Alpha Centauri is another game I decided to buy now that it’s discounted on I actually bought it closer to the start of the holiday sales, but I didn’t get a chance to play it until a few days ago. Why? Because I didn’t have the time. The better question is, why did I finally have the time for it?

I fixed my laptop!

You see, I started working a few months ago, which means I had to move to a nearby city and take my PC with me. The problem was, when I was back home for the weekend, I didn’t have a computer that was able to play games. I had my laptop, but it malfunctioned ages ago. If you tried to run a game on it, it would simply lock up and go black. It did this, until recently.

I got an idea last week. I extracted the bios from the GPU and then modified the speeds and voltages in various operation modes. This basically reduced the power of the GPU by over a half, but as I hoped, it also eliminated the malfunction. I couldn’t play any modern games on it, but it was now finally good enough for the classics.

Let’s Play Alpha Centauri

Thanks to the fact that I finally owned it, as well as the fact that one of the YouTube channels I’ve been following, quill18, who has been doing a Let’s Play of the game as of recently, I decided that this amazing game will be the first one for me to play during the holidays. It ended up being the only one, but I have no regrets.

Alpha Centauri, Final Score

The final score was one for the records, since it was the first actual record.

I dare to say that Alpha Centauri is the best 4x game out there right now, which is amazing considering it was released well over a decade ago. It simply has it all – complexity, strategy, options, an amazing encyclopedia of data you can read through and an amazing amount of quality science fiction. It’s actual science fiction to, not just unresearched fiction that takes place in the future.

The University

I played as Academician Provost Zakharov of the university faction. My intention was to play purely scientifically, but over the course of the game, I got dragged into several wars. I eliminated a faction and dragged two more close to extinction, but ended up getting the transcendence victory.

Zakharov is my favorite faction leader, with some great quotes, though most of the quotes in Alpha Centauri are amazing and thought-provoking, especially considering the game’s release year.

Alpha Centauri - My second game

This is is where my second game was when I had to end my session.

My next game was taking place in the expansion, Alpha Centauri: Alien Crossfire, which I haven’t played at all up until now, but I didn’t get a chance to complete that one, due to lack of time. I played as the Morganites and managed to eliminate the Progenitors early. Other than that, not much of note happened. I tried using specialized cities this time, but I don’t think it’s a good strategy when it comes to tile improvements. You could specialize in buildings, but each city needs to have a good amount of every resource to support its formers and defenses, so tile specialization seems out of the question.

Short lived…

Sadly, once this issue on my laptop was fixed, another issue was discovered. My hard drive, or possibly even my motherboard seems to be dying. It gave me some trouble while I was home and yesterday, my brother in law told me over the phone that it won’t boot and is instead just beeping during the POST screen.

I think I’m going to have to invest some money into an extra PC. I really don’t need a laptop, so a PC is definitely a better option. It can be cheap to, since I already have a high performance machine. As I said, if it’s good enough for the classics, it’s good enough for me. Alpha Centauri shall be played again.

With all three of my neighbors eliminated, I now had the whole eastern side of the continent for myself. I decided to stop with the war and start focusing on achieving a victory condition. Since domination, unlike in Civ IV, requires me taking all of my opponents’ capitals, I decided to go for the cultural or diplomatic victory. I basically didn’t care which one it will be, so I went for both. I made a beeline for the UN, while building up cultural buildings in all of my cities.

Civilization V, Golden Age

The golden age was still active when the game was over.

Thanks to the faith income I had and the religion “elements” I’ve picked, I was now able to buy great artists at an insane rate. I was basically able to stay in a perpetual golden age from this point until the end of the game, so, of course, I decided to go for it. I used the extra income to buy favor with all the city-states and basically dominated every aspect of the game from now on.

Eventually, I researched the required techs to build the UN. I’ve built it around the same time I was able to begin construction of the Utopia project, meaning both of my goal victories were competing against each other. Finally, two turns before the Utopia project was built, a UN vote began and I was forced to vote for someone. I picked the Celts and the game was won.

Civilization V, Diplomatic Victory

It’s sort of bittersweet, since the Celts actually won. The game counts me voting them in as a victory, though.

I’m thinking Civilization V is much, much easier than Civilization IV, so any future games I play will be played on a higher difficulty. In fact, I’ll be raising the difficulty after each game I manage to win. I’ll see where that takes me.

