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Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (SMAC) is rightly hailed as the best turn-based strategy game ever. In its space faring, planet-colonizing world, it pitched ideological factions against each other in a desperate bid to unlock the alien secrets of Alpha Centauri. And now it’s back in the shape of Alien Crossfire
It still features the same involving gameplay that made SMAC such a success. You get to build and control an empire, research technologies, construct armies and robot warriors, and spy on and disrupt both allies and enemies.
Set shortly after planetfall in Alpha Centauri, the luckless colonists are confronted with a new threat in the form to two mysterious alien cultures. Five new human factions have also emerged, such as The Free Drones (a cross between cypercommunism and anarchy), making for a completely new game.
Other new features surface in Alien Crossfire. New technologies based on developments stolen from the alien invaders can be deployed, and new facilities –such as aquafarms, covert operations centres, and sub-sea trunklines – can be built. Additional secret projects are itching to be discovered, and take the form of such conquering delights as the Nethack Terminal which lets you access an opponent’s network and steal their data.
As with any turn-based game, it’s the rules that breathe life into it. Victory conditions now figure – such as the ability to build a gigantic distress beacon, if you’re playing as one of the Manifold aliens, and phone home to request an Independence-Day-style fleet. Also, Hotseat multiplayer mode has been added, as has an email multiplayer mode. And while the graphics haven’t been given the overhaul that many would like, the cut-scene movies are still exceptional.
Any self-respecting SMAC addict will need to get Alien Crossfire to ensure their regular fix of supreme turn-based empire building. It’s an intelligent addition to the world that both adds sweeping changes and a range of minute tweaks to an already unsurpassed gaming experience.