Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization - 15/20 hours

The sci-fi mod got off to a slow start. It introduced a research and technology system, and then gated certain critical pieces of infrastructure behind undiscovered techs. As a result, I did not have access to internal trade routes for the first two hours of the game (this was especially frustrating because the resources necessary to create a convoy were spread out amongst my interior cities). However, once that pacing issue was out of the way, it was pretty fun. Ironically, despite the fact that I don't have the same moral qualms about conflict with aliens as I do with Native Americans, I've not had any problem coexisting with them. I may go back to standard Colonization and apply what I've learned.

I'm not sure I have much of a handle on the backstory of this sci-fi universe. Earth is short on resources and are settling a new planet (or planets, if I weren't playing a tiny map - the standard-sized map was super slow, even on my new computer) in order to ship back valuable minerals and exotic alien goods. It's likely that I'll rebel against them, eventually, due to their ever-escalating taxes and imperious demands, but I'm finding that I'm not really a rebel at heart. I just want to build something stable, and I think that if the government back home just picked a tax rate and stuck to it, even if it were onerous, I'd be able to tolerate it indefinitely. As it is, it's the arbitrary and unpredictable raises I object to, more than any particular loss of revenue.

It's a weird quirk of the game that it forces you to play out this one particular narrative. Strategy games aren't usually so linear. I can't say I object, per se. The mean old aristocrats who oppress the plucky and adventurous settlers beyond the point of tolerance until they rebel and throw off the shackles of the old world is a pretty compelling story, so it's entertaining. I just wonder if having the option to tell other stories - such as the colony that is so efficient, innovative, and prosperous that it becomes the nation's new center of culture and politics - might make the game even better.

Still, divorced of its troubling historical context, Colonization is a really solid game. I've reached the point in the game where my economy has reached the tipping point and my growth is faster than my ability to utilize that growth, which is always my favorite part of a 4X. My investments are paying off and I'll soon be an industrial and technological powerhouse. It's a shame to know that those Earth bastards are gearing up to try and take it all away. Hopefully the inevitable war will be a quick and decisive victory.

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