Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2001-11-19 Entry: "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire"

Well, I had this all planned, but Columbine beat me to the punch. She probably says this better, so go over there...

Anyway, I finally got around to installing Civ 3 on Sunday (yes, two whole days after receiving it...). I then proceeded to play for about five hours. And I've got a few problems with it.

Firstly, I have to say this is the nicest looking of the three (obviously), but graphics do not sell a game - at least not to me. So however nice and animated all these units are, I don't really care...

Secondly, it's slow. Now, this game has a really low minimum spec on it, which surprises me in this day of graphics cards with as much memory as a PC and hard disks measured in the tens of gigabytes. My machine is a bit above the minimum, but it's only a 500MHz processor, 64Mb ram, a middle of the road graphics card (ATI All-In-Wonder 128), and oodles of hard disk space. And this game is slow... not hugely slow I'll admit, but so far I can only see about a quarter of the world map, and that's only got two civs on it... and it's taking about 20 seconds of sitting around before I get to make another move... this is too slow guys...

Thirdly, the rules changes. Changing the unit support costs so they're nation based rather than city based is an eminently sensible change. Splitting up settlers and workers is so far really annoying... I want to build cities, and the thing won't let me as I need two points of population to build a settler... this is making expansion really slow. And the worker AI is stupid, so I'm probably going to have to change these back to being under my control once I've got a better handle on the game.

You see, the new trade rules mean that resources can only be shared around your cities if they're connected by roads, so what do the workers do first? Stay around their home city (which isn't really their home, based on the support change above) and make sure it has all the irrigation and mining it could possibly need. Then it might consider going to another city and doing the same thing. Now, call me stupid, but if roads are so important to your resources, then it doesn't matter how many mines you have, as you can't get the resources to the city that can actually build stuff.

The new diplomacy is a vast improvement over the Civ 2 diplomacy options, and I no longer have to mess around with diplomats and spies. Now, I'll admit that the units I never got to grips with in Civ 2 were diplomats, spies, and freight items. So diplomacy and trade were hard work. These are much better.

But, I'd hate to have to fight a war in the new game... keeping people happy is going to be a nightmare - I'm already having trouble and I'm playing the easy game (and I habitually build all the cultural / happiness generating items). And for a nation who are religious and scientific, I don't seem to be getting much science, and people aren't particularly religious - they've all got temples, and they're still bitching!

For some reason, all the nations now have two traits from a list of six or seven (lets see - expansionist, scientific, religious, commercial, militaristic, yada, yada, yada). Each of these gives a bonus of some sort. I've decided the scientific bonus (getting an extra advance when you move on an age in the tech tree) is rubbish, and so far not at all noticeable... and I can't even remember what the religious one is, so it can't be all that effective. Maybe I should play to my weaknesses - I don't trade or fight well, so pick a commercial, militaristic nation...

And as Columbine says, the fights are completely mismatched - my sole solitary warrior unit seems to be able to kill anything it faces. Give it a few years and it'll probably happily be taking on tanks and fighter jets!

Eventually I'll get to meet the bane of my life from Civ 2 (the Romans - back to the title finally), and probably find them not a patch on their previous stature... I'll give the game a bit longer, see if things improve (as I learn what it all does), but not a promising start.

So no, Sid, back to the drawing board with this one...

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