Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Sid Meier is a genius of strategic computer game design, having created the legendary and award winning Civilization game series. The next logical step was to transport the game into the vastness and unknown of space, after all when you have conquered the globe the next step is Galactic domination. The team behind Alpha Centauri succeeded in making a game worthy of the Civilization name.
Alpha Centauri was highly anticipated by the PC gamer's and reviewers, and the feedback was generally very positive. For a game released over a decade ago, it's addictiveness and game-play compare very favourable with games which have just been recently released. The game was released in 1999 by Firaxis game studio's of California, and the game was a major success. It spawned a sequel called Alpha Centauri: Alien Crossfire, but it was the original Alpha Centauri which captivated a generation of would be space colonists.
Sid Meier Games
Alpha Centauri is set at the beginning of the 22nd Century, and follows on from the space-race victory scenario at the end of Civilization II. The main story line of the game is that the United Nation's has sent a colonization team on mission to the planet Chiron in the Alpha Centauri system. Advanced aliens had previously conducted an experiment in planetary-level sentience on Chiron , leaving behind monoliths and artifacts. As the Unity Colony craft approaches the planet, a reactor malfunction wakes the crew and the colonists on the ship. In the drama and panic of the situation, the captain is assassinated by an unknown assailant. This leads to the most powerful leaders on board, creating their own factions and they and their followers escape the craft in escape pods. As the ship breaks up, seven escape pods, each containing a faction, are scattered across the planet Chiron .
Depending on what Faction you chose to start off with, you will start of with a Colony pod so you can found new bases and a scout unit to explore your local area. You start off with no idea of how close your rival factions are from you, and you face the native Mind Worms who will attack you to remove your presence on Chiron. If you chose to be the Environmental Faction, you have a good chance of using the Mind Worms to your own devious designs.
There is also the chance of random planetary disturbances and positive events, there is a chance an Earthquake could destroy your location within a couple of turns. If you investigate an alien monolith you may gain vital technology giving your faction a strategic advantage. Sometimes you will notice that the computer controlled factions have a tendency of destroying a less militaristic faction within a few turns. ( For example if the Spartan Faction territory is right next to the Academic Faction, The Academic's have no real fight early on in the game).
Alpha Centauri Factions
The Human Hive
Whenever i play the game i have a tendency to chose either the Spartan or the Gaian faction, both factions can be used to dominate the rival players. The Spartan's had greater mobility from the start and the Gaian's had the ability to use the native mind worms to their advantage. This also helps in defending your bases from the other mind worms in psi combat.
The game allowed you a fair degree of diplomacy, but diplomacy in this kind of game is a limited exercise. The way i approached playing the game was to consolidate my capital base, then spread out in all directions and try and avoid a war on multiple fronts. The ability to terra-form which you can research, is possibly one of the game's most effective weapons. You are able to turn your rival's lush and fertile lands to dry husks. Also if you have the ability to travel by sea and have the terra-form technology, you can condemn a base to a watery end.
Cut screen from game
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Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is a game you can still become addicted to, the passage of time has done nothing to diminish the effect of the absorbing game-play. As there are many different ways to play the game and many opposing ideological rules to play by, the longevity of the game is immense. You find yourself wondering if you could beat the score you just achieved with the Spartan's, or if you were more diplomatic could you have become supreme governer without the need for warfare. Like a game of galactic chess, you find yourself thinking long-term with your tactics.
The game intelligence is excellent and follows the ideological world view of the factions very closely. The U.N Faction will be overly diplomatic and you can usually meet an accord with them, so long as your actions do not effect their own. There is immense satisfaction in destroying an enemy that has been heavy handed in their attitude to you, and i take great pride in capturing their Capital base and watching my rival desperately try re-take their former capital. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri did not sell as many units as it Civilization "Big Brother" but i have enjoyed this game, and recommend others to try it out.