In my last session, I obliterated Ethiopia. In this one, I had a brief moment of peace before the war continued.

I started to build up my economy a bit, and managed to reach gunpowder units, before Russia decided to call me into a war with Montezuma. He only had one city left so, even though Catherine was completely useless, I managed to ruin him relatively fast.

Civilization V, Montezuma

It’s chieftain difficulty. Of course I dare.

I got his capital, which meant I now had two of Catherine’s cities surrounded on both sides. Since she started to really bug me by having her spies constantly stealing my technologies, I immediately moved on into a war against her. Thanks to a couple of cannons I’ve built in the meantime, the two cities she previously stole from Montezuma were mine in a couple of turns. Her capital lasted for a bit longer, but that to, was mine eventually.

Civilization V, Political Map

I said it was going to get greener.

Things are getting a lot greener now.

I got the Gods & Kings expansion a few days ago from Amazon, so I decided to go for a round today. I set everything to random and got Gandhi as my leader.

Gandhi’s trait is “Population Growth”. This reduces the amount of unhappiness gained from city size by half, but doubles the unhapinness gained from extra cities. Naturally, this means I needed to build fewer cities, but plan to make them big as soon as possible, meaning my number one priority was to find places rich in food. The problem is, I was a bit rusty, so I was having some trouble spotting the perfect locations.

Civilization V, Starting Point

It took me a while to get the first settler ready.

In any case, I started the usual routine of training a scout and researching the techs needed to access the local resources. Soon, I met Montezuma, who I meet far to often in my games. I hated him back in Civ IV, so this hate sort of transferred to Civ V, but since all the AI opponents are very unpredictable in this game, I guess there really isn’t any reason to hate Monty any more than the rest of them.

Next up, I met Catherine of Russia, followed by Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. Ethiopia soon turned out to be my closest neighbor, but they didn’t give me much trouble. Both they and Russia took a liking for me, actually. Catherine was the strongest of my opponents, but luckily, she focused on taking down Montezuma, so I was left alone for most of the game.

Throughout the BC era, I didn’t go above three or four cities. Instead, I focused on building them up, researching my techs and improving the tiles. I managed to found a religion to, which is a new feature of Gods & Kings. I have to say, I love how religion is handled in the expansion. You basically build your own religion from various available traits. Based on how you build it, it can be an extremely powerful addition to your empire.

I decided to mix it up, but picked production bonuses mostly, since I wanted to focus on my cities and wonder building. The first wonder I built was the Great Library, which allowed me to pick Drama and Poetry as the bonus tech, which, in turn, got me into the classical era extremely early.

Civilization V - The Great Library

I always build far too many wonders.

Sometime during the renaissance, I entered a war against the Aztecs with Russia. I captured one of their cities and decided to hold it in spite of it being a bit to far into Catherine’s territory. After this war, the Aztecs were reduced to only their capitol, so they weren’t a threat any more.My next opponent, Boudicca of the Celts, I’ve met a bit later, but still well before I entered the medieval era at 125 BC. It was only after this that I finally met my last opponent – Lord Askia of Songhai. Both of these, I had very little dealings with.

With that out of the way, I decided to expand my territory a bit, at the cost of Ethiopia. Since I was playing on the chieftain difficulty, everyone was extremely far behind in tech, so the war didn’t last long and Ethiopia was destroyed.

It was getting late by now, so I decided to end my session here.

Civilization V - Political Map

I expect the map to be a lot greener next time.

There was an insane sale offering many, many popular titles at extremely low prices on Amazon recently. They called it the “May Mayhem” and if you missed it, it sucks to be you.

Since I already mentioned I’m quite a broke person living in Croatia, I couldn’t really buy any of the games there.  I could, however, “buy” them. You see, there’s this thing called Amazon MechanicalTurk, which allows you to do simple micro jobs and get paid in Amazon Payments credit. The catch is, it only works with special MTurk Amazon Payments accounts which can’t be used to pay on line, only to add to your gift certificate balance.

This is what I did. I didn’t extensively work on MTurk because, basically, it would suck as a job and pay extremely little. What I did do is that every time I was waiting to do something else on line, I jumped to the site quickly and did a single well paid micro job like a 5 minute survey or something. In any case, I acquired some credit and used part of that to get Civilization V when it was on sale for $7.50. I played the game for 10 or so hours up to now, so I think I’m qualified to talk about it for a bit.

