Civilization IV: Colonization review

The Civilization series has a long history and they are generally highly regarded turn-based strategy games. The newest game in the series, Colonization, is essentially a remake of Sid Meier’s 1994 game of the same name. Gameplay differs from the rest of the Civilization games in that you ship colonists from Europe to the New World, establish a foothold, declare independence from the motherland and fend off an expeditionary force. You decide where to place your cities, what to produce, who to trade with, which professions to train, what Founding Fathers to recruit, how to raise an army and when to finally declare Independence.

All that leads to an enormous amount of micromanagement. That’s not necessarily bad because it gives you control over your economy so you can build up your cities and pump out goods. That part of the game is actually pretty fun, but problems arise when you actually want to beat the game. I played 4 or 5 games and lost every single time when hundreds of Royal troops showed up at my doorstep and wiped me off the map after I declared independence.

Turns out the King will add troops to the expeditionary force depending on how much rebel sentiment you have generated and higher levels also increase the frequency. So the problem I ran into is I built my rebellion rating slowly over time as I built up my cities which led to gigantic enemy fleets and armies. I found some forum posts where people had figured out how to actually beat the game and once you figure that out the game becomes absolutely boring.

The flow of the game pretty much goes like this: build 2-3 cities, make lots of money trading, stockpile weapons and horses for Dragoons, destroy all but one inland city, get 50% rebel rating as quickly as possible, declare independence and then just wait while the expeditionary force throws themselves against the fortified walls of your city.

So while you can build out a vast network of cities and have fun doing that you’ll never win the game. You can beat the game with only one city, but build more than 3 and you’ll have a tough time winning. You can play on enormous continent sized maps, but what’s the point if you only build 1 or 2 cities right next to each other.

Initially the game provides the illusion that you are free to decide how to play the game, but really you have to follow specific steps or you might as well just start a new game. The big problem I have with the game is that there is procedurally only one way to win, but it doesn’t tell you that. I ran into a similar problem with Oblivion; as soon as I found out how many of the stupid gates I would have to close to continue along the story arc I just gave up (I went through the side quests, but never actually finished the game). Finding out how to beat a game shouldn’t make you want to stop playing, if it does that means it isn’t fun.

So if you are interested in a good turn-based strategy game look to the original Civilization IV and it’s two expansions and avoid Colonization.

3 Replies to “Civilization IV: Colonization review”

  1. I’ve never played a civilization type game. I remember playing the original sim city games a long time ago, but I’d usually get bored after 15 minutes and just ramp up the speed to super fast and see what happens.

    I beat MGS2 and skipping 3 and going straight to 4. I should make a post!

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