2K Games Civilization IV: Colonization review

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Civilization IV: Colonization is a standalone game based on the excellent Civilization IV (see What's New, Shopper 215).

In the original, you guided your people from prehistoric tribe to modern society. Colonization uses the same turn-based strategic gameplay, but deals only with the settlement of the new world.

You start the game with a small ship of colonists just off the American coast. After a brief scout around, you set up your colony's first town. Each town can reap resources from the squares around it, add various buildings and defences, and eventually grow into a city.

In the early days you must keep the peace with the natives, make sure you have enough food and try to grow cash crops to ship back to the king. As the game progresses, you can build a powerful navy, raid other colonies, destroy native settlements and trade in fine goods.

At the start of the game you choose a nationality, and its skills will shape your strategy. For example, the Spanish excel at taking advantage of the natives, while the Dutch make excellent merchants. It's this kind of -albeit crude - attention to historic detail that makes Colonization more fun to play than Civilization. The range of units is limited, but they are perfectly suited to the period and give the game its character.

Events move quickly for this type of game. Before long, you're using newspapers and recruited political figures to incite sedition among your colonists. You can then declare independence from your country of origin. Your king will send a military force to put down the rebellion; defeat it, and victory is yours.

You can play different nationalities and maps, but Colonization lacks the replay value of Civilization IV. It's very involving, though, and the only real downside is that becoming American is key to winning the game.

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