07 September 2006

The complexities of Alpha Centauri

This old game proved to be fun, much more than Galactic Civilisation 2.

[Mindworms]
Indigenous lifeforms that lives in the xenofungus. They don't play by the normal rules of strong weapons vs. strong armour. They feed on your fear before boring holes into your body. Whoever has the stronger mind wins.
I had scoffed at them as inferior when I played this game years back. Mindworms cannot be upgraded with advanced weaponary and abilities. Advances in Psi defences also protect you against them so there is little to be feared. What I found was that if you mass cultivate them and swarm the enemy, it is unstoppable. They strike past walls like they weren't there. They move fast. They heal fast. Technological benefits to your Psi abilities assist your worms as well. They are a true terror.

[AI]
Impressive for a game so old. When I was discovering the joy of breeding demonic boils of mindworms, my opponent took to a Scorched Earth policy and began destroying farms. Later, he retaliated by launching Fusion Planet Busters at my largest cities. Two of them became craters as my space defence was inadequate.

[Physics]
Mountains trap moisture on the windward side and dry the lee side. Terrain can be raised or lowered. Sea levels can be manipulated to drown cities or strand sea colonies on dry land. Forests bloom and xenofungus spreads. Erosion forces constantly shape the coasts. All this gives it a living planet feel. Unfortunately, I was too busy managing my worms to notice these.

[Learning Curve]
Steep. As with all Civilisation games. AI opponents tend to push you around. Refusing to help Miriam take out Santiago will earn you her wrath. Further refusing to help Santiago will land you at war with both factions. "No fair!", I had cried.

[Balance]
As mentioned, no matter what government, environmental, economical or political stance you choose, someone will be unhappy with you. The game will never be boring.

[Conclusion]
I think I'll buy the original version next time I stop by Heartland Mall.

-2H0U

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