Alpha Centauri

Good
  • Huge amount of strategy with players able to make the macro and micro decisions you expect from a 4X strategy title
  • Unique unit mechanic that allows your upgrades to be tailored
Bad
  • Older game foundation creates some issues with UI and general pacing that may turn modern gamers away
8.5

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is a sci-fi 4X turn based strategy game with plenty of depth to explore that is often considered to be one of the titans in this genre of strategic titles. Released back in 1999 the game shifts the theme of the Civilization franchise into science fiction with a setup that sees seven different ideologies fighting for control of the Alpha Centauri planet of Chiron. In addition to the base game players have a single expansion pack available (Sid Meier’s Alien Crossfire) which adds a number of features and factions to the game for further strategic options.

alpha-centauri-gameplay-chiron

It’s easy to see similarities in the design of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri and the Civilization series of games with similar designers, Sid Meier and Brian Reynolds at the head of both games. Alpha Centauri is also designed to reflect the next stage of Civilization progression by exploring what happens after you win the space race and launch a ship successfully. An obvious difference though is that Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri takes place in the 22nd century and presents players with an alien world to conquer rather. Built with the same engine as Civilization II your available tools are familiar though as players customisable units, engage with native alien life, social engineer their opponents and adjust to the climate.

With the planet Chiron as your base each game match takes place after a ship of colonists above the planet has descended into chaos and split into seven distinct factions before evacuating to the surface. Once home to an alien species Chiron is not only your new home but also home to great monolith structures of power left behind by this advanced species (which are in fact playable in the expansion). While each has their own ideology the major gameplay impact is your starting technology, modifiers and unit bonuses that each have which are intended to poke players in a specific direction.

alpha-centauri-gameplay-diplomacy

This gameplay direction is based on the standard 4X strategy formula with players in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri players able to setup bases, create facilities, embark on projects, explore the map, research technologies, engage in diplomacy and of course conquer other factions. The game is split into squares that players can use to establish bases, get resources and even terraform squares to alter their function. The result is a three pillar approach to managing your colony that integrates resources, bases and administration activities with each having decisions, management and technology trees to explore to make you just a little bit stronger than your enemy.

Herein lies your strategy in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri  with each individual decision shifting your focus. This may be simple decisions like your balance of nutrients, minerals and energy or advanced decisions like how you specialise your citizens in roles across drone, worker, technician, engineer, doctor, librarian and other specialisations. Ultimately your goal is to achieve that specific scenario goal or target a diplomatic, economic, military or evolutionary victory of other players. A retirement mechanic also ensures that games have an end up with a computed score deciding the ultimate victor of the planet.

alpha-centauri-gameplay-governor

A notable unique game mechanic in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is the technology trees which grant players with new unit components rather than entirely new units. This allows you to incorporate new technology into your current goals and units rather than make previously created structures and units obsolete. In turn this gives the player control over the durability, speed and strength level of each unit to achieve your broader goals.

Summary:

  • A classic turn based strategy game that expands to the next stage of a Civilization space victory.
  • Command one of seven factions in the base game with their own ideologies and bonuses to define their strategy.
  • Balance your focus across resources, bases, administration, combat and diplomacy to achieve your objectives.
  • Customise your units to specific goals while you progress through the technology tree.
  • Alter your game challenge through a number of difficultly levels, campaign rules and map customisations.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.
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