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Civilization: Call to Power
reviewed by Donald Melanson

Call to Power, the latest in the legendary Civilization series was without question one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year, and it still remains near the top of the sales chart. Yet most reviews of the game so far have been mixed, some outright panning it, others praising it as superior to Alpha Centauri (more on that later), with the rest in the middle of the road. I have only played the demo of Alpha Centauri so I will not be offering any comparisons as to which is the better game, but I will say that fans of the previous Civ games will, for the most part, be pleased with CTP.

For those of you unfamiliar with the whole Call to Power/Alpha Centauri story here's a brief summary. The mind behind the previous Civilization games was Sid Meier, who also created a number of other memorable games including Pirates and Railroad Tycoon. He eventually left to form his own company, Firaxis, and created Alpha Centurai. And the inevitable debate started as to which is the true Civ sequel, the one with the Civilization name or the one with Sid's name. However, it has just recently been announced that Hasbro Interactive will team up with Firaxis to create none other than "Sid Meier's Civilization III".

There's you're history lesson for the day, on with the review.

Call to PowerGraphics and sound have obviously been improved significantly since Civ 2 (1996). The music is especially deserving of mention, incorporating a wide range of world music that is perfectly suited for a game of this type. My only complaint here is that there isn't more of it, only about 30 minutes so you're likely to hear a fair bit of repetition.

Graphics are crisp and clean (especially at the higher resolutions) but they won't knock your socks off. Although the many movies spread throughout the game are very nicely done. But graphics are never the focus of a Civilization game (or any strategy game for that matter), it's the gameplay that counts. And it's here where Call to Power has drawn the most criticism.

One feature that is inexplicably missing is autosave. This was a small but excellent feature of previous Civ games, and lent itself particularly well to the games, but it now takes a number of mouse clicks to save a game. Something you're likely be doing often during each game session. (note: an update has been released which includes the autosave feature, get it here.)

If you haven't played a Civilization game before this probably isn't the best place to start. Although it has a training mode, it doesn't ease players into the game as well as others in the series. It also comes with a comprehensive manual that even experienced Civ players will want to read through.

Despite these small faults gamers looking for a complex and substantial strategy game will find a lot to like in Civilization: Call to Power. I also can't finish without mentioning the Linux port of Call to Power, while I haven't played it it's nice to see a high-profile game released. Let's hope more publishers follow this lead.

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Donald Melanson is the editor of Mindjack Magazine and is constantly learning on the job

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