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Colonization Review

October 9th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 12 Comments · Firaxis, Gameshark, Review

My review of Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization is now up at Gameshark.

There are some widely reported issues with the game, especially in how it handles Liberty Bells and education. The education one really doesn’t bother me that much since you don’t really need to educate that many people and most of the resource specialists can be found at native villages.

It’s still a very good game, if harder than I remember. I like how it opens itself to emergent narratives, I like how it lets you take advantage of poorly defended neighbors and I like how it still tempts you with wiping out the indigenous peoples but ensuring that you know this is not always a good idea.


12 Comments so far ↓

  • Jason Lefkowitz

    Why is it that no reviews of this title mention that it comes loaded with SecuROM copy protection — the same DRM that everybody flipped out about when it shipped with Spore?

    I don’t mean to pick on your review particularly, I’m just frustrated that nobody mentioned it before I bought the title. Had I been aware of this I would have saved the money.

  • Troy

    I didn’t mention it for the same reason I didn’t with the Spore review – it made no difference in how I played the game, caused me no problems and wasn’t intrusive in any way.

    I do know that variations on Colonization and Securom are popping up in the Google searches that lead people here.

  • Morilac

    Your review does address some of the persistant problems that other reviews ignore (diminishing returns on crosses and schools, Liberty Bells being terrible for you), but I feel like its missing a bigger picture.

    My biggest problem with this game is that it forces you to play a specific way: small and rebellion focused. Most of the features people seem to be really bothered by are the ones that don’t come up if you are leading a small, well-run empire against steep odds.

    However, if you are like me and you would rather relax after a hard day by tending to the management of a sprawling empire, the game seems to actively thwart you at every turn. Heck, even the largest map size is at most a Medium Civ 4 map.

    I feel like this pervasive game design philosophy should be more front-and-center in reviews, since it is a crucial piece of information for anyone deciding whether to buy it (you can tell I regret that decision).

  • Alan Au

    I don’t regret picking up the Colonization remake, and I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it. For me, the game is an intricate puzzle to be solved, with the solution changing based on various starting conditions. Still, the game is far from perfect, and in its current state, it doesn’t have nearly the longevity of Civilization IV.

    As for Securom, I was under the impression that Colonization was using the same copy-protection system as Civilization IV, which doesn’t bother me quite to the point of active backlash. Admittedly, this is because I’ll either uninstall, or just hunt down a noCD patch.

  • James Allen

    I didn’t notice SecuRom since I got the Gamer’s Gate version. Input a CD key and away you go, no muss, no fuss, no disc.

  • Gunner

    I didn’t notice Securom either with the CD version. I could just be unobservant though I guess …

  • luke

    According to the official forums, Colonization uses a simple CD check, so I’m assuming that’s what the SecuROM is for. The only flavor of
    SecuROM people are pissed about, and rightfully so, is the one that provides a limited number of activations before requiring permission from the publisher to install. Spore, Crysis: Warhead, and Red Alert 3 use it. More will follow.

  • Michael A.

    I have to say that I didn’t find it particularly hard, once I started playing the game the way the game mechanics indicate the game should be played (rather than how I would like to play it). It was an interesting reunion with an “oldie” though while the interest lasted.

  • Jason Lefkowitz

    The only flavor of
    SecuROM people are pissed about, and rightfully so, is the one that provides a limited number of activations before requiring permission from the publisher to install.

    Actually the bit that many people (myself included) find objectionable isn’t the limited number of installs — though that is obnoxious — it’s that it’s implemented as a kernel-level/”ring 0″ driver.

    By assuming such a high level of privilege, the software effectively ties itself into your operating system beyond your ability to root it out or manage it. This can lead to problems, including security vulnerabilities and performance degradation, if the driver is poorly written. (And since SecuROM is closed-source and includes code that locks out standard monitoring tools, it’s hard to tell if it’s poorly written or not.)

    This is an extraordinary level of privilege for a piece of software to request from my system, and frankly I have a hard time justifying it just to play a game. You know?

  • Thomas Kiley

    You mention that it has great nostalgic value, as someone who never played the original, is there still enough is this game to warrant it’s purchase?

  • luke

    Jason, I didn’t know about that. “Objectionable” is an understatement. As if PCs don’t have enough problems with stability already.

    I assumed the install limits were the issue because people weren’t complaining about SecuROM en masse until Spore came along.

  • Krupo

    I got the game off Steam so (in addition to seeing the creepy but cool “time spent playing” stat go up), I didn’t have the SecuROM issues people complained about. On the civfanatics.com forums they made it sound like it doesn’t use the o-ring privileges, but since it didn’t affect me, I didn’t research that any deeper.

    I’ve completed a few games of Col, and to the person who complained that “rebellion is the only way”, disable the “Europe” and “Time” conditions to let yourself relax (start a custom game), and remember that even in Col 1 the game was biassed in favour of revolution.

    Heck, I vaguely recall being penalized for not having enough rebel sentinment in Col 1, so this was an improvement in that respect.

    Knowing that you should only BELL-BLITZ from time to time rather than do a slow dribble of anti-European agitation is key to enjoying this game though. I hated my first game, then learned the “right” way to play from the forums.

    The unofficial user-patches are already up to version 1.05 though. And that’s wild.