Civilization 2 is 25 years old - retro special for the anniversary

Civilization 2 is 25 years old - retro special for the anniversary
Civilization is inextricably linked with the name Sid Meier since the Canadian developed the first part of the legendary turn strategy series almost single-handedly 30 years ago. Only Bruce Shelley, who would later write game history himself with Age of Empires, was at his side as an idea generator and game tester. The result is a milestone in video game history that has had a lasting impact on a genre. To this day, Civilization in its current version embodies the reference in the round strategy. With each new version, the series is characterized by clever further development and fresh ideas. With the first successor after the successful debut, Publisher Microprose naturally wanted to go one step further and immediately put a whole young team on the development. Amazingly, however, not under the direction of Sid Meier. With Civ 2 he takes a back seat and mainly acts as a consultant and tester.

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Table of contents

1 Critical and commercial success 2 New coat of paint for the well-known 3 More in front of everything 4 Learning by playing

Critical and commercial success

Under the working title Civilization 2 (buy now) 000 should be for the successor especially suggestions from the fans of the first part are taken up and translated into better game features. For a long time, however, the world public did not notice it. Instead, the development took place in secret for several years. The game was only announced publicly after the final balancing and fine-tuning phase had already been reached. Almost five years after its predecessor, the game was released on February 29, 1996 in North America and a few weeks later in Europe. A year later a MacOS version followed and in 1999 even an implementation for the first Playstation from Sony.

The years of work should pay off. Civilization 2 was celebrated by the gaming press and given top ratings. In the PC games test, we praised the useful improvements, the increased beginner-friendliness and the ongoing excitement into the end game. With a fun game rating of 90 points, we even ranked at the lower end of the spectrum. On metacritic, Civilization 2 still has an average of 94 and is thus, together with Civ 4, the best-rated part of the series so far. Since its release, the game has appeared at the top of lists of the best video games of all time at regular intervals.

The positive echo in the trade press was also reflected in the success at the shop counter. In the United States, Civilization 2 became the fifth best-selling video game in 1996. Globally, by November of that year, more than 600,000 copies were sold. In August of the following year, the predecessor's sales mark of 850,000 units was cracked. The game remained a top seller for a long time and brought developers and publishers steady income in the years that followed. By 2001, when the successor appeared, all sales added up to an impressive 3 million copies. Civilization 2 in the retro special. (3) Source: PC Games

New coat of paint for the well-known

In terms of content, Civilization 2 basically did nothing more than build on its excellent predecessor and make everything a little more chic and extensive. While the later parts of the series always came up with a number of completely new ideas and features, the gameplay in the second part hardly differed from the first. Founding cities with settlers, producing buildings and units in them, in order to expand your own empire bit by bit. Opponents can be dealt with in a diplomatic and military manner. You can also win the game, for example, by gaining scientific supremacy and being the first nation to conquer space. This almost unchanged concept did not detract from the success and enthusiasm of players and critics. Sometimes it is enough to leave the recipe unchanged and only use fresh ingredients in larger quantities instead.

Civilization 2 in the retro special. (4) Source: PC Games For Civ 2, this is particularly noticeable in the superficial elements of the game. The representation of the map was changed from the total top view to the isometric view, which is standard in the series to this day. The SVGA graphics allowed the developers to display significantly more details in the landscapes of the world. The cities and units are also represented with chic, changing sprites and no longer as simple squares. The square shape is still the basis of the game world in its individual fields.

If you don't want to be satisfied with the randomly generated cards, you can create your own worlds in the easy-to-use editor. Thanks to drag & drop, this works almost as easily as in a painting program and quickly leads to great results. Only the distribution of resources is done randomly on the hand-designed cards at the start of the game.

More above all

In the systems behind the surface, the already known systems have been expanded with new content. For example, the technology tree has been greatly expanded. With new research options such as amphibious vehicles and naval combat tactics, the endgame in particular has been upgraded, making Civilization 2 a retro special. (6) Source: PC Games Players still have enough to do in advanced games. This of course also results in a lot of new buildings such as supermarkets and airfields, as well as new military units. Including parachutists, AEGIS cruisers and cruise missles.

The range of wonders of the world was also increased. With the Statue of Liberty and Leonardo's Workshop, powerful new bonuses can be unlocked. Of course, an increase in the number of playable races should not be missing. The 15 peoples of the predecessor are joined by seven new nations such as Spain, Japan and Persians.

The well-known game principle was given more variety at every nook and cranny, which led to an even greater replay value. The new scenarios also contributed to this. In these, apart from the usual random games, historical conflicts from the time of the Roman Empire or the Second World War could now also be re-enacted for the first time. For experienced strategists, for whom the predecessor was too easy, a new level of difficulty was now available with "Divine", which presented veterans with special challenges. Civilization 2 in the retro special. (2) Source: PC Games

Learning by playing

One of the biggest real innovations was the so-called civilopedia integrated into the game. If you had to look up laboriously in the manual when looking for information on a game element, a unit or a building, the corresponding texts were now available with just a few clicks. In it, the developers also provided historical background information on the respective object, with which interested players could also learn something about human history. A tradition that has continued throughout the entire Civ series.

Civilization 2 in the retro special. (7) Source: PC Games Civilization 2 could be accused of having refrained from experimenting with new game systems and that the game did not differ enough from its predecessor. But hardly anyone has pointed out this fact as really bad. On the contrary, by reflecting on the tried and tested mechanics, a game could emerge that some critics called one of the best balanced and playable games that had ever appeared. Without a doubt, it is still one of the best parts of the venerable series and its formative influence on the genre of strategy in general cannot be overestimated.

Extensions, as is common today, did not exist for Civ back then. After the release of Civilization 2, the developers had completely different problems. During this time, the owner of MicroProse carried out major restructuring - including the relocation of the company's headquarters from Maryland to California. Leading Civ developers like Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, Jeff Briggs and others left MicroProse and founded Firaxis. Since the rights to Civilization initially remained with the publisher, the team had to be content with "only" developing a spiritual successor. With Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, the makers at Firaxis were to succeed in an equally outstanding and celebrated work three years later. The same motto always applied here too: "Just one more round ...".

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