Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth takes place in the future of humankind. We’ve trashed the earth and are sending people into deep space to colonise an alien planet (inhabited by primitive fauna and flora). Rising Tide is a downloadable content for the basic game that adds new factions (a second wave of colonists), new biomes and the colonisation of the oceans. The story underlying Civilization games has always been traditionally bare bones. There is no real campaign to speak of and the storytelling is limited to the introductory cut scene. The story is your civilisation developing to dominate this new world, and yours to play.
Playability: Hard core turn based strategy
I only play Civilization every few years, when a new instalment comes out. I always install Civilization with a mixture of dread and anticipation. I look forward to playing the game, but not to sleep deprivation. The basic game mechanics of empire building haven’t changed much over time: establish an outpost, grow it into a city, build farms, cut trees, mine resources, research technologies, explore, trade, build more cities, build armies, conquer or assimilate…There is an artificial advisor in Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide, and conveniently it is voiced for the basic building blocks. However, there is still an inordinate amount of reading to understand the game enough to enjoy playing it. The tech web, research, production, virtue and diplomacy options will easily overwhelm new comers.
Annoyance: Long slog towards development
Depending on victory conditions, a Civilization game can traditionally last days if not weeks (or in the case of an old video gamer with a harried real life, months). It would be nice if there were an option for quick simplified gameplay with limited number of units, factions, technologies and virtues. Like all Civilization games, Beyond Earth – Rising Tide can be addictive. It is nice to see an empire flourish, and technological and institutional wonders achieved. But it just takes so much of one’s time that the repetition of tasks ultimately becomes numbing.
Beauty: Nice small animations and wooden avatars
Units are nicely animated: soldier shuffle around the board, gun boat fire missiles, rocket ships launch into space. However, there is only so much visual detailing that can be packed into a hex. Beyond Earth – Rising Tide is about as beautiful and artistic as a turn-based board game. Despite the nice introductory cut scene, Beyond Earth – Rising Tide provides little eye candy. The leaders of the different factions are somewhat stereotypical (French, Brazilian, Arabic…) but have made little technological progress in terms of character animation. It often feels like playing against the different emasculated avatars of the same shackled Artificial Intelligence (of course, we know it is the case, but a little bit more drama and colours would have been nice).
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Science fiction green skin 7/10
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide follows in the footsteps of illustrious ancestors (including Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri). Whether you want to play this latest instalment of a classic video gaming experience, or Civilization V or earlier versions, is a matter of personal preference. Modern gizmos and science fiction fan may enjoy Beyond Earth – Rising Tide and its flock of alien fauna and high tech buildings. Anyhow, playing a Civilization game requires a significant time commitment, which may ultimately lead to deleterious sleep deprivation.