When Sid Meier's Civilization was first released, it seemed the perfect venue for multi-player gaming. At that time, though, on-line gaming was still in its infancy, and the idea of a networkable version of the title was put on the back burner for awhile. Now there's CivNet, a game that maintains the addictive qualities of the original, in a format that delivers the added challenge that comes only with human opponents. Unfortunately, hindered by tragically slow response speeds and overshadowed by the release of Civilization 2, the final form of the long-awaited CivNet is somewhat disappointing.
For all intents and purposes, the game is Civilization with a slick new Windows interface. As in the original, each player selects a culture and attempts to mold the populacethrough the development of science, the expansion of land holdings, and the improvement of the quality of city lifeinto the most powerful civilization of all time. A few new features have been added, including a king builder that enables players to create a visual representation of their alter ego, and a map editor to allow the creation of personalized landscapes, but for the most part these changes are superficial and don't affect gameplay.
CivNet's multi-player link-up capability, which could have made the game more than just a nice enough Windows version of Civilization, is probably its weakest feature. Each of the two different modes of play has specific disadvantages. If players select the turn-based play option, they are dooming themselves to a purgatory of 10-minute waits as each player takes a turn and the game updates. Simultaneous movement speeds up the whole process a bit, but adds the non-Civilization chance of enemy units attacking you in the middle of your turn. In a game with more than two human players, neither of these options is really acceptable, and gameplay can be pretty frustrating.
As a single- or two-player version of Civilization, CivNet is a solid play, but pales beneath the glory of Civilization 2. If Microprose had really wanted to grab the gamers, they should have spent a few more months figuring out how to speed up gameplay, and then incorporated the finished multi-player system into Civ 2. As it is, this game is only recommended for groups of two who want to test their skills in head-to-head competition.