Refound, and loved just as much as ever.

User Rating: 9.5 | Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri PC
After playing this game once at the age of ten, i didnt pick it up again until a few days ago. Well, that was quite possibly the worst decision I've ever made. not because the game is bad, you must understand, but because its so damn good. I'm supposed to be doing coursework and revising for exams, not shouting ineffectually as Colonel Santiago claims yet another city that I cleared all the units out of!

All in all, I can safely say that this is the greatest Turn based strategy I have ever played, in the past or now. It's 'one more turn' factor is unbelievable, and I can quite happily while away an entire night and only realise I should go to bed when the birds start singing outside my window. Even then, it takes me a while to tear myself away from the game.

Now then, features and yummy stuff: Although it's from the year of waaaaay back, the graphics fit perfectly with the gameplay, and it's my opinion that flashy 3d effects would actually detract from the game, putting more focus on the eye candy than the core gameplay. The sounds are also dated, and although they don't detract, none of them actually add anything. Except the voice acting. That is incredible. Every piece of research is read out, and although theres nothing complicated or fancy about it, it adds a certain something to the game, making you feel you've achieved something when a quote from Einstein or The Art of War is read out over a description of what your shiny new research does.

Core gamplay is much the same as it ever was in sid meier games, a template that hasn't changed this much even to this day, which only proves that it's a good template. Many things can be automated, from city management to terraforming and even to scouting out new lands or colonisation. The AI takes over seamlessly, picking up tasks that you don't want to do. Not as well as you might, it's true, but well enough. If, however, you prefer to micromanage every step of the game (which you can quite happily do, given that it's turn based) you can turn the Governors (yes, a trait shared with Civ, this game is full of them), stop telling all your units to automate themselves, and geti into the nitty gritty heart of the game. Combat follows the rules you'd expect, with more powerful units winning more fights, until someone comes along with a bigger, better unit and wipes it out.

Getting bigger, better units is all about research, which you can do honestly, getting the tech by the sweat of your own brow, or you can beg, borrow or steal from your opponents. As stated before, each piece of research has its own spoken piece, it's own description, and a redout of what it does. More research also gives you more shiny stuff, like bigger guns, better armour, or shinier chassis to mount your newfound big guns on.

Which brings me to another part I love, (Hell, i love most of it), the unit editor. Although it might seem an old idea now, being able to put together your own doom machine is very satisfying.

Now, although I could go on and on for hours, time for the not so good bits:
It's compatability with newer operating systems is a bit... bad. It took me an hour or so to get all the bits I needed and install them all to get the game to run on a Vista system (including compatibilty mode and run as admin).
Multiplayer seems to me to be lacking, although I'm not sure whether that's a product of it being old or a product of my stupidity.
Another problem is the fact that it's almost impossible to find a hard copy of this awesome game (yes, there's torrents and downloads galore, but half of em don't work and the other half are virus ridden).

All in all, it's an amazing game, and if you can get it working you will be rewarded with what will seem like half an hour of awesome gameplay, but which is in fact several hours. I heartily reccomend anyone to go and get a copy of this game. If you can find a physical copy, grab it, it shouldn't cost too much because it's a before 2000 game. If you can't, try find a download. Seriously. This game is a classic.
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