Civilization IV: Colonization Multiplayer Hands-On

The New World isn't any easier with friends, but it's more fun.

If there's one thing settlers learned as they colonized the New World, it's that you always need a little help from your friends. Be it in the form of corn-farming lessons from the natives or an extra shipment of supplies from the homeland, a helping hand could ensure survival through a harsh winter in a strange new land. With that in mind, Civilization IV: Colonization is a strategy game more focused on trade and forging new alliances than it is about wiping out natives and competing colonies with musket fire.

We learned this lesson playing a LAN multiplayer match of Colonization this week. In addition to traditional LAN play and online modes, there's a direct IP connection, a hot seat mode in which multiple players take their turns on the same computer, and a slower-paced play-by-e-mail mode for those who don't have four hours to spare for the quick game. Yes, that's four hours for a quick game.

The American city DudeFest stood no chance against the cannons of New France.

We took control of Samuel de Champlain set off in hopes of establishing a fruitful French colony, and quickly began construction on Quebec in the Southern Hemisphere. The Cherokee and the Arawak tribes were both located in close proximity, but gifts of rum and tools kept them happy neighbors. Keeping the natives happy, you'll quickly learn, is of immense importance in Colonization. What their villages lack in technology is offset by the huge combat advantage braves have in the forests, swamps, and hills. Building too closely to their villages is the easiest way to start a costly war that, early on in the game as you don't have many guns, you will lose.

It wasn't long before we ran into a village belonging to the English—controlled by another player. The city was low on resources, and it was the hope of that player that founding near our border would stymie our nation’s growth. In a way, this worked, because as it turns out, you can place citizens in your city’s town hall to increase patriotism. This caused the small borders of the city to expand so that several production squares in our city, Montreal, were cut off.

At the same time in the far north, another of our opponents, playing as the Dutch, was growing his holdings at a tremendous pace. The Dutch begin the game with advantages in trade, such as the Merchantman ship class from the opening of the match, and the colonies' treasury was filling quickly by trading raw silver and fur coats. However, we did commission a privateer unit to start raiding these wealthy Dutch ships for their goods. Privateers sail without their nation's colors, so they can attack without declaring war. Utilizing privateers in multiplayer is a fun way to pester your opponents without entering a costly war.

By building up your resources early in the game, you can focus on weapons production later during the endgame. Early on it seems the best strategy is to offer open trade borders to your counterparts, even building an alliance when your king eventually sends its expeditionary force after you when you declare independence.

With France’s skilled lumberjacks and carpenters, we constructed new buildings at a rapid pace. With expert iron ore miners, blacksmiths, and gunsmiths, tools and weapons became widely available through our domain. In another of our nearby cities, we ordered pioneers to improve the land by building lodges, mines, farms, and roads--this increases the amount of resources produced, and also decreases the time it takes to transport goods overland via wagon train. The French faction seems to have the ability to build a powerful economy indeed--we were also able to commission expert silver miners to producing staggering amounts of the precious metal. We then shipped the silver back to our home nation of France to purchase elder statesman and master tobacconists. Elder statesmen in city hall increase production of liberty bells that increase rebel sentiment--necessary to declare independence from your home nation later in the game--as well as increase the size of territory belonging to your nation. When your nation possesses enough influence--especially when you commission such powerful helpers to your cause--your borders can eventually come to surround several Native American villages. In this case, the chiefs of the villages we surrounded offered the settlements as gifts to our cause and relocated to the west. Tobacconists, naturally, produce tasty cigars that can be sold in Europe for a tidy profit

Over time, we developed our colony and attracted powerful founding father characters like Patrick Henry and Martha Washington. However, we remained mindful of the number of turns we had remaining in the game, since the ultimate goal of the game is to build your fledgling settlements into a nation that’s powerful enough to fight off the advances of your home country and declare independence. In fact, this end game provides the most difficulty in Colonization. As rebel sentiment in our colonies grew, the king of our home nation of France added soldiers, artillery, and warships to his expeditionary forces. We found our own forces to be woefully inadequate in comparison, but rebel sentiment in our colonies had eclipsed 50 percent. Rebel sentiment increases over time as your home nation levies more and more usurious taxes from your overworked colonists. In our case, the tax rate soared to 25 percent and our elder statesmen finally clamored for revolution.

And so, we declared our independence in the game year of 1755 and formed a new nation. When you take this bold step in Colonization, you must draft a constitution that declares a decisive direction for your new nation. This includes whether or not your nation will allow for slavery, whether it will subscribe to the belief of Manifest Destiny (versus rights for the natives), and whether you wish to have separation of church and state (versus a theocracy). Each of these decisions offer a variety of bonuses. For instance, you’ll have more production if you adopt slavery, but you have increased combat strength if every man is created equal. After crafting the constitution, our citizens were ready for a new beginning without taxes and tyranny. They were ready for a new country. And in the game year of 1762, just seven turns later, they were squashed flat

Insert elder statesmen in town hall to expand your borders.

