playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

A.P.I Review: Civilization II
Developer: MicroProse OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Activision 1 Player
Game Type: Strategy Memory Card 10 Blocks
Review Date: January 1999 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

After a crushing day... be it at work or at school it's nice to come home,
kick back and run things for awhile... be the master of your own destiny... 
rule and control hundreds of thousands of people.  Civilization II
let's gamers escape into the fantasy world of global conquest, making all of
the decisions along the way and molding the way the earth is going to look
for thousands of years. 

You decide what kind of ruler you want to you want total control and
decision making?  How about letting the people have some say in things?  Do
you like to pillage and plunder the countryside or make pacts and share
technology with other tribes and cultures?  It's all up to you, and the
outcome of these decisions and many others will rest entirely in your hands.


Civilization II easily fits into the strategy genre with a nice economic
twist for flavoring.  This is one of the more "hardcore" strategy games
available for the Playstation at present and will demand a good chunk of
your time and commitment to play.


The graphics in the game are quite simple and mostly made up of various
icons for the cities, soldiers, etc.  This is just fine though as this is
primarily a turn based game that relies more on your wit and imagination
than eye candy.

Everything is broken into nicely detailed squares that depict various types
terra firma and water regions.  About the only animations that you are
likely to see will be during battles (very minimal animation) and the
occasions cut scenes when you complete some major construction such as a
Wonder of the World.

Don't let the rather mundane sounding graphics discourage you though, they
create the proper imagery while not detracting from the game in any way and
work out just fine...  

Sounds and Effects

You have a choice of four different types of melodies to accompany your
journey through time.  Each one is quite different from the other and sits
in the background perfectly so that you can concentrate on the game.  I
enjoyed the 2nd score the best as it featured nice rolling percussion and a
rather intricate arrangement.

Sounds effects are used only when requires such as during battles and when a
city accomplishes something significant.  Like the graphics, the sound
effects work out just fine for the flow of this game.


To begin with, Civilization II is not for the impatient.  Be prepared to
spend some time...make that a lot of time on this game to really get into
all of it's nuances and really appreciate its complexity.  

The game spans many years of time, beginning in 4000 BC and progressing
forward to the year 2020 AD in increments of 20 years per turn.  During each
turn you will be faced with a plethora of checks and balances that will
effect the world going into the next decade...but I am getting a bit ahead
of myself here.

The game starts out with several choices that you need to make before
attempting your shot at global dominance.

You first need to select the size of the world you want to "play" in.  You
have a choice of small, normal or large.  Smaller worlds are good for
beginners because you stand less of a chance on getting lost and the game
will run a bit shorter because you don't have to ultimately populate as much

Next up you'll get to pick the difficulty level.  You can choose from six
levels beginning with the rather lowly (easy) Chieftain up to the God like
state (dam friggin' hard) of a Deity.  Regardless of which one you choose,
you will still have a good challenging game in store for you.

Now how many rival civilizations do you want?  You can plop down anywhere
from 3 to 7.  The number of civs plays a part in how many confrontations you
will have with other tribes.  Confrontations can be good for trading goods,
technology secrets or for making alignments to crush other stronger foes.
On the flip side, if you enjoy sacking other towns and getting yourself a
"bad" reputation, meeting up with a super power could spell your ultimate

The numbers of Barbarians you want roaming around the land is your next
choice.  Barbarians are the pirates of the game and tend to form in nomadic
groups that pop up at all the worst times.  You can select from four options
that range from Village only, where you will only come upon Barbarians if
you stumble across a small village up to Raging Hordes where these bastards
are virtually in your face throughout most of the game.  Selecting the
easier modes will give players some penalty points, while choosing the more
difficult mode will yield bonus points.

The last few options before finally getting into the actual gameplay are to
select between a male or female leader and then to actually go in and choose
a tribe.  There are 21 tribes to select ranging from Americans to Romans,
Aztecs to the English, Vikings to Japanese.  Once you select your tribe you
are given that civilizations greatest leader.  Just for the record, I played
the full game as Genghis Khan ruler of the Mongolian Empire.  To wrap things
up you select the style of the buildings in your villages.  There are Bronze
Age, Far East and Medieval Castles motif's to choose from to name a few.

The reason I spent so much time outlining the start-up options for the game
is to give you a taste for the depth of this title...even before you begin
to run things.

