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/// Usenet Review:  Civilization AGA
    By Michael Robert Bromery


        Civilization AGA


        A strategy game based on the history of the world.


        Name:           Microprose
                        180 Lakefront Drive
                        Hunt Valley, MD  21030
        Telephone:      (410) 771-1151

        Name:           Kompart UK Ltd.
                        20 Guilford Road
                        St Albans, Herts
                        AL 1 5JY
        Telephone:      (0727) 868005
        Fax:            (0727) 845202


        I paid approximately $54.00 (US).


        An Amiga with the AGA graphics chipset.


        There is a manual lookup copy protection.  This is done once while
you play.


        Amiga 1200
        2 MB Chip RAM
        60 Meg hard drive
        2 floppy drives


        Civilization is game based on the history of the world.  You start
off as a leader of a small neanderthal, nomad tribe which is looking for a
place on this planet to start its first settlement.  From here, you try to
build an empire that can last through the ages.  You have scientists that
try to achieve new discoveries or new technology which you can then use.
Your decisions on what the Scientists can research make very large changes
between one possible future and another.  Not only that, but you have to
handle properly what ideas your tribe knows now.

        You start with only two types of people you can send out from your
town or towns.  You can send out Militia (cheap and fast to make, are pretty
weak fighters, but still are your only chance at defense at the beginning of
the game). You can also send out Settlers (these are pretty dynamic), which
can do one of several things.  The settlers can go out and

        1. Try to find a place to build yet another town.
        2. Irrigate plains so that they reap more food.
        3. Change plains to forest or vice versa.
        4. Build roads so that any unit (types of people or machines; we'll
           call them units from now on) can move 3 times as fast.

Roads, obviously, are best when built from town to town.

        The main 2 screens that you use the most are the Main Map screen and
the Town screen.  In the Main Map, you manipulate your units, look around
your known part of the world, and control main game functions.  In the Town
screen, you control aspects of the town and choose what the town builds
(it'll show you how many turns it will take to finish the project too). You
can also manipulate how the town farms, and how much food, water, fish, oil,
diamonds, gems, and ore that the town brings in.  Much food comes from ripe
and irrigated lands, especially if those lands have Game in them.  (Game
means animals that can be hunted for food.  Australian Aboriginals politely
go for game like certain deer to survive, for example.  I'd like to visit
them myself -- they seem like nice blokes.)  OK, back to the game.

        You do this, and manipulate troops for fortifications or scouting
around.  You usually will use troops to discover new parts of the world.  At
the beginning, you can only see a small square around your first group of
settlers (which you start with), but as you move around in the map, those
black unknown squares become known territory.  Beware, there are other
civilizations out there trying to do the same thing.  Gameplay changes (much
like Dune) as you discover more things, then makes a drastic change when you
meet other civilizations.

        When you meet other civilizations, things come to war, peace,
treaties, spies, Diplomats, stealing technology, encouraging other
civilization's cities to go under revolt, political chaos, restoring or
making new order, and more.  Messengers from one republic to another.  While
doing all that you did before and more.  Soon, you have a magnificent empire
(if you last that long) with all sorts of towns that you have to worry
about; and the way the game leads you in the comfortable learning curve, you
are surprised that you could probably remember specific things about all of
the 50+ towns that you have.

        Technology goes with learning the alphabet, establishing writing,
and building literacy which gives birth to messengers and diplomats.  There
are also the wheel, automotion, and mathematics... in which the first and the
third would allow the use of catapults, because your men need mathematics to
understand the true theory of projectile motion.  When you learn those, you
can have catapult units attack other towns and such, but are easily taken
out by decent ground troops. Some discoveries make others obsolete.  The game
goes on an on, getting more complex as it goes, even to the age of the space
race (if you lived that far, or any other civilizations lived that far while
you are there).

        Yes, for those of you who are into nuking people, they go as far as
nuclear weapons and a bit past them.

        Now the sound.  Well, who asked for sound in Civilization anyways?
Well, don't fret.  The music is as nice as it gets for this kind of game.
It's decent, but not earthshattering, but the music is very appropriate
during the beginning and introduction sequences.  You also have the main
theme of your tribe or civilization play when certain special events happen
to you.  Otherwise, no in-game music (which is nice, because in-game music
can be annoying with this kind of game, and the authors know it).  There is
sound in the game, as you hear a digitized sword clashing sound when two
units fight, or the sound of workmen and woodworkers when a new development
is built in a city for example.


        Well, the first difference is the title.  It's not just called
Civilization:  it is actually called Civilization AGA.  It seems they really
wanted to make note of the difference.  Technically, I can say this is
probably one of the best IBM ports ever made.  The 256 color screens often
show some nice graphics in which they were directly converted from the IBM
original and some look like they were touched up a bit.  To enjoy the
graphics truly, you need a real monitor.  Though, they look great on a
television, but they look very sharp and refined on the monitor.

