by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Back to the era of colonisation
If you are a fan of classic Sid Meier games, you have probably already heard that Firaxis is revisiting their classic title Colonization from 1995 and bringing it to modern audiences. For many years, fans of the game have been waiting for a remake or a sequel to the original and many mods for the Civilization III and IV have attempted to re-create Colonization more or less successfully. How fitting, then, that Civ IV: Colonization will be based on the Civ IV engine, although it will be a stand-alone title.
Given that Colonization always was a smaller-scale game than Civilization, the smaller Civilization IV perspective – where your empires are a lot smaller than they were in Civ II and Civ III – will undoubtedly be perfect for it. And, if you were wondering, the title of the game includes the Civ IV tag in order to attract Civilization IV players. As if it they needed such hints.
If you aren't old enough to remember...
For those unfamiliar with the original, the point of the original game was simple: take control of one of the European powers; Spain, England, France or Holland, and colonise a newly found continent. As you build cities, you can bring in more colonists, soldiers and indentured workers from the old continent and sell the products of the new continent back to the old world. As your cities and economy strengthen, you may expect new and hefty taxation laws from your mother nation until you simply must declare independence in order to assure the continued growth and well-being of your budding nation. Naturally, at this point, it is useful to have the backing of your population and military or you'll be in a heap of trouble.
Of course, your efforts to conquer the new world may be either helped along or hindered by the natives already living there. In the original, you could choose to try to live peacefully with the locals, or wipe them out as best you can in the historically correct manner. Also, colonies of the other European powers are trying to prosper on the same land as you are and sometimes skirmishes and wars are inevitable. However, some aspects of the real history, such as slavery, were omitted from the game, which was probably for the best.
What's new then?
Firaxis has promised that, in comparison to Civ IV, the new Civ IV: Colonization will feature an new interface that will make the city screens etc. a lot clearer to navigate and give the game a unique look. Similarly, you will have improved diplomacy options, which is a necessity, really, given that you have to play a diplomat with the relations between your colony and your mother nation, as well as the other the European powers.
Personally, my first expectation upon hearing about the return of Colonization was that Firaxis would make it more generic than the original was. However, the information that we received later showed that the European powers are still conquering a land inhabited by peoples whom we know as Native Americans, so the new land is definitely still a variation of the Americas, rather than being some other random piece of a continent. It remains to be seen, however, if there will be rum or whiskey in the game. I suspect that they will not be there, although the former of the two was very important economically in the rum triangle trade of the real history.
Although Civilization IV already looked pretty enough, Firaxis has promised that Civ IV: Colonization will look even better. Basically, Colonization will require a video card with Shader 1.1 support and while it will bring you prettier water, shadows, updated terrain and city buildings as well as hi-res graphics for all assets, some owners of weaker graphics cards may well be disappointed. Then again, these gamers probably already had problems playing Civilization IV itself so this should not come as a surprise.
The modding community has become more or less the backbone of the whole Civilization series and thus it is not a surprise that Civ IV: Colonization will attend to their most loyal fans. Although the modding capabilities in Civ IV are very expansive and allow you to pretty much change the whole game, you needed to feel enough dedication to actually learn a lot about scripting etc. to achieve all that was possible. However, Civ IV: Colonization will offer a built-in toolset for the modding community, which will, hopefully, make modding more approachable even to the casual gamers amongst us.
This will be a definite must have
There really is no avoiding buying Civ IV: Colonization when it comes out. For anyone who has ever enjoyed the Civilization series or the original Colonization, there is no real choice: this game will be a natural part of their game collection. And, as far as comes to the remaining two gamers in the world who haven't experienced the bliss of Civilization: they really should give this one a chance to turn them over.