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Flashback: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri24. June 2016 15:03 by F. Nikolai WilbornSid Meier's Alpha Centauri delivered a lot of fun when it came out in the late 90s.Play Sid Meier takes in often seems to turn into gold. He had a series of successful imitator behind in the eighties when he changed focus and made the classic Pirates! in 1987, a game in which ravaged Caribbean that - just - a pirate. In 1991 came the classic Civilization, where you were set to create a civilization could "pass the test of" to translate the slogan of the time. The game was a huge success, and in 1996 came the sequel, Civilization II, which was made with Colonization veteran Brian Reynolds as chief designer.The start of FiraxisThe old CDs with the game and the expansion is still in the collection. I use dog GOG.com his version nowadays.That same year left Sid Meier multi Microprose - the company Meier in his time had been co-founded, and which had the rights to the Civilization name. Emergence Erne founded the company Firaxis, as the observant reader knows creating new chapters in Civilization series today. But in 1996 had not Firaxis acquired these rights, and had to look around for other opportunities.Having first released Sid Meier's Gettysburg, a real time strategy game set in the American Civil War, turned Meier and company to Civilization again. They could not make a new Civilization in name but game mechanics, there is no copyright on. In Civilization series is one of the possible ways to win the game, to be the first to send a manned space rocket to the solar system Alpha Centauri. This end was the foundation for the next game from the company, and chief designer was, as in the case Civilization II, Brian Reynolds.In the new game was player manager for one of up to seven factions upon arrival into the solar system Alpha Centauri. The aim was to give humanity a fresh start in the habitable planet Chiron - the game mainly called simply "Planet". As shown in the intro sequence below, start colonization of Alpha Centauri as a result of the crisis and a major opportunity for final destruction on Earth. UN throws colonists, but the road goes wrong and the survivors split into several groups with different agendas and philosophies.
If you do not know the strategy genre 4X, like Alpha Centauri belongs, the concept is as follows: You start with a single base, and must explore the area around you (Explorer), expand your territory (Expander), take advantage of opportunities that present themselves (Exploit) and eradicate the resistance (exterminate). Hence the four Xene. You will consequently make both kriging and research, as well as colonization and diplomacy.A game with atomosfærePity the hitting this chick.The various personalities who heads factions on Chiron is superbly made. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (the fans generally use the acronym SMAC) oozes quality in history dissemination. The leaders are very different and fail in a way that few games - especially almost 20 years old game - to convey an atmosphere and an involvement of the player in the game's universe. You really hate sister Miriam - the Christian-fundamentalist, arrogant and aggressive leader of the religious faction - when you play against her. The capitalist Morgan is inconsiderate towards nature and pursue profit above all else, and if you do not share his values in the way you play, he arrogantly tell you how pathetic you are. Brother Lal, who heads the faction that seeks to unite Chiron under the original UN mandate may seem naive and trustworthy, but you should not get on his bad side. And so it goes. The AI in the game is not always top notch, but because of the good story makes you often do not.But where history really shines, the events that take place during the game. You are not be alone on Chiron. The planet inhabited by a type of flora and fauna that are deeply interdependent. Mushrooms and moss is fatal to humans, and large worms and worms can take over the brains of humans and destroy it if you do not protect themselves. Along the way, events such as first contact and the effects of technological progress and interaction with nature cause pop-up windows with information about the planet mankind has taken over. Eventually one realizes that the planet itself is alive, and try to make contact. Gradually fed the player with information, and you realize that you move toward it that will either mean the end of life on Chiron as it is now - or humanity step into a new step in evolution ladder, where human and planet consciousness merges into one large, higher consciousness.When certain events happen, like here when the first match against the local enemy fauna has taken place, the game's rich history of sight.Alternatively one could win by hijacking control of the world economy, gather all under one joint leader, or good old-fashioned world conquest. Personally I went mostly for the story-driven victory by reaching a higher level of consciousness, not least because of the well-written story (which was never old), but also because I am a so-called "builder" who enjoy puzzle for myself and build Empire mine with the least possible war.Innovations and choicesOne of the many improvements Alpha Centauri came with in relation to "predecessor" Civilization II, were boundaries