A masterful aesthetic, like a Kubrick film, elevates this game above both its rivals and predecessors. Wonderous!
1. Cultural Philosophy is embodied in the different factions. Ridded of the heavy baggage accompanying past factions (egyptians, americans), factions are boilded town to philosophical embodiments including relgious fundamentalism and scientific anarchism. 2. Tech tree has actually been thought out. From the quotes from famous literary figures to the theoretical nature of the discoveries, the tech tree makes you actually stop and read. That never happens in other games of this genre.
3. "Planet" is a living breathing player in the game. Not only in the storyline, but also in mindworm opposition, Alpha Centauri gounds civilization in the environment, and forces an amount of eco-friendliness from it's technological business. 4. The graphics and music are wonderous. They effectively immerse your consciousness into the game itself, drawing you in, and bringing you to this planet at the far reaches of space. Absolutely beautiful.
This game makes the "Civilization" series boring and inconsequential.