Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds
Windows 3.x - 1997
Description of Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds Windows 3.x
Another Civ II Addon?
If you've been on a return trip to Jupiter or have only just reached that age at which computer strategy gaming is your thing then there's a slim chance you might not have heard of Civilization or it's more attractive descendent Civ II. If you are one of these deprived people then I suggest you immediately check out one of our Civ II reviews and if you're not then now is a great time to buy because the game is sinking towards the bargain buckets. In the UK for example Game now stock it at under 20 quid, in part because Civ II, the first addon and now Fantastic Worlds can all be had in one bundle for the price Civ II originally sold at.
The selling points for Fantastic Worlds are the scenarios it offers - 19 in all - plus the enhanced scenario editor. You also get the latest patch version of the game so when you install Fantastic Worlds you're taken up to version 2.7.81. The scenarios on offer in Fantastic Worlds are certainly pretty innovative and while 8 of them are taken from the net the other 11 are all very original (as far as I know!). More interestingly Microprose have made scenarios with themes base on their past successes, so there's a Master of Orion scenario, plus ones for Master of Magic and X-Com.
The quality of the scenarios is generally high. The ones you'll jump right into will likely be those based on the other Microprose themes. The X-Com scenario is a little disappointing in that there's no city development, just an out-and-out scrap between army units. The Master of Orion game is better, and the normal game theme translates quite well as you get used to building (for example) aquaducts in place of biospheres. The best of the three is the Master of Magic scenario where the research corresponds to the different lines of magic. Unfortunately you can't cast spells, and so while it's certainly fun to play this variant of the game you'll likely end up wishing you were instead playing the real game (hey Microprose, just where is Master of Magic 2?).
Each scenario has conditions for victory or defeat, often just total conquest. Each of the original 11 is distinct, most of them offering (complete) new tech trees and units. The most bizarre and my own favourite is Jules Verne World where you have to conquest or reach the moon first (rather than Alpha Centurai) - by exploration you can unearth strange new techs and create such things as Martian war machines! Played out on a world map this scenario stands out from the rest for creativity and imagination.
The rest of the 11 are Age of Reptiles (play with dinosaurs and your research is evolutionary advances like spiked tails - attack with velociraptors and T-rex units!), Atlantis (based on the lost world and using secret discoveries), Ice Planet (set in the future, all techs and units are new), Mars Now!, Mythic History of Midgard (a more of a D&D; style game with elves and the like), New World (a "colonial" game where balloons are used for transport) and Samurai (battle with ninjas). There's no real duffers in this pack, for which Microprose should be applauded. I have only found one design bug - the dinosaur scenario has one unit with no graphic, so all branchiosaurus units are invisible!
The new scenarios have new music tracks, and there are now 24 tracks to be heard, including the X-Com theme. The weird thing is that each will play in any scenario, so you might get the X-Com theme in the Jules Verne game. However you also lose out a bit as the Fantastic Worlds CD has no diplomatic heralds or Wonder videos, though I'd guess most people turn these off after playing for a while. Variety in play is increased a little by the new ".alt" maps - these mean each game can potentially have alternative starting positions, and one of these is picked at random. This is something you can use in your own scenario design (more later).
While the above game themes can't directly be used on a "random" game (as per the normal full Civilization game) you can get a random game with any of the new themes by copying all bar the special rules file to a new directory, starting a "normal" random game, saving it to that directory and then reloading it. Trouble is if you rely on special techs at startup for the game to play through properly (as with the Master of Magic scenario) you won't get them and thus the game falls flat (as to have an "open" game you don't use the special rules). Likewise if you happen to get a "filler" tribe from a scenario. But it is possible, just about.
The new editor is great - you can edit such things as tech advances (setting pre-requisites, icons, whether they're civilised or military, and what importance the AI should put on them), city improvements (e.g. icon, cost, prerequisite), terrain, AI behaviour for tribes, and units (6 sounds, icon, special abilities). There is a nice library of icons to help the artisticly impaired. The one thing that is fixed are city improvement effects - you can't edit these directly, so the "granary effect" is always the same. What you can now do is set up events as triggers and actions. In a simple case the trigger might be "it's turn 16" and the action be "display this text". But you can also do things like "if Rome falls and the attacker is anyone and the defender the Romans then give tribe X technology Y". Or you can create units as an action, or change terrain somewhere, or play a .wav sound file. There's plenty to play around with. When added to the decent number of good scenarios, the Fantastic Worlds addon is quite attractive.
I'm not usually that taken by addon packs, but if you want to revisit Civ II then Fantastic Worlds is as good a way to do it as any. Alternatively you can scour the net for scenarios, but the ones presented here are of a decent quality. I still find a traditional "open" game of Civ II to be the best but if you want something a little different then Fantastic Worlds is worth a shot. It isn't just more of the same and the editor, while still not as user-friendly as it might be, does allow for a good deal of creativity. Meanwhile strategy players are left to bemoan the lack of any real competition to Civ II in the "global conquest" genre. The King is getting old, it's about time some new princes showed their faces...
Review By GamesDomain
Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds is an addon for Sid Meier's Civilization II, you will need the original game to play.
How to play Civilization II: Fantastic Worlds Windows 3.x
To install the add-on, you must have already installed "Sid Meier's Civilization II" of any version (with or without the first add-on). After installing Sid Meier's Civilization II and before the add-on is automatically installed, it is recommended to install patch 2.42 for CIV2.
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