around your civilization. As your towns grew, and pressure on neighbors - or were pushed himself - went limits dynamic and forth. This gave a stronger sense of control a sovereign kingdom, not just a series of isolated towns. In later Civilization games would be developed further into a rich system based around culture, but in Alpha Centauri was only in a rudimentary form, which nevertheless was a major step forward for the genre.Another improvement over previous games in the Civilization series, was the far more detailed presentation of the nation's form of government. In the preceding Civilization games could the player explore government forms such as democracy, monarchy and republic, but in Alpha Centauri was government forms divided into several sections which could be selected independently. Political could many during the game unlock democracy, police and fundamentalism (guess what our friend Sister Miriam preferred), while economic standing choice between free markets (which capitalist Morning liked best), planned economy and green economy. Yes, for a game from 1999 is quite present needs, one might say!About neighbor liked you enough, he might like to offer technology-commerce.Choices stopped still not there. All factions could choose from three different approaches to the world - philosophies if you want. One could choose between power, money and knowledge, and all these gave obviously different advantages and disadvantages for society. Late in the game could also adapt government shape of future society, and choose from a cybernetic society, a welfare society or good old-fashioned mind control in 1984 style. What you as a player selected in these four sections gave you not only a unique form of government, with features that gave the pros and cons you could customize playing style and game situation, but also bonuses and Malus in relations with the other factions on the planet. If you chose the wrong form of government in relation to the neighbor's ideals, it could well be they knocked on the door with a peacekeeping force or two. Optionally could your choices lead to neighbor applauded you and invited the Alliance and other cooperation.diplomatic facilitiesDiplomacy in Alpha Centauri was also something special. Never before or since in a 4X games have I felt so engaged in negotiations with the data opponents. They oozed life and personality in a way no other games of this kind had - before or since. You hated to attend the Sister Miriam, you froze on the back of cynicism and cold heat to Chairman Yang and you enjoyed the small naive setting to Brother Lal (not to mention the knowledge that he almost always was weak militarily and so not a major threat) . Opportunities in diplomacy were numerous.First meeting with another faction leader.One could sell map data and exchange technologies and into various forms of alliances. If one were financially crippled, one could borrow money from the other factions at an annual repayment, with interest, of course. Or if one were contrary owner of a full money sack, one could loaning money the same way. This gave bonuses to the neighbor, but it was never a good idea to lend money to a faction who were going to be conquered, so it was important to follow the geopolitical situation.When all factions were met, there was obtained access to some kind of UN. Where one could vote on various resolutions, and these could have far-reaching consequences. Would you melt the poles and thus raising sea levels and changing climate? You could - if you won a majority in the UN. Number of votes each faction had depended on its relative strength in the world, so you have to be either very strong or have strong friends to get this through. The resolution did not receive majority were still not lost; Some managers could well lubricated with a donation, and thus voice so you would. This was however fast costly, so it was not something you did every day. Some factions were also so ideologically engaged in a case that it did not help whatever you offered.The choices one can make before the start of a new campaign. Notice the option to turn the blind exploration.Technology system in the Alpha Centauri were at one point quite different from what one knew of Civilization series. In Civilization, the player chooses which technology will be explored next time. This could be done if one wanted it to Alpha Centauri too, if you chose it in the settings, but the standard was that exploration was not under the direct influence from the player's side. Man chose one or more areas of focus, out of four available, and then there was obtained a partial random technology after a few rounds of play. How many rounds depended on various factors, the polity was the most important.When a new technology was explored, did you hear and the ability to read a quote, which was also spoken by a voice actor. The quotes were often associated one of the leaders of the various factions, and consequently fictitious, but there were also historical quotes. This is, as players of later Civilization games know, a feature that has been maintained in later Civilization games. There was also up information about what benefits technology gave, as new forms of governance, which technologies it led to, and build parts for the game's military and civilian units.Device Builder and superweaponOne of the game's many technologies , this introduces