Civilization IV: Colonization

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Civilization IV: Colonization review
Sergio Brinkhuis


14 years of waiting over

14 Years of waiting

The original Sid Meier’s Colonization was something of a fluke. I’m not sure if Sid wasn’t interested in the concept, or that he just wanted to give creator Brian Reynolds a chance to see what he could do with the Civilization engine, but the fact remains that Sid was hardly involved in the creation of the game at all. Obviously Brian Reynold’s Colonization doesn’t have the same ring to it and adding Sid’s name to a title generally means it will sell a respectable number. Colonization was a success, though not as much as its big brother Civilization. Strangely enough, fans of the game had to wait 14 years for a sequel, or rather… a remake.

Much like the original, Civilization IV: Colonization is built on the latest version of the Civ engine and adds some new gameplay mechanics as well as some graphical tweaks. The name and the use of the Civ engine don’t mean that Colonization plays like just another Civ addon. Quite the contrary, it is a different beast entirely. Veteran Civ players will quickly understand how to navigate but will experience some confusion over what to do as well. Fortunately the game comes with an in-game tutorial that will help deal with this confusion in short order.


I mentioned that Civ IV: Colonization is a remake. This is in contrast to how Firaxis and 2K Games advertise the game. Their view is that the game is a ‘re-imagining’ of the original. In all honesty, neither is completely true. Civ IV: Colonization is more of a blend between its predecessor and Civilization. Popular Civ concepts such as culture and the most recent combat system have found their way into Civ IV: Colonization, making it a far more palpable experience to newcomers than a true remake would be. To me, a re-imagining would push the gameplay in a different direction however, which isn’t true.

Starting a new game the player is asked to select one nation out of four: Netherlands, England, Spain and France. Your selection influences the game in a certain area and you can further refine this by choosing a leader for your colonizing effort. Depending on your choices, you get benefits such as good relations with or a bonus fighting the natives, faster immigration and so on. The effects may seem subtle but changing your playing style to suit your nation and leader bonuses will most definitely have an impact. Opting for the English for example, you can adjust your playing style to either simply enjoy the basic bonus of fast immigration or build churches and man them with priests to really propel the speed of immigration to dizzying numbers. Sadly, most of these bonuses seem to lose their importance as the game progresses but a well played starting game is half the battle.


Landing your first two colonists on the new world, you are tasked to build a settlement and expand it while trying to interact with native Indians, the King at home who continuously increases tax rates, and other European nations attempting to grab the New World for themselves. Each settlement starts with low-level production facilities for certain goods and a Town Hall. After recruiting Lumberjacks, Carpenters, Blacksmiths and other craftsmen, you can build new buildings or enhance existing ones.

Once you get your production facilities up and running, you can start sending goods back to the Old World and trade them in for cash which in turn can be used to acquire ships or experts that will produce goods more efficiently than your basic colonists. Colonists can be trained to become experts at the local school, college or university. Some expert jobs such as Tobacco Planter can only be learned at native settlements. Unlike in the original, it is possible to train more than one expert at a particular settlement. If you ever needed a reason to stay at peace with the natives, then this is it.


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