9.5

A game I had to recommend. Definitely one of the games that inspired me to start writing reviews.

Game play
It has all the trappings of the civilization games but goes beyond it. First off, it must be pointed out that the entire premise of Alpha Centauri and the Civilization series clearly sets them apart.

What am I referring to? It is the attitude of each of the leaders of the factions. Now, in Civilization IV the attitude is based upon data in your current game like the threat you pose to them, your alliances and past actions. Alpha Centauri has this, and you can sense it in the game even thought its algorithm might be dated. However Alpha Centauri has something more, much more. It is the ethics, of each faction leader that makes this game stand out. Military, knowledge, religion, wealth, political machinations and environmentalism all play a role. This is something the Civilization series lack and in my opinion, probably will never, ever be able to integrate. You can shift your social engineering to knowledge, and Sister Miriam will have something to say, choose free market and expect extra comments from Deidre, chose green and Morgan will tell you how impractical it is. Now, this aspect of the game play is seamlessly integrated with the basic attitude I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. Morgan might despise your green economics but will take into account the factors indigenous to Civilization IV. Thus, if you're powerful, his reprimand might come in a bit tactful, but if you're pathetically weak, expect a more stern and unforgiving stance.

Now, with regards to the technology tree, this is something that makes the game complicated but almost infinitely varied. After a few hour of play with a basic tech tree like those in the Civilization series, you get a sense of what to do to a point that it's just a matter of repeating these efficient decisions with each new game. The complex technology tree of Alpha Centauri might come as a bit overwhelming at first but in the long run you'll realize that this gives you a lot of flexibility. Started off in a small island? Choose Doctrine of Mobility and then Flexibility. Started off surrounded by mineral rich soil? Scrap the Doctrine of Flexibility and choose Centauri Ecology. No immediate threats? Dozens of options to research Build and Discover. Got into a fight early? Focus on Conquer techs.

The next best thing about this game is the secret projects and the cinematic following their completion. There is a practical philosophy behind each of them. In case you're wondering if these projects are blurred technobabbles like those of Star Trek, think again. The most proper example would be the Large Hadron Collider and the Super Collider project.

Music/Sound
The music is unmistakably synthesizer material but its interactive nature makes it ahead of time. When Factions declare war against you and when you're engaging another unit, a proper musical score is triggered to match the event. Sometimes since the war declaration script is repetitive (can't blame them) you can just skip reading it after hearing the said music. The sound however may also be repetitive but it does not get annoying after many hours, an indicator of this game's classic nature.

Graphics
Graphics are of course dated but there is an artistic aspect that must be addressed and highlighted. I didn't mention unit customization in the game play to limit the length of this review but it must be mentioned here in the graphics. Graphics can be improved with new shader technologies, new engines, new physics but the art of making guns, and chassis fit together in a myriad of possible ways is impressive. You can have a graviton gun or a chaos gun on a cruiser chassis but it will look right either way. This is the artistic talent that is easy to miss but needs recognition.

Overall
Another classic I had to recommend.

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