Is Civlization V better or worse than Civilization IV?

It’s… different. I feel they have improved on some aspects, but failed at other aspects. I love the new hex grid. It allows for more detail and more realistic presentation. I love the fact that there’s one unit per hex now. It allows for more tactics during war as well as peace, since positioning your civilizations defences properly helps you prepare better for surprise attacks by your enemies. I love the fact that you aren’t encouraged to place a road/railroad on each and every tile within your borders.

Civilization V - Map With Armies

The feature I absolutely love is the “one unit per tile” rule Civilization V introduced.

I don’t like how little “luxury” is in the game. You complete your spaceship? Oh, here’s a short in-game animation above your capital of your ship launching and that’s it. No CGI, no video, nothing. Built another wonder? Oh well, a picture will fade in the screen with the info text overlay above it. You won the game and would like to see the replay? Nope, here’s just a text log of what happened in the game.

Now, I haven’t gotten any DLC for it yet, so I don’t know if any of my issues were fixed, but even if they were, that only brings me to the last point. What’s up with this huge amount of DLC content? Why? Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we get a game, and then expansions? I mean, I know why. The answer is simple. It brings in money. People buy it, and it’s good business. I just hate that it’s good business. I wish it weren’t.

So is it better than Civilization IV? No, definitely not. Is it worse? I’m not sure. It’s good enough and that’s all it is. I’m still going to play it every now and then, just not as often as I did with Civilization IV. Who knows, maybe Gods and Kings will make it all better again.

I finally managed to get my computer working, so expect a whole bunch of posts in the future. Sadly, I have a headache today, so all I did was to play some Civilization 5. It’s every bit as awesome as I imagined, so I’m reserving a permanent spot on the hard drive for it.

I just started a random, non-custom game and I got China as my civilization. First I’ve spent some time expanding and then I encountered a total of four nation states and the Aztecs. I destroyed two of the states and allied with the other two. Then the Aztecs attacked one of them, so I decided to retaliate and destroy them. Since I was now alone on the continent, I researched the required techs to cross the ocean. On another continent, I encountered the Ottomans, Americans and the Egyptians. The first two hated the Egyptians, so I decided to cash in on that and gang up on Ramses. Pretty soon, he was capitulating and gave me half of his empire just to stop the attack. This is where the headache got to strong and I saved my game.

I played very little, but I did finish a few games. I tried a special game with a tiny map and 18 civilizations. That way, each civilization mostly has room for one city and that’s about it. I went for culture at first but then steamrolled through the other civs one my borders reached their towns. I finished the game with 3 vasals under my control, which never happened in any of my previous games.
I’ve also been watching some gameplay videos of Civilization V, and I have to say, I can’t wait until it gets released. This should be happening in a little over a month. It basically keeps all the great stuff about this one, and greatly improves on all of the flaws.

I keep coming back to this game. Off course, there is no campaign or anything similar so I won’t be completing it, but I do plan to go through a session every now and then. I installed it a few days ago, so I played a few games already, but nothing major. I would like to try and win some games on higher difficulties.

So after another long break, the summer has finally begun. I got a bunch of games I missed trough last year, and I’m currently catching up on TV shows I missed. I recently finished New Super Mario Brothers for the second time. Right now I’m collecting all the gold coins I missed (the first two worlds are cleared). I’m also playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, currently about 25 hours in, and nowhere near the end. I’ll try to get some work over the summer, so I can pay for my tuitions (and maybe invest in some new entertainment gadgets), but mostly, I’ll be playing games. I will also try to turn my blog in to a daily routine.

EDIT: I invested a few more hours in FFTA2. It’s really a great game. I managed to become region champion in all regions of the starting continent, and I did a few item auctions already. I got a Genji Helm, and a few other nice items. My main character is now level 36, and I’m planning to train him as a ninja for a few levels, because he’s really slow right now. I also tried Civilization Revolution for the DS. I like it, but it could have been better. I really hate the constant animation stuttering. It’s pretty obvious that the DS wasn’t the primary platform.

I didn’t play much of anything lately. I installed Civilization IV again (my secret addiction), and have finished a few standard size games. I tried Shiren the Wanderer for the DS but I didn’t like it (it seems a little too slow paced for me). I don’t have much time because I need to study for my exams next week, so my gaming addiction is on hold for a while. Good news is that Assassins Creed is being released right around the time my exams are over, so ill have something to play then.