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Civilization: Beyond Earth Review

It’s been 23 years since the release of Sid Meier’s Civilization for DOS, that makes it nearly as old as me and now we’re on to the 8th title in the series. Firaxis continues the formula of ‘If it ain’t broke..’ but adds a few new ideas along the way. Is Civilization: Beyond Earth more than just an expensive expansion to previous titles or does it have what it takes to set it’s self apart in the series?

The new addition to the Sid Meier’s Civilisation series looks suspiciously like the last. A quick glance at screenshots and you’d be forgiven in thinking they were actually the same. But they’re not. Four years after the release of Civilisation V comes a brand new title from the team at Firaxis. Civilisation: Beyond Earth takes the series in a galactic new direction, throwing Earth out of the picture and having Humanity colonise strange and alien planets in an attempt to further the existence of the human race.

Civilization: Beyond Earth starts with a fairly complex situation; the end of civilisation on earth as we know it. After events lead to the devastation of Earth, you’re tasked with colonising other planets in an attempt to find a new home. Even before you’ve started, the game has you making important choices that will chance the path you take as you play. You’ll need to pick your sponsor (similar to World Leaders in past titles), choose your playing bonuses and then find a planet to pop down to.

Affinity is your over arching gameplay style and end-game, you’ll have one of three choices: Purity, Harmony and Supremacy and these dictate the way you play through our game. They all represent the differing philosophies of colonialism, the Purity play style rejects the ways of the alien world and sticks to human purities, Harmony allows players to adapt and play nice to the new species they encounter and Supremacy lets players take their new planet for themselves as they see fit with the technology they possess.

The old, linear tech tree from past titles has been replaced with something more like a spiders web, with a intricate and expansive web of choices encouraging players to try new choices in an attempt to better their new galactic civilisation. Initially, the host of new choices can be pretty daunting, especially to new players over their first few games. But the new sense of flexibility to choose your path as you will as both rewarding and quite liberating.

Thankfully, it feels pretty familiar to past Civilization players and rightfully so. Firaxis manages to strike an impressive balance between making sure this isn’t just another Civ expansion, but also not littering it with new stuff that would alienate the loyal fan-base.

There’s a new ‘Quest’ system added to Beyond Earth, as you play, quests will be thrown at you and wether you wish to partake in them is completely up to you, but completing them brings with it different rewards and bonuses. For example, quests are generally quite simple - ‘Research that’ or ‘Build this’. It’s definitely a new system that will help keep players engaged and focused during the long, enduring games of Civilization that many have come to know and love.

Perhaps the weakest feature of the game, as with most Civilization games to date, is the AI. It seems to get a little confused at times, bordering on erratic. Diplomacy is just something the AI can’t seem to grasp, still seeming to choose warmongering over most other tactics. Smaller nations with smaller armies and vastly inferior technology still seem to refuse peace treaties, even after you’ve obliterated half of their nation. Or manage to leave alien nests (think Barbarians from past outings) right next to their settlements without any sort of action to remove the threat. Oh, and once again it seems that the AI’s strength is in fighting.... me. Only me. I’m not sure I noticed the computer actually attempting to wipe out any other computer controls civilisation.

Here’s the thing. If you’ve loved Civilization games in the past, the chances are you’ll feel right at home with Beyond Earth and you probably already knew that. If you’ve never played a Civ game and are looking for a way to jump in, while initially quite daunting, Beyond Earth is an excellent place to start. It’s an ambition title with fun and some nifty new ideas that keeps the franchise fresh.

Is it a significant step forward for the series? Probably not, but it’s certainly a notable one that will bring in new players and has them addicted within minutes.

Words by Colin Gallacher
Twitter: @ColinCGallagher

(Version Tested: PC)


+! New tech web
+ New Civ game!


- Poor AI
- Can be confusing for new players!

Edited On 31 Oct, 2014

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