After the disappointing example set by X-COM 2, many gamers expected Civilization II to be nothing more than Sid Meier's original game with a few new graphics tacked on. Others were worried that the game's designers would stray too far from the path, and would ruin the spectacular play balance that made Civilization such a hit. In the end, the design team at Microprose managed to add a score of new play elements that help the aging strategy classic evolve - without sacrificing the game's addictive qualities.
Although players familiar with the original Civilization will probably be able to jump in and start playing right away, a swarm of new features definitely warrants a few minutes with the manual. What players will most likely notice first is the much greater number of races to choose from, including the Sioux, the Carthaginians, and the Chinese, as well as a customizing option that lets you create any personal favorites the designers may have missed. This time around, cultural variations are also represented onscreen by four different city growth patterns. The fantastic number of new combat units adds limitless possibilities, as players figure out new ways to use marines (who can attack from the sea), cruise missiles, paratroopers, and even religious fanatics to their best advantage. For those who grew tired of the chaotic battlegrounds of the original game (remember when that chariot took out your battleship?), there's a new warfare system that gives units a score in both firepower and hit points for more realistic combat results. All of these features combine to give the game a powerful depth, and enough variation to ensure that players will be loading this one up for months to come.
Plenty of little details in Civilization II are also worth noting: an improved graphics set featuring a three-quarters viewpoint similar to Syndicate or Crusader, entertaining sound effects that range from the trumpet of an elephant to the air raid sirens of an atomic attack, full-motion video clips for each of the civilization advances, and a full map editor that enables players to design their own fields of conquest. Although the game suffers from its lack of multiplayer options, there's really nothing available that can compete with its depth of play, subtlety of challenge, and pure addictive potential. The fact is, if you're a strategy fan, you've already bought this game, and if you're not, this title could turn you around.