Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - PC

Release Date:

24 October 2014


Civilization: Beyond Earth is a strategy masterpiece, and a worthy expansion to the series' ideas. In many ways, it's a more significant sequel than Civilization 5, the game that is the basis for this game's engine, was to Civilization 4.

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8.5 / 10
To sum up this game, very well presented and good story overall, game play is lengthy, what more could you ask of a game.
by 2K Games
Release Date: 12/10/2007

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Civilization: Beyond Earth is a strategy masterpiece, and a worthy expansion to the series' ideas. In many ways, it's a more significant sequel than Civilization 5, the game that is the basis for this game's engine, was to Civilization 4.

As the absolutely breathtaking opening cinema shows in its near flawless cinematic appeal, a girl is suddenly selected to say goodbye to her aging father to be a part of a crew that will travel into space to find a new home for the citizens of a dying Earth. While she's only representative of whomever you choose to head your effort into the brave new world, you'll lead the hope of our world into colonizing a hostile and mysterious alien planet. Essentially, Beyond Earth is the "And then..." that is always implied by the end game of previous Civilization games.

How is Mysterious Alien Planet different from Earth? For starters, the alien threat makes for a constant and tense challenge to overcome. A poison miasma covers the planet you land on, draining resources and precious strength from scouts you send out into the unknown darkness. Various feral creatures will try to destroy cities and wreck havoc with your burgeoning civilization in a way that is much more of a constant threat than the basic wildlife of previous Civilization games.

All this of course is happening while you're dealing with the other ships that have landed on the planet, and are starting their own civilizations. While the difference between landing on a new planet, and simply building up a culture on Earth is a cosmetic one, interactions with the other civilizations are made much more fresh by a new system that changes the core of how your decisions will play out.

This idea, called the affinity system allows you to choose between three approaches to play: Purity, Harmony and Technology. This isn't just a cosmetic difference. You can only choose one, and cannot switch. Pure civilizations strive to preserve the spirit of human culture, while harmonious ones feel the need to synchronize with the forces of the planet to evolve like their alien threat, and technological civilizations focus much more on overcoming adversity with technology, to the point that they eventually abandon humanity for a cyborg existence. Of course, each choice makes for the requisite strong advantages and disadvantages which is the essential appeal of strategy, but even better, they are integrated so well that it is easy to see why civilizations would become allies or enemies. It is even easier to imagine your civilizations' course through history, and role-play great sessions of political savvy close to or far away from your own beliefs.

Elsewhere, improvements abound in nearly every aspect, to the point where the game plays out impressively like its own beast and less like an expansion. One great example is the improvement to the handling of the developing new technologies. Presented like a web of possible interlocking links, it is so much easier, more flexible and tactically rich to plot out new paths that it makes new play sessions a much more rewarding experience.

One thing that I dearly wish the developers at Firaxis would consider, however, is making the civilizations' dialogue and leaders a little more charismatic. They're still very safe and politically correct caricatures of people who surely only exist in ideals. If you're a long-time space strategy player, you can probably recall the fantastic, humorous and memorable alien races of Star Control 2. Why can't we get a little more of that here rather than the bland stand-ins for various ideologies?

It's not anywhere close to a deal-breaker though, much like the somewhat persistent inconsistencies in trading, diplomacy and warfare that slightly suffer only because there hasn't been a patch at the time of this writing to fix them yet. However, Firaxis has been very diligent in patching Civilization games, and has already communicated that some of the issues will be fixed soon, so there shouldn't be any worries there.

Despite a little bit of the ever-present Civilization blandness, Beyond Earth is an addictive and compelling journey into the stars, and a distinct companion to sit alongside Sid Meier's other space strategy classic, Alpha Centauri.

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Nov 4, 2014

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