Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (Firaxis Games, 1999)

At first, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri seems to be little more than a warmed-over version of Civilization II with better graphics. Alpha Centauri is, however, much more than that. While the engine is basically the same as its predecessor, and much of the gameplay is the same, there have been numerous improvements to the way the game works. Interaction with other leaders is now much more varied and realistic. A world governmental body can vote to decide on matters of importance, and event elect a planetary governor. There are several ways to win the game besides world conquest by weapons and technological superiority. Production and terraforming can be automated. Units' statistics can be changed or altered as they are being created. Perhaps most startling of all, there is also a strong dramatic through-line connecting many of the events and technological advances of the game together. Though ostensibly a sequel to Civilization II, and definitely a must-play game by fans of Sid Meier's previous work, even those with little or no prior exposure will find lots to like about Alpha Centauri.

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