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|Originally Published: Saturday, 15 July 2000||Author: Jeff Mrochuk|
|Published to: enhance_articles_games/General||Page: 1/1 - [Std View]|
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Preview
Alpha Centauri is among the newest in Sid Meier's series of amazing "God Games." It is a turn-based world conquest game similar to the Civilization series, published by Firaxis games, and the Linux version is currently in beta testing with Loki Entertainment Software. Loki is bringing out the Linux release to add to their great lineup of titles. Loki's release will feature both Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (SMAC) and Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire, SMAC's official expansion pack.
NOTE: All of the following is based on the BETA version of SMAC and could be subject to change.
Linux capable computer, Pentium class processor or better Linux kernel version 2.2.x 32 MB RAM 4x CD-ROM drive Video card capable of 800x600 resolution XFree86 version 3.2 or newer at 8 or 16 bpp. /dev/dsp sound device for audio (the Enlightenment Sound Daemon is supported as well). 25 MB free hard disk space
One nice thing about SMAC is that it does not require a particularly powerful machine.
If you've played the Civilization series games before, you'll notice the similar interface and strategy. If the genre is new to you, SMAC does have a very steep learning curve, but it features several tutorials and good in-game documention.
Once you get a feel for the game, SMAC will be one of the most addictive games you've ever played. Essentially, you begin as one of seven different factions (14 in Alien Crossfire) which have crash landed on an unknown planet, each faction with a different set of beliefs and goals. From then on it's up to you. You choose what you wish to research, design your own combat units, change your government and economy, create treaties and pacts with other factions, or take them to war, and much more.
No two games of SMAC will be alike. SMAC is turn-based, but you'll grow used to that relatively quickly, and after a while you won't even notice it. Beyond that, a new game is simple to start and SMAC's interface is quite easy and complete.
Planetfall! You'll begin your missions knowing almost nothing of your surroundings, as you are left to explore this unknown planet and contact other factions.
Island Conquest. SMAC features land water and air units, of more than 32,000 possible unit types.
Base Control. This is a shot of your advanced base control screen. Here you can control research, resources, commerce and more.
Planetary Council. Wish to elect yourself Planetary Governor? Bring down UN Agreements? Here's the place you do it. You'd better have a lot of votes, or money to bribe the other factions.
The Datalinks. The Datalinks contain information on EVERYTHING related to SMAC, from enemy units, to rainfall, to the Human Genome Project.
Domination. Don't think you've won yet, if you're not taking care of your bases, they'll revolt against you.
Victory is attained through one of five methods.
SMAC features beautifully rendered cutscenes and many unit designs, but the graphics quality is its biggest weakness. As you may have noticed in the screenshots above, there is only one "tileset" packaged, and the bland colors get a little repetitive. Although the units are well designed, they also get repetitive. The graphics in SMAC are not something mindblowing like you would see in Quake 3, but for an in-depth game such as this, you won't really notice.
Sound is one of the areas where SMAC excels. It contains hundreds of well-made sound effects and well-acted voice recordings. My hat goes off to Firaxis for excellent sound effects and great voice acting.
SMAC supports online play with several other human and computer opponents. Besides the occasional wait time, it plays very much like the single player, and is good fun waging war on your friends. The only flaw is, that due to the Win32 client using DirectPlay, it is incompatible with the Linux client, but you can play e-mail games between them. This is a shame, but not the fault of Loki, that DirectPlay is strictly for Win32 OSs. Loki has redone net play for Linux-Linux connections and it runs quite smoothly.
Loki's port of SMAC is excellent. This game is a great addition to the Linux lineup and should be a hit among the community. Also in addition to all this the Linux version fixes over one hundred and fifty bugs that were present in the Windows version. I stress the addictiveness of this game, once you start you will not be able to stop.
Gameplay: 4/5 Graphics: 3/5 Sound: 5/5 Multiplayer: 4/5 Overall: 4/5