You start things off as a lone settler roaming the countryside looking for a
suitable place to construct your Capital.  Each turn will take 20 years of
your life so don't look around too long trying to find a place to use your
shovel.  Once your Capital is up you can begin to get things moving.  As you
review your options, High Counsel members will chime in with recommendations
on what they believe would be the best thing to build for that city.  In the
beginning you only have about 10 or so things to choose from, such as
"building" more settlers, constructing barracks, instating some
defense/military units or performing city improvements such as adding
marketplaces and harbors.  As your tribe explores and learns things your
field of options opens up tremendously.  

Playing through Civilization II is like a finely tuned balancing act.
Explaining all of the intricacies of the game would take forever so I will
attempt to just identify as much high level stuff as possible of what to
expect during actual gameplay time.

One you build your capital you will want to make some more settlers to begin
your expansion and influence into other parts of the world.  This will also
ultimately lead to contact with other tribes where you will need to decide
how to approach them.  If you sign a treaty, you need to honor it for an
extended amount of time unless the other party breaks it.  If you decide to
break it, you will begin to get a bad rep across the world and other tribes
that you meet will not be so willing to trust you.  Of course, you could
always take my approach and build up a huge military contingent and go on a
rampage of death and destruction, leaving all other tribes in the dust.  As
you conquer a rivals city it becomes yours to manage and deal with.

Each city has a large number of people that continues to expand as the game
progresses.  Keeping all of the people satisfied requires a good deal of
work and attention on your part.  Raising taxes or refusing to build temples
or other places or worship...or marketplaces for trade, etc. will most
likely lead to a revolt and a bunch of unhappy campers.  Revolts have the
ability to change the style of government that you currently rule over and
occasionally plays an important role in getting things moving in a forward
direction again.  Of course each style of government has its own pros and
cons...but then again, virtually every decision you make in this can have
it's own advantages and drawbacks.  The amount variables and options
available to you is friggin' mind-boggling and could be intimidating at
first, but with perseverance you will begin to find your own groove and
settle into things quite me.

You may occasionally want to consult the High Counsel for advice.  The
Counsel members consist of a Defense Minister, Science, Trade, Foreign and
Domestic Advisors.  If for nothing else, they are always good for a laugh as
you watch them argue amongst themselves trying to push their advise through.
I generally found them useless most of the time, but they do have their
fingers on the pulse of the people...I just didn't much care, my agenda was
already set...crush, kill, destroy...hehehe.

As you progress you continue to learn about more and more technologies,
literature, math, construction methods, etc. ultimately culminating with the
discovery of nuclear physics (great for making bombs!) and finally the space
age where you can begin construction of space stations and such.   In
between you learn to construct ships, build Wonders of the World, light
houses, pretty much anything that your tribe has the capability to learn.   

Of course, your tribe has to survive long enough to see this take place and
that will take some serious effort of your part.  Bad things seem to happen
just when it looks as if you are in total control.  Of course many of these
things could probably have been avoided if you had made different decisions
earlier in the game.  Shit always seems to pop up and haunt you later.

Oh, you also always want to make sure that you have adequate defenses set up
around each city as Barbarians are almost constant problems and can sack and
take over your city in a single turn if you are not prepared.

Civilization II is truly a masterpiece of a game.  For me, it became so damn
addicting that all I could think about when I wasn't playing, was how to
devise strategies and the handle things for when I got the chance to pop it
back into the Playstation again.  The AI is brutally unforgiving if you
don't think ahead but equally rewarding when you make all the right moves.  

New comers to this style of game will also appreciate the Beginner's Mode
found exclusively on the Playstation version of this game.  In this mode you
get a bit of handholding and advice until you become comfortable with the
gameplay mechanics.  These is a nice touch and should attract those of you
that have always wanted to try a game of this sort but were always unsure of
how to get started.

Value for Money

Oh please, don't even get me started on the value aspect of this title.  If
you like this sort of game, the replay value is virtually endless.  The
sheer number of variables per game is enough to make you cream and each game
plays entirely different from the last.  Add to this all of the various
configuration options and you end up with a game that would easily provide a
lifetime of challenge should you choose to "hermitize" yourself.
GRAPHICS: 13/20 Civilization II is a brilliant game of economic strategy in which you get to control your own destiny as well as that of your people. There is a lot riding on your every move, so you best plan accordingly...a tricky balance is a quirky thing and much more likely to crumble than it is to stay afloat.

If you like strategy style games, there is nothing currently better on the Playstation than Civilization II. If you have always been curious about these types of game, there is a killer beginner's mode that will take you through the first steps in becoming a true world leader.
Get this game, it's awesome!
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 20/20


    GAMES        Get your PSX games HERE!