        Now the speed.  It looks like they decided to not make the same
mistake they did with the first Amiga (old chip set) version of Civilization.
They decided to Amigatize the game to bring more enjoyable fulfillment of
this work. The graphics look good and the game doesn't run slowly at all,
even with my stock A1200 system.  Civilization AGA multitasks with the
operating system.  It runs on an Intuition screen which you can use your
AMIGA keys and M, N or the mouse to screen-flip, or drag down screens to use
other programs in the process.  Even with just 2 megs of memory, you can run
certain software while playing Civilization, so it is a boon and a plus for
the game.  Another great thing about the speed is, though you see the
Civilization screens normally animate things, you are not restricted:  it is
all done strictly in the Civilization AGA Intuition screen.  The speed at
which you can handle other things in the background makes Civilization AGA
seem that it is hardly using the CPU at all.

        The scrolling at the beginning isn't smooth, but it wasn't meant to
be that way.  This was coded that way so it would move slowly enough to match
the music that plays with it.  Even a pixel by pixel smooth scroll on the
Amiga would be too fast because you need a certain frames per second in
order to have a smooth scroll (still too fast).  It's just neat to move the
screen around while it does this.  Planet generation is pretty swift, when
you choose to start new game or choose to have your own custom-made planet.
You can even hit the spacebar or Enter keys so that it skips part of the
animated introduction when the planet generation is finished.  Even on a
stock A1200, you never have to go through the whole introduction to wait for
the planet to be constructed.


        The real explanation of the game takes up 70+ single-spaced
typewritten pages.  Sounds daunting, eh?  Well, when I first saw the IBM
original of this game, when someone was already up to developing the train,
concepts were going around in it that I couldn't comprehend.  But if you
play the game from start to finish, you seem to never lose your place.  It
has a great learning curve that guides you through history.  And as the game
and your civilization get more intelligent, so does the player.

        The game also includes a full Civilization Encyclopedia, which tells
you about all aspects of the game, aspects of the various technologies and
things people can learn, often with picture illustrations (some which look
quite nice with a gradient blue background) and comparisons to how this was
achieved or what significance this had in Real Life Earth History.


 ---- Dislikes ----

        This game is well done, but I have one small gripe.  The gripe is
the special effect of the fade between some screens. They do the smooth
color fade for transitions between the Main map and the Civilopedia, or
when you want the Bird's Eye view of the city. My gripe is that it is faster
to simply jump to the next screen than to do a smooth color fade (which is
probably faster on A1200s with Fast RAM or accelerated AGA machines; e.g.,
A4000 or 68030/040 accelerators).  I don't like to wait a second to flip
between screens, though it looks neat:  I would like the choice to do without
them.  When on the town screens and you click on a part of the screen that
doesn't do anything, it will redraw the screen. It redraws quick as a jump
jet, but the redrawing is unnecessary, especially since the Amiga mouse is a
sprite.  It is the smaller of my two gripes.

 ---- Likes ----

        Probably the best IBM conversion to date, and they even were nice
enough to improve over that original in Civilization AGA.  It adheres more to
the AmigaDOS standard except for the way you use the menus (in which the left
mouse button and the right mouse button have the same function). It's
comfortably fast for any AGA machine, and takes up just 1.1 megs of memory
for those who like multitasking.  And it is the best educational program for
the High School/College-level student while being one of the most addictive
games of the century. This game broke in a lot of gameplayers who, before,
didn't like strategy-style games.  Having this kind of stuff and animation in
a standard Intuition screen is neat as it is nice.  It'll have you playing
for ages and has randomly generated maps, and has gameplay that changes based
on your decisions in a tree-like structure. The more decisions you make, the
more branches are on the gameplay tree.


        I have found no bugs at all with the program itself. It seems to
clean up resources cleanly after exit. I've tested it with Hires/Lores Mice,
various Workbench screenmode setups, but haven't yet been able to screw up
the program. The only bug seems to be running it after some other Buggy
program that doesn't clean up its resources well.  The program may hit a
vector that the other program trashed, but made open for other program use.
I can't blame Civ AGA for that though.  I have managed to run something that
must've cause Civilization's graphics to get a bit garbled, but you can tell
it straight from the beginning.  If the title of Civilization looks OK at the
beginning, the rest of the graphics will too.  You may need to do an 'avail
flush' command or flush the libs in the debug menu when your Workbench is
invoked with "loadwb -debug".  That is, if you use buggy programs.


        If you have an AGA machine, and don't have Civilization AGA, I'd
suggest you go for it.

        Well, that's my review.  Happy Civilizing. :)

  ->Other questions regarded to.
    Mike Bromery. -President of UMAUG(The University of Maryland
                                      Amiga Users Group.)