For all those closet megalomaniacs out there, there are few games more appealing (or addictive) than Civilization 3. Released in November of 2001, this game has aged remarkably well: its still widely available for online download, and can even be purchased new, for only 5 dollars, at stores like 5 below. The long-standing success of this game can be attributed to its almost unlimited replayability, intellectually stimulating game play, and highly addictive nature.
Unlike most videogames, which are concentrated around one rigid plotline and tend to be played through only once before being cast aside, Civilization 3 is structured with the intention of being played many times over. If the options of starting with any of the 16 different civilizations, selecting varying map sizes, or choosing from literally dozens of custom made challenges isn’t enough to keep a player occupied for months, there is always the option of creating your own map, which offers virtually limitless variation in game play.
The 16 civilizations vary in more than just name-only. They all have unique attributes: some specialize in science, and gain technologies more rapidly, others specialize in military expansion, and produce troops with fewer resources. Players are thus challenged to vary their strategies based upon the innate advantages and deficits of their respective civilization.
The ability to choose the climate, size, and geological age of your starting map also provides endless novelty. Climate affects the relative prevalence of, say grassland, desert, or mountain squares, all of which have the capacity to carry different resources. And geological age dictates whether or not you’ll be building your civilization in a mountainous, younger world (in which resources are distributed unevenly), or a worn down, older world, (in which resources are equally distributed amongst the civilizations). These options largely dictate how your world history will unfold- will a mountainous, temperate world of forests and grasslands have to duke it out over a small desert island rich in supplies of scarce oil reserves? Or will an ageing, arid world, struggle for moist, arable land?
If the thought of slowly developing an ancient, tribal civilization into a technologically advanced empire sounds tedious, the preponderance of ready-made challenges offer the gamer a chance to jump straight into the action, by reliving, say, the Napoleonic wars in 19th century Europe.
Although Civilization three certainly has its deficits, most of which are due to the poor graphics and slow processing speed innate to such a dated game, today’s gamers will still find a great deal of satisfaction, stimulation and adrenaline fueled, late-night conquests in this remarkably inexpensive, and endlessly replayable strategy game.