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Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri» Forums » General

Subject: So, is this worth trying nowadays? rss

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Wondering how well this holds up? I picked it up from GOG last month (thanks to a seasonal visa gift card, woot!) and haven't tried it yet.

It's supposed to be amazing.

Any thoughts as to whether this will still hold up for me in today's modern gaming landscape?

As much of a graphics fanboy as I can be, in these types of games I tend to be less worried or impacted by that, so try not to worry about that aspect too much in your response.

Thanks!
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Nate K
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I personally think it holds up well. I returned to it a couple years ago and still had tons of fun with it. The graphics are a little dated, but it's not TOO bad, I think. The biggest issue I had was with the upgrade system. Fiddling with all your units to make sure they always have the latest and greatest equipment can be really tedious late in the game. A modern game would have automated all that.
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Enjoy some homing fireballs!
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Oh HELL yes it's worth playing.

The UI is a bit weird to get used to at first (learn your hotkeys, or life will SUCK for you), but it's fluid enough once you get used to it, and it has more strategic depth than any other Civ game -- and, honestly, I find its low-fidelity charmingly-90s view of the future kind of presentation much more palatable than the cartoonish look that the mainline Civ games push these days.
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Nate K
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Ooops wrote:

I may be wrong about this, but I think it's a bit more inclined towards conquest than most other CIV games.

Psh. Clearly you didn't play the Morganites often enough. Just buy everyone off until you Ascend.
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Luke Stirling
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Trondheim
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I'd add a note of caution. I think it very much depends on what you personally get out of 4X gaming. Going back to Alpha Centauri now, I find that a lot of the moment to moment activity fails to hook into the larger strategic scope, and that the latter is a far smaller decision space than with newer games.

It's a great game for what it is, but what it is is a game with a narrower strategic scope that many of the newer games in the genre. Frankly, the diplomacy sucks. This forces conflict to be a much bigger part of the game than it needs to be. If you are a heavily combat focused 4X gamer, this may not seem like a big deal. But if combat is but one of many tools you use in a wider ranging style of play, Alpha Centauri may not click for you at all.
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David
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It is still my favorite Civ-game just purely because of the awesome atmosphere. Admittedly I've never felt a connection to the "historic" setting of the main Civ games as apparently many people do. So I might be a bit of an outlier there. If you've played Civ IV then you know these little quotes that accompany certain breakthroughs. And with all due respect to W. Morgan Sheppard, his renditions of historic quotes just can't compete with the snippets and cool wonder cutscenes contained in SMAC.

I very much like the ability to tailor your own units instead of being forced down a set of boring predefined ones.

Of course the diplomacy and interface got much better since SMAC but it always worked well enough for my needs. And it is probably the first game I played that had an ingame manual.

So considering it's 50% off on GOG right now I don't see any reason not to try it if you're interested in it.
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Brian Cooksey
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Kempeth wrote:
It is still my favorite Civ-game just purely because of the awesome atmosphere. Admittedly I've never felt a connection to the "historic" setting of the main Civ games as apparently many people do. So I might be a bit of an outlier there. If you've played Civ IV then you know these little quotes that accompany certain breakthroughs. And with all due respect to W. Morgan Sheppard, his renditions of historic quotes just can't compete with the snippets and cool wonder cutscenes contained in SMAC.

I agree. Because the characters in SMAC are original creations I feel like I get to know them through play and my connection to each of them (whether I'm playing as them or against them) is stronger.

I played this again recently and the videos hold up pretty well despite being made so long ago. I also agree that the diplomacy options are limited and that conquest is by far the easiest option for victory but I have managed to win with other conditions in the past.
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Igor Larchenko
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Ivanteevka
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I always play on Earth map, with forests. I know it pretty well
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p55carroll
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"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." --Emerson
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paralipsis wrote:
Frankly, the diplomacy sucks.
What?!

I know I'm replying to a three-year-old post here, but that comment surprised me. IMO SMAC/X has the best diplomacy system I've ever seen in a 4X game.

Yes, the game does lean toward militarism, but it's not just the diplomacy subsystem that does that. You're dealing with crackpot faction leaders who'll stop at nothing to further their agenda, so you walk a thin line. Avoid offending the other leaders, try to match your social engineering up with theirs (e.g., Green to please the Gaians), trade freely, and you can win allies--often loyal allies. You do have to watch the shifting allegiances and adjust, but that's part of what makes the game great.

I guess I'm biased toward militaristic games, though. In Civilization (any version), I tend to try being a peaceful expansionist and win a diplomatic (or scientific or cultural) victory--but when I pull it off, I end up shaking my head and reflecting on what a boring game it was. In SMAC/X, I start out the same way, but the mind worms remind me that I need defenses; and once I start dealing with other factions, I realize I need a competitive army and fleet (and later an air force and orbital defenses). You can achieve a Transcendence victory (or an economic victory or diplomatic victory), but not without playing at least a sort of tower-defense game and probably doing some conquering as well. It's definitely a warring planet.

And I find that exciting. I can't enjoy a game that's all micromanagement--scraping around for a few more nutrients here, a few energy credits there, and just peacefully building up cities. I do clerical work in real life; I want something markedly different in games.


Btw, the downside of SMAC/X for people used to more modern 4X games is, IMO, that there will seem to be a lot of "busy work"--which I think is what Luke said in a different way. You fuss around with a lot of little things that don't have a big impact on the strategic picture. Those little things add up, and some enjoy them, but it can feel like "busy work."
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