south america, its colOmbia :)

uberjannie
uberjannie

"played out on randomly generated maps" dont like the sound of this xD But im a huge fan of the original and sid meier in general. This is a must buy =)

Cdfootball
Cdfootball

This game looks sweet. And good thing you don't need Civ 4 to play it! Destman, you need to reread your comment, because it sounds horribly opinionated and inaccurate.

guerrero
guerrero

Is ColOmbia not Columbia!!

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

Can't wait for this. I was a massive fan of the 95 release and played it to death. Will be interesting to see what they've kept from the original and what new features have been included.

mrbass208
mrbass208

"A little negative propaganda against the motherland never hurt, either, but that's just Common Sense." I doubt 80% of the readers will get the joke at first glance, but that's just horrible and you know it.

juankperez147
juankperez147

Destman, dont be a donkey, Christopher Columbus didn't "served the Queen of England and reported his finding of the new world to HER". He served the QUEEN OF SPAIN. Thats why in almost all of the countries of America people speak spanish.