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Article - 'Freeciv' by Marcus

An item about Miscellanious posted on Jun 30, 2005

Blurb

A free compilation of Civilization 1 & 2 with network play!

Body

Freeciv
Freeciv Webpage

Introduction
To quote directly from their website, "Freeciv is a multiplayer strategy game, released under the GNU General Public License." For those who don't know what this means; this game is free and it's open source which means you can edit it to your hearts content.

Anyone who grew up in 90s has surely played or atleast heard of Sid Meier and his excellent Civilization series. While Sim City focused on the modern period, Civilization gave us a turn based strategy game very similar to Risk that progressed through different periods of time from the early BCs of the Babylon empire to our own modern world. Civilization, however, allowed you to control the outcome of your Civ and build it to your hearts content. Freeciv is an attempt to recreate the classic Civilization feel that some felt was lost in Civ 3. Was it successful? Well, read on...

Gameplay
I'll say this simply; if you like strategy games you'll love this. If not, you probably won't change your mind.

The Setup Screen

When starting a new game, you're presented with several dozen different options to customize your game from the time the game ends to how effective spies and diplomats act in opposing cities. It may seem overwhelming at first, and most of it is superficial, but the fact that you have many options that aren't available in the retail version of Civilization is welcome for true strategy buffs.


Selecintg your Nation

After tweaking your game settings, you choose your nation. Because Freeciv was designed as a network game, the nations don't have any special functions other than their name, flag, and city style. I still think it's humerous that one can rule the world with Hobbits...


Beginning a new game

The game itself starts off simply enough; You have an explorer and two settlers. Your job is to explore the land and settle in the best possible locations to support your up and coming civilization. One helpful addition that wasn't in previous Civilizations is the "auto" ability. By simply using the "auto" function, characters will perform their abilities without your guidance. Settlers will choose the best location to build a city, explorers will uncover all fog of war, and workers will build roads and irrigate land. It's incredibly helpful especially when you're playing a game that has timed turns online.


Your first city

City building is simple at the start as you only have one city to care for and monitor. Your options are simple yet robust; you must keep track of the cities production, how it harvests it's resources, and the overall expenditure of said resources.


Technology screen

As you continue the game, research is required to further advance in technology. Research involves simple things like Alphabet all the way up to technological advances such as Espionage and Rocketry allowing the construction of nuclear missiles!

The game itself is fun and enjoyable. It moves at a fast pace if you know what you're doing but you can take your time if you're playing a single player game. The AI is challenging on all difficulties but the easiest and thankfully there are still a few people available online for network play. I have yet to run into any bugs or errors so that only helps the game in this case.

Overall, the actual gameplay is pretty flawless. All of the necessary features are available and easy to access and few things come out as frustrating or confusing if you know what you're doing from the start.

I guess the only real flaw I can point out is the fact that the game remains the same as Civilization II with few additions besides some helpful commands. As I said earlier, strategy fans will find themselves right at home while newcomers to the genre won't find much to grab and pull them in without constant devotion.

Gameplay: 9/10

Graphics
For a free game, the default graphical package is decent. The game has a nice isometric view and the tiles are well detailed although the sprites are bit plain looking. Overall, they serve their purpose well.

A look at the game's graphics

If the isometric graphics don't suit your tastes, several people have released their own graphical packs. Because the game is open license, anyone is free to create their own graphics and distribute them. Several graphical additions such as hexagon grid tiles and top down grid tiles are available to download from various websites.

My only complaint is the lack of animation but this is acceptable as the core of the game is the gameplay itself.

Graphics: 7/10

Sound
This is difficult to review as the game has no sound. Personally, I find this a godsend from the uninspired musical tracks and bland sound effects from Civilization III. Because there is no sound or music, you can have whatever tune you want blasting in the background. There's something wrong about playing the Katamari Damacy soundtrack while plowing through a bunch of Romans.

Sound: 8/10

Controls
The game controls exceptionally well. Everything is done with a single click of the mouse and all of your commands are available to you in a nice, neat environment. Opening up windows allows you to switch back and forth between them which means you'll never have to close them to focus back on the main map. The mini map moves to whatever location you click on and double clicking a unit will also pan the camera to his location. The game's interface also includes a very useful help function that pulls up a reference sheet to help you learn about your researches and unit abilities.

Interface: 9/10

Replay Value
The replay value is simply through the roof. The ability to customize every aspect of a game allows for different styles of play. Perhaps you want a completely tropical world or a world caught in an iceage. Maybe you want to play on a single continent or in an archipelago. Start out rich or dirt poor? Strong military? Alter the necessary food required before a city expands? All of these options are available for your tweaking fingers. Because the game also includes network play, you can battle your friends online adding more to the replay value.

Replay Value: 10/10

Overall
Overall, Freeciv is an excellent addition to any strategy buff's documents. It's easy to pick up and play and offers an immense amount of replay value and gripping strategy. While people unfamiliar with turn based strategy games won't find much that will appeal to them, armchair generals and micromanagers as well as casual strategy fans will find something to interest them for a good while.

Numerical Score: 8.6
Reviewers Opinion: PLAY THIS GAME NOW