Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Review - Alpha Centauri has a worthy successor

Author: Kacper Pitala
Date: 2014-10-27 15:21:00
The review was based on the PC version.

The new Firaxis production enchants with an atmosphere that would be envied by many adventure games. This may seem irrelevant to a strategy, but don't be fooled by appearances. Thanks to its specific atmosphere and great audiovisual setting, Beyond Earth stands out from previous editions and additionally makes long sessions more enjoyable. And it is not difficult to lose a few hours on this game. The New Civilization draws in exactly the same as the fifth installment of the series, although veterans should not be afraid of a repetition of the entertainment. A few new systems - with curious aliens at the fore - were enough to make old habits outdated.

From the moment you land on a new planet, the unique atmosphere of the game takes its toll. Instead of the usual pastiche of the science fiction genre, the creators have created a world full of subtle philosophical considerations and based in places on real achievements of science. You can feel a sincere passion for this type of topic here. During the playing, we are always accompanied by a mystical mood, sometimes even hitting quite pessimistic tones. The reality is not candy here. We know that mankind has kicked things up hard on Earth, and the alien globe is actually the last hope.

The farther into the forest, the more impressive the setting itself. People grow strange local fruits on futuristic plantations, small colonies turn into impressive metropolises, and scouts efficiently use modern equipment to explore the area. Of course, we will soon get used to all these things, but even then, the effects of the artists' works are a pleasure to look at. Music is also of great importance, as it emphasizes not only the aforementioned sublime nature of space exploration, but also the anxiety prevailing in the game. By the way, completely justified.

Beyond Earth is a full-fledged civilization , so it works on more or less the same principles. The territory is still the most important, each field has certain properties, and by building improvements and expanding, we care for the dynamic development of our colonies. However, there is one thing that changes this fairy tale significantly. Alien life forms inhabiting the planet have a strong influence on our game at the beginning and the end. The world is dotted with nests that their hosts will always fiercely defend. Away from them, aliens are becoming rather neutral.

It does not change the fact that development opportunities are limited. The planet is not entirely at our disposal, so we must carefully expand the borders - so as not to get under the skin of native inhabitants. You can feel a bit trapped here, but in the end, aliens give the game a very interesting character. It is thanks to them that we respect our land more, we perceive each enlargement of the territory as a success, and we control the scouts in a careful and thoughtful way. Beyond Earth gives the impression of a production about fighting with the environment, than about clashes with competing civilizations. For some, the local fauna can be an irritating obstacle, but for me it is a natural element of the game that changes its dynamics in an interesting way.

With time and the development of military strength, you can of course deal with problematic aliens. On the other hand, there is nothing to prevent them from being treated as neighbors. Both of these attitudes are related to the doctrine division of the game.

Purity is a doctrine that emphasizes the uniqueness of man - we come from Earth and we must not forget it. Harmony is an equally interesting approach, according to which we can become something more by living in harmony with a foreign globe. For technology fans, there is Supremacy, whose supporters see the future of humanity in machines and human improvement. Using these three ideologies, the creators not only make interesting guesses about the future of our species, but also introduce an additional layer of progress to the game. Each doctrine is marked with an experience bar, and subsequent levels (gained mainly through appropriate technologies, but not only) unlock various bonuses and unique military units, ultimately opening the way to a unique type of victory.

By the way of technology, it is worth mentioning their ... content. Civilization has always been based on the history of human development, but here the developers had to let their imagination run wild. However, it is gratifying that they have not opted for pseudo-futuristic gibberish. Lots of discoveries are based on research already done today, or simply thinking 'what if?' In the game, we use, for example, vertical farms, advanced mechatronics, climate control or genetic experiments. The web of technology seems very credible and can arouse sincere interest in the topics it contains.

When it comes to winning, there are some pretty interesting ideas here. The authors decided to play a bit with the form, and so, for example, one of the ways to discover an alien signal (this applies to victory through contact with an intelligent race) is to explore the hard-to-find ruins. This puts emphasis on a slightly more active aspect of the game, i.e. maneuvering scout units around the map. In turn, victory that is characteristic of Supremacy requires you to first build a portal, into which you must then enter a certain number of troops. These variations slightly diversify the final stage of the game, although it can sometimes be prolonged.