including nerve gas to warfare purposes.Device Builder also represented a major change from previous and later games Sid Meier 4X series. While many other 4X games have opportunities to create their own devices and adapt them so they will have none of Sid Meier's Civilization games had this feature. This had, however, Alpha Centauri. And there was one, among the fans, cherished function. Therefore, it is quite strange that it has not been seen since the Firaxis its 4X games. In unit builder could customize all of the game devices in great detail. The more one unit received foisted on, the more it cost to build, but if you wanted a terraformer device with weapons and offensive opportunities (hint: it's not something you really want to), so could you design it. Personally I let the computer take care of this part of the game, but many fans were thus very happy to function.Device builder in all its glory.The devices you built was at first quite well known; land units, either infantry or tank-like vehicles, ships and later flight. But you could also eventually tame the local fauna at Chiron, and take advantage of their psychological terror features. There were also among this fauna three types of units; land-based clusters of worms, sea-based clusters of ground and air-based ones. The latest, called "Locusts of Chiron," was very powerful and I conquered the entire planet easy as just that with only a few units of these.But the most powerful device of them all, was the nuclear weapons to be able to access. "Planetbusters" had enormous effects on the planet. Not only razed the entire cities to the ground, but it evened also the terrain of the game, with the ability to create deep sea where the mountains stood before. Unlike Civilization games both before and after had Alpha Centauri namely height differences in the terrain and not mountains and hills that separate terrain types. This terrain could thrown in raised and lowered by means of terraforming. And global warming or cooling could add countries and entire towns under water (and when they stopped to exist) or add sea mustache (whereupon seaborne cities were onshore). These weapons were thus enormously powerful, but they were costly to use. You were guaranteed to end up at war with all other factions after a short time, so you should be ready to resist and conquer the entire planet if you chose to use these weapons. Moreover, you risked if not looked after, losing valuable own cities to global warming.Random events and achievementsI wonder what this thing can give information?Alpha Centauri had also random events. Occasionally got such Alpha Centauri (the star) sunspots, and it might be unable to communicate with other factions because of the atmospheric disturbances that they created. Satellites would also fall and be destroyed, while energy production, which accounted for the economy, rose noticeably. When you explored the planet did you often parts of the destroyed colony ship you arrived Chiron on, and these could provide various rewards or problems. Occasionally uncovered opening of such wreckage dangerous fauna attacks, but you could also find terraforming equipment improved lands around sharply. If you were really lucky, you found an alien object, and if you managed to get this to a city with proper infrastructure, could connect it up and give valuable technologies.Look how clever I am, Dad,In our modern Steam- and console-days are trophies and achievements usual, but at the end of the 90s, this was far less cost. Alpha Centauri was in fact a sort of achievement system, but it was attached to each campaign and not all re-airings as a whole. Every time a major event took place, such as the first technological breakthroughs on the planet, or the first conquest by a hostile city, you got a picture as shown above right. Also if it was only the first time for you, and not for factions as a whole, did you know, but with information about who was first in parentheses. This was a neat little feature that gave a sense of doing great things for humanity on the new planet.ConclusionIt's been just under 20 years, but Alpha Centauri adhere very well. I play it still once or twice a year. When I fired up the game in connection with this article, I was simply sitting. The famous "one game" as Sid Meier game is so famous for, is definitely true! It is really a pity that no game has got a proper sequel. Unfortunately rights shared between several companies, so there is little opportunity for it at present. Firaxis tried his hand at a similar konspet with Civilization: Beyond Earth, but this game did not reach up to the knees to Alpha Centauri. Beyond Earth lacked everything that made Alpha Centauri to something special and appeared unfortunately soulless in comparison.I advise all supporters of 4X strategy to try out the Alpha Centauri, if you have not played it before. And if you have played it, you revisited also strerkt recommended. The game can be purchased along with the expansion Alien Crossfire at GOG.com for 5.99 US dollars, slightly less than one fifty patch with the current exchange rate. You will not regret.Picture Use: All photos are taken in person from GOG edition of the game, or are taken from GOG.com's product page for the game, except for the image of the CDs, which are taken with cameras from its own collection.
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