What separates Colonization from other strategy games is that it’s really two games in one. 90 percent of the game is spent cultivating resources, building cities, and increasing rebel sentiment. The final turns are devoted to smashing the king's ground troops in order to claim independence. If you don’t develop a strong enough economy with a proud enough nation of people, you’ll never muster up a strong enough army. And if you don’t have a strong enough army, the government of your parent country will crush you. As we saw, this can be a tougher task in a multiplayer game where you not only have to contend with your greedy home nation’s king and his outrageous taxes, but also with rival players looking to carve out the New World in their images. However, the game’s multiplayer mode can accommodate as many as eight players total, and two players can cooperatively control a single colony. In any case, from what we can tell, Colonization will offer an intriguing and engrossing multiplayer experience if you and your friends can spare the time. The game is scheduled to ship later this month

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Discussion

44 comments
Pavski
Pavski

Holy cow! I remember playing the pixellated colonization a decade ago! Omg, that game with good graphics is going to OWN! XP

osama99
osama99

A-haaaaaa! I find it intolerable that the game has been released for at least 2 hours now, and a full review isn't ready and posted yet! Outrageous! Intolerable I say! :P :D

PAFT
PAFT

Wow!!! Finally, after all, this game will be a hit. Like the former Colonization a decade ago.

odechant
odechant

Can't wait the game looks super sweet. I only hope that they have added enough flexibility in terms of successful play styles to satisfy my controlling nature! Too many games limit to a rigid formula required for game victory, Civilization is one of the best at letting the play choose his own path to success, can't wait to play it up tomorrow.

ttamdude
ttamdude

@ legalcounsel, just a friendly point-out: Privateers and "Dutch starting with a merchantman" are both old points that were included in the original Colonization. I have no idea if they are improved in any way, but in general they are both old ideas. Just wanted to point out those minor things, but in general I agree with your optimistic hopes about this game, I cant wait to play it tomorrow.

legalcounsel
legalcounsel

OEpicuriusO -- Just from reading the MP review above, there seem to be several new things. The mention a "Lodge" which is new. The way that territory expands with patriotism (ala culture in Civ4) is new. The choices of constitution you have are new. "Martha" Washington is new. Privateers might be new, I don't remember for sure. They implied that certain nations might have certain unit advantages ("France's skilled lumberjacks and carpenters" and the Dutch having the "Merchantman class of ship from the beginning.) So, like the addition of dancing in "Pirates!" this version seems like more than a new coat of paint. I'm very anxious to see the review and buy it new week!

jjdomo
jjdomo

Webrider Posted Sep 13, 2008 6:15 am PT "I would love it if they compared the 4% tea tax that started the war over the 36% income tax of today not to mention every other kind of tax you can think of, gas tax property tax, f.i.c.a. tax, sales tax on and on." Dude--it wasn't the amount of the tax itself, it was because there was taxation without representation. We're taxed more heavily now, but we elect the people who impose the taxes; whereas the colonies were subjected to taxes and quartering soldiers and all kinds of unfair stuff without having any say whatsoever. Taxation without representation! That's what started it all.

FootFetish24
FootFetish24

make a new civ already! the graphics are getting on my nerves.

FootFetish24
FootFetish24

make a new civ already! the graphics are getting on my nerves.

Jevulen
Jevulen

0Epicurius0, you get multiplayer and I'd wager some more changes. Seems there's something like Civ IV:s culture going on there with those statesmen making the borders bigger.

roody15
roody15

Love the original. It is only 3.5MB, so much happiness came from such a small file. Can't wait for the remake, although I probably won't be able to put it all my computers with a flash drive quite so readily.

0Epicurius0
0Epicurius0

Has there been any comments on how this new version will improve on the original other than spruced up graphics? I mean...we all seem to love the original....what about this new version should I look forward to that will convince me to spend my money? I REALLY want to know this because I do love the original. I still play it occasionally. But if all I get is some graphics, then I will pass on this one and continue playing the original. Anybody know?

coustas
coustas

I take it that this is the new version of Colonization that the wife and I have been waiting for since we first got it for (and still play regularly on)the Amiga. It was a much superior game to Civilization and we could never understand why there was no follow up. One of the things I liked was the random creation of lands/islands for each new game. Settlers I also had this but it was replaced in Settlers II by a range of preset, and very boring, scenarios. Look forward to trying this one out, particularly if they have retained the random creation of new lands.

usws
usws

Loved the original, looks like this one could be just as lovable. Mine mine mine!

uberjannie
uberjannie

MINE! DIBS! Must buy, I played the original so much!

seen21
seen21

Besides a bit cultural 'fighting' and a message of a privateer send north I miss how this is a MP report. Yet cant wait to try it myself :)

uglynuncreative
uglynuncreative

Nothing about Civ Rev made sense unless you're a deprived douche who was brought up on consoles and never actually played a strategy game that had enough management options to make a keyboard requisite for play. Civ Rev should've been called Civilization:Retarded.

