Also known as Sid Meier’s Colonization, this turn-based strategy game is based on the European colonisation of the New World, starting in 1492 and lasting until 1850. It’s essentially an updated and more-developed version of Sid Meier‘s previous game, Civilization. Which is no bad thing since Civilization is a superb, classic strategy game.
The player controls the colonial forces of either England, France or The Netherlands and must explore either a historical map (of America), or a randomly-generated map, doing what colonial forces do best: displace and murder natives and pillage the resources of the land, under the pretence of “improving” the landscape and “civilising” the local population…
You make landfall, choose a Founding Father to lead the colony, then get to work recruiting colonists who’ll farm, build and fight for you. As your colony becomes more advanced and explores more you’ll “find” more and more gold and treasure which will then lead to sensitive political situations where you’ll be forced to share your wealth with the crown of your home country. You can refuse to do this, but it will only make you powerful enemies back home.
Colonial cynicism aside, Colonization is an engrossing war game that romanticises the process of colonisation with evocative scenes of living peacefully with natives (but with occasionally threatening undertones), farming, being welcomed by newly-discovered civilisations, training and trading peacefully with Indians, creating Congress, signing peace treaties, and kissing pinky rings. Apart from the occasional unexpected massacre my experience of playing Colonization was so damn… nice. Maybe that’s just down to the way that I play the game? If I killed and murdered a bit more then maybe it’d be less pleasant?
Graphically, game-play-wise, and in terms of overall presentation, Colonization is a leap forward from Civilization, with more detail, more colour, and more… heart. Both are great games, but this sequel probably edges it in terms of overall enjoyment.
One final note: Sid Meier devised Colonization alongside three other designers – Jeff Briggs, Douglas Kaufman, and Brian Reynolds – so it seems a bit disingenuous to call the game Sid Meier’s Colonization. My guess is that Sid didn’t press for this title change and that it was the marketing men weaving their “magic” that did. And I guess “Sid, Jeff, Doug, and Brian’s Colonization” didn’t quite have the same ring to it… It’s interesting to note that the 1995 Amiga version shown here was just titled “Colonization” by publisher Microprose.