In the pantheon of long-running game series, Sid Meier has attached his name to some of the greats. Of course, Civilization is the most well known and with good reason, but calling Civilization: Beyond Earth a true installment to that series would require you to ignore perhaps the greater influence on its development – the 1999 strategy game Alpha Centauri.
Civilization: Beyond Earth takes place in the 27th century, after the demise of humanity’s Earth-based ancestors, following the ravages of time, overpopulation and resource depletion which is taking their toll on the population.
The great empires of Earth each venture forth to a new world, intent on developing a new extension to their civilisation on alien soil.
From here the game takes a similar path to previous Civilization installments as the player tries to establish and expand new cities and research technology (this time handily expanded into the future and with a real tree which can be researched in many directions rather than the fairly linear progression of before).
The gameplay has changed little in function from Civilization V, which is fine. The careful balance of building, research and military adventure has been honed in although there are new elements, such as randomly spawning aliens in place of barbarians, and miasma which poisons ground and damages units.
Unfortunately though, while it’s all perfectly functional, there’s something lacking in satisfaction about the new tech tree and building progression. As the starting point is already future technology, it feels as though there’s far less progress being made with each scientific leap.
The advance from pottery to cruise missiles in prior Civilization games held a lot more satisfaction because it was a slow but steady progression from where we were in ancient times to where we are now. In it, the player is asked to develop from unknown technology into other unknown techology.
For science fiction fans looking to forge their own view of the future, Civilization: Beyond Earth offers the chance in some style.
You can become the master of your new world, or integrate entirely as a species. It’s most certainly a well-made game in its own right, but newcomers to the series may be better served playing the prior installments.
This article was originally posted at ForgeToday.