F1_2004
F1_2004

Re: no reason to fight, at least in the original game, there was no corruption or any penalties associated with a large number of colonies. Combine that with limited/expendable natural resources - and the more colonies you had, the better off you were. Eastern America only has so much room before you start running into space issues with natives and other Europeans. Especially with the new borders, space will be at a premium, since ships are much faster than wagons and shore land will be highly sought after.

toyota23
toyota23

Im looking so forward to this game! i loved colonization 1, and i now i will love this game))))

toyota23
toyota23

Im looking so forward to this game! i loved colonization 1, and i now i will love this game))))

ScottMcFly
ScottMcFly

To address some points: - You can customise the game length before a game, 300 turns is just one of the options, you can have longer games if you like. - This technically is a free-standing game, but is kind of an offshoot of Civ, kinda like the original Colonization was an offshoot of Civ 1. Cheaper price point though so it's all good, and you don't need Civ IV to run it. - In the original game I tend to avoid conflict with other nations if I think they'll beat me, but if you can beat another nation and capture all their colonies (cities, basically) then there's big rewards to be had and you'll be able to use the gold, colonies and units you'll gain to your advantage against the king. Heck, even with the gold alone you should be able to pay for more units to cover any you lost. And I just can't wait for this to come out, I've always been more of a Colonization than Civ fan and although the original is still one of my favourites, there's some things you just wish would be improved or tweaked and this game looks like it'll do all that and more. :D

ttamdude
ttamdude

@ mbarczyk, if you've never played the orriginal Colonization you might be a little confused and you are definintly missing out. It is an ancient game now, but it still has a place on my hard drive.

mbarczyk
mbarczyk

Its a Civ game so I have to get it, but this Colonization idea doesnt really look interesting to me - I wanna take over the world dammit, not just a continent, I wanna sail back to France and take the Kings scalp! Yeeehaaaw, Bang Bang!

Archon_basic
Archon_basic

I'm glad Firaxis went with a $30 price point, there's no way I'm passing that up. I can't wait for the 22nd. :D

IMaBIOHAZARD
IMaBIOHAZARD

when's this releasing again? I can't fricking wait

Sarcerok
Sarcerok

Might want to proof paragraph 4 again manually, it looks bad.

trasherhead
trasherhead

can't wait to play this :) Been so long since I played the original.

Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

Brings back memories of the old Colonization. Fingers crossed it is just as good!

DonVladinho
DonVladinho

I think this is not an expansion but I am not sure.. :D

BigDaddy973
BigDaddy973

Nice!!! more focus on trade and less on fighting, which is cool!

greedom
greedom

Sounds like fun. It also sounds like they could've just made it an expansion pack.

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

Now if only this would come to the consoles :).

haselyn
haselyn

I like how its looking.

IXIWhistIXI
IXIWhistIXI

I don't see why I'd bother with this game over civ 4 or rev.

SuperMarioDude1
SuperMarioDude1

i hope they use CivRev's worker system it made a lot of sense

cloudy14
cloudy14

Oh yeah and i like the detail they've added into the general gameplay and how you conduct your relations but otherwise bring back action.

cloudy14
cloudy14

This seems to have taken every focus off fighting and i think will be quite boring if u can get srushed by the slightest of native tribes. Civilization needs to turn back towards more fighting based games in my opinion.

Webrider
Webrider

I would love it if they compared the 4% tea tax that started the war over the 36% income tax of today not to mention every other kind of tax you can think of, gas tax property tax, f.i.c.a. tax, sales tax on and on.

fw190a8
fw190a8

There are plenty of reasons to fight. For example, perhaps you have run out of room to expand, or perhaps you anticipate a rival will be more powerful later in the game and want to weaken him or her nice and early.

Lordx67
Lordx67

Only 300 turns?That's a bit limiting...

Blaiyze1
Blaiyze1

Hmm seems okay but abit shallow? Really i think its possible to go a whole game without attacking anyone else (other than your king's troops). Because in the end there is absolutely no reason to fight and in the end you will end up weaker even if you boot out another player.