Civilization III: Complete

Originally released by MacSoft in the waning days of Mac OS 9, Civilization III never made the move to OS X. Now repackaged as Civilization III: Complete, the game not only runs on newer systems, but also includes two expansion packs that are new to the Mac. Civilization is a turn-based strategy game in which you oversee the development of a civilisation from the Stone Age all the way to the modern era – and even a bit into the future. You guide every aspect of your civilisation, including agricultural growth, diplomacy with neighbouring nations, the refinement of goods, development of culture, and the machinery of war.

To succeed, you must stake out a location that’s both strategically well placed and rich with resources. Building cities on coastlines where you can create ports to facilitate the import and export of goods is important, for example. As your nation grows, it will expand its borders and extend its influence to other areas. Meanwhile your competitors – computer-controlled or human – try to do the same thing. Eventually you’ll clash, and depending on how good your diplomacy skills are, you may find an important trade partner or a deadly enemy that you’ll have to fight tooth and nail.

You can choose from a variety of civilisations, everything from Babylonians to Americans. Each group has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, Americans can (with time) build high-powered warplanes that quickly take out enemies. Babylonians, on the other hand, get bonuses that reduce the cost of improving their scientific abilities.

Civilization III includes two add-ons – Conquests and Play the World. The more noteworthy of these is Play the World. It adds a multiplayer component that lets you compete against Civilization III players online – something Mac fans have longed for. As it isn’t cross-platform, though, you can only challenge other Mac players.

The Conquests add-on provides nine additional scenarios – campaigns that will test your mettle in a variety of scenarios, including ancient Mesopotamia, Roman times, and Napoleonic times. Conquests emphasises civilisation-to-civilisation combat; so if you’re a lover, not a fighter, you may not find much to like here. Thanks to the work by Aspyr, Civilization III runs well on today’s systems. The bad news is that there’s no upgrade discount for Mac users who bought the previous version of the game. Of course, all this is just preparation for the big event: Civilization IV, which should arrive later this spring.


If you’ve already played through MacSoft’s conversion of Civilization III, you won’t find enough here to make it worth your money. But for strategy-game fans that are new to the franchise, it will be a welcome addition.

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