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Civ: Call to PowerCivilization: Call to Power

"Meier'd" in global conflict?

Hot on the heels of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, which took the Civilization franchise into space, comes "Civilization: Call to Power," a fairly standard update of the original concept for this classic game.

This title makes no mention of Sid Meier, but you can see the Meier fingerprints all over this new version. Civ:CTP ups the graphics ante and adds some new features and other gameplay improvements, while also throwing in a couple of minor annoyances just to ensure we don't experience game perfection.

Call to Power's graphics are comparable to those in Civization II, which means they're colorful and detailed - andindividual units can easily distinguished from each other - for the most part. Generally, the animation is good, the maps look good, and the sound effects are also up to snuff.

Call to Power gives you many more choices of civilizations from which to choose - even those warmongering Canadians are included! Gameplay is generally consistent with earlier versions, in that you begin with a settler unit and use it to found your first city. From there, the sky's the limit - depending upon what the rules of other civilizations have in mind, of course.

Along the way, you make advances in your civilization and build Wonders of the World. The end goal is to rule the world, at the expense of the other civilizations, while achieving the highest civilization score possible.

Civ: Call to PowerLater in the game, assuming you make it that far, you can start construction on the ocean floor or in earth orbit.

Add to the diplomacy feature of earlier "Civilizations" a lawyer figure - and all the good and bad that foreshadows; the trade feature has been enhanced quite a bit, too: you can set up trade routes from city to city and an animated line showcases the route on the map.

Combat between forces reminds one of "Conquest of the New World," in which a separate window opens up and the battle is played out there. This way you can actually see all the different units involved in the conflict, and know which unit is offing which.

A nice feature that's new to this version is the ability to group units into more effective fighting forces. This means that, instead of attacking with one unit at a time as in earlier versions, you can attack with all the units that are occupying a particular square. Up to nine units can defend and attack simultaneously, which makes the combat of Civ:CTP much more satisfying.

Civ:CTP's interface is pretty straightforward. Clicking on a unit selects it, and then you can choose from various options offered in the bottom window, including build, fortify, etc. We had some difficulty with the interface which, if you're not careful, will send unit heading off to parts unwanted. While the idea behind the control is good - the highlighted unit is attached to your cursor and wherever you click the mouse is where the unit heads - we found that we would rather have the game wait until you clicked on a unit instead of having the highlight appear automatically, sometimes when you're on a far away part of the board (which causes the distant unit to begin heading to your part of the board, even if you've already assigned it to a particular mission).

On the whole, however, Civilization: Call to Power is pretty good. It doesn't really break any new gaming ground, but it offers a new opportunity to play one of the best computer games ever designed.


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January 31, 2006