The long-awaited Colonization has finally made its way from the PC and onto the Amiga. Developer Sid Meier already has a stack of hit titles behind him, including the game's predecessor, Civilization. Colonization is not really the sequel to this but a lot of the game's features are included. Much of the original game engine is used too.
The difference lies in when the game is set. Whereas Civilization put you back in pre-history, building your civilization up to the space age, Colonization has a more specific time span, putting you in the role of Viceroy of the New World. The American's have just been discovered in 1500 and the game continues up until the American Revolution in 1800.
You have been sent by your country to establish colonies in the newly discovered territories and deal with all the problems that the early settlers faced. Playing as either the English, French, Spanish or Dutch, you must establish your colony, learn to use the natural resources and set up a viable trade route. Relations with the natives and with the other foreign powers can also be established, either through diplomacy or war.
The game starts and you have the option to play at different skill levels. Play as a Discoverer if you've never played before and rise through the ranks up to the challenge of Viceroy. This is by far the hardest route and the natives will be less friendly and enemy powers more cunning. Help is at hand, however, though your advisers who can be consulted on matters such as trade conditions or the state of play with your rivals.
Unlike a lot of games, as well as facing the challenge in hand, you are also competing against opponents. IN this case it's not only natives but the other foreign powers all seeking dominance in the New World. You play in a series of turns - each has a strict sequence of action - and within each turn you can carry out your plans.
To win the game, you must build up enough power to successfully declare independence from your mother country. Alternatively, the game automatically ends in 1800 where your score will be calculated, although you can play after this time but without any score being accumulated.
For the more cerebral games player, Colonization comes highly recommended
The game requires you to make a vast amount of decisions on trade, warfare and colonial issues. Once a colony has been established, the most priority will be survival and collating enough of the natural resources to start a small cottage industry. As this accumulates you can start thinking about establishing trade routes and building a stable economy.
The education and religious needs of your colonists should also be addressed, and establishing schools and colleges will make for better skilled workers. All the information you may need compiled in various tables and will import things such as how many favour rebellion against their mother country, or how much religious freedom there is.
An encyclopedia is also to give you helpful information on terrain types or any particular aspect you need more detail on. Issues get debated with your colony and eventually Founding Fathers can join your Continental Congress.
With them they can bring radical new ideas that will advance the course of history. For example, John Pal Hones was a successful Scottish naval commander who served for the colonies during the war of independence and if he joins your congress your navy will get a frigate.
As the game progresses war may become necessary with other foreign powers you come across. Diplomacy can be sought and whether you wage war will depend on resources. A quick campaign can have its benefits but long campaigns will drain resources.
Those familiar with Civilization will see that this game use a similar interface. Controlled by the mouse, you can click on a drop down menu to give your orders. Keyboard shortcuts can also be used to carry out an order quickly. Some may also be surprised to see that the game uses workbench.
Although it's not a visually stunning game, the graphics are more detailed than you'd expect from this wide range overhead view and different terrains are all conveyed realistically. Other graphics worth a mention are the characters that appear throughout the game which are drawn well and add authenticity and an historic air.
Finally, there's plenty of in-game music you can choose from, so you don't get stuck with one grating tune throughout. From Indian pan pipes to jaunty victory tunes, you can take your pick.