Civilization II: Multiplayer Gold Edition
Windows - 1998
Also available on: Mac
Description of Civilization II: Multiplayer Gold Edition
Brian Reynolds Rising
There is no doubt that this is a fantastic time for Brian Reynolds fans. Microprose has recently released Civ2 Multiplayer Gold, a multiplayer version of the classic game that made Brian a widely-recognized name in the gaming industry, and it's likely that by the time you read this we'll be seeing the full retail release of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, a "Brian Reynolds Design" that picks up where Civilization 2 left off. Having just wrapped up involvement with the Alpha Centauri beta program only a week or so before receiving my copy of Civ2 Gold for this review, I found it impossible not to compare the two in great detail. While this is supposed to be a review of Civ2 Gold and not a preview or review of Alpha Centauri, I'll warn you right now that I don't think I'll be able to discuss Civ2 Gold without mentioning the game that many people think of as "Civilization 3". In the end, though, there are no real losers in this comparison - it's a great blessing to strategy gamers everywhere (and perhaps a big problem for their employers and spouses) that both of these games hold up so very well.
Having heard plenty of words like "ugly" and "fiasco" (and several not fit for a family publication) used to describe the original CivNet multiplayer adaptation, I was a little concerned when I popped open my copy of Civilization 2 Multiplayer Gold. Loyal Civ2 fans need not worry, however - in addition to the full single-player game and both expansion packs, Civ2 Gold contains a very stable and playable multiplayer component. I'll try to focus on the multiplayer aspects, since Civ2 Gold in single-player mode is essentially still just a very clean and very complete version of the strategy game that GDR's strategy editor Tim Chown once called "the best PC strategy game that money can buy". Two years later it's still an excellent bargain.
Far and away most important thing to note about the Civ2 Gold Multiplayer edition is that it is still very much a turn-based game. When you play a game of multiplayer Civ2, you will take turns in fullest sense: there will be a period of time when you are not able to move your units because you are waiting for the other players to move theirs. While you wait you can tinker with production, plan your research efforts, and/or raise and lower your taxes. Any changes you make won't take effect until later, however, because in your empire things only really happen on your turn.
Somewhat surprisingly, this works out pretty well. I played a large number of multiplayer games on a LAN and found that for three players or fewer you rarely find yourself watching the timer and waiting for your turn. Before long you grow accustomed to moving your units during your turn and handling everything else - including diplomacy - during someone else's. Civilization is such a complex game world that there is almost always something useful to look at or do while you are waiting. It's a slightly different story as you add more human competitors - with four players you may start to find yourself idle for a few seconds between your turns at bat, and with a full seven human players the game may seem a little slow (depending on the time limit) for the impatient gamers among us. When I did find myself becoming a little restless I usually came to the conclusion that, well . . . I could really find something worthwhile to do like spending a little extra time in the Civilopedia to figure out what sorts of research would get me to that next crucial Wonder of the world. (In a challenging game filled with human players, every moment you spend in planning between turns usually pays off.) All in all, the turn system works well enough that it's renewing my interest in the multiplayer aspects of Heroes of Might and Magic III, which is allegedly going to have a turn-based system very similar to the one found in Civ2 Gold.
When I say that Civilization is a complex game world, though, it's definitely a relative sort of complexity. Victory in Civ2 sometimes involves the launch of a spaceship - a spaceship that in some senses flies right out of your game of Civilization 2 and right into a game of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. While Alpha Centauri bears a family resemblance to its predecessor and may not represent a four light-year leap beyond the gameplay found in Civ2 Gold, it is a substantial evolutionary leap indeed. Anyone who doesn't believe me should spend some time in the Alpha Centauri system and then try a return trip to planet Earth - you'll realize just how much you've changed since you've been away.
We're Not In Kansas Anymore
In some respects Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is one of the most ambitious multiplayer strategy games ever released. Unlike Civ2 Gold, Alpha Centauri was built from the ground up to be a multiplayer game. It offers up a host of gameplay enhancements and a wide variety of fresh design elements while at the same time allowing all players to take their turns simultaneously. (This is somewhat similar to the simultaneous-turn mode employed in Warlords III.) So even the though the game is considerably more complex than Civilization 2 - you'll find yourself dealing with 3D terrain, a complex sociological model and custom unit designs, among other things - you'll find yourself waiting even less in multiplayer mode than you would in a game of Civ2 Gold. I can only imagine how much more intricate the programming model must be for a game design of this complexity.
After playing many hours of Alpha Centauri, Civilization2 Gold Multiplayer seems a little bit like "strategy lite". Lite or not, though, Civilization 2 in multiplayer mode is still a lot of fun. The multiplayer-specific portions of the interface are pretty basic, but they are solid and they work right out of the box. Saving and loading works for multiplayer games, and if the host crashes then the AI takes over the player slot and server duties are passed on to someone else. You can also re-load the game at any time and swap a human in for AI players, which means that someone who crashes (and has the AI take over for him) has a chance to join back in right away. About the only really negative thing that can be said of the multiplayer suite is that it doesn't spawn - each human participant will have to shell out $29.95 (US) for his or her own copy of the game. Considering the included expansion packs and the excellent single-player value, though, that's still worth the price of admission. Internet play is sponsored on the MSN Gaming Zone - I haven't played on the net but when I checked the site it was midnight (west coast, USA) and there were at least 20 people still playing.
Since Alpha Centauri was designed to be a multiplayer game from the very beginning, I found its multiplayer suite to have nearly every option I could possibly want. There were many instances in playing Civ2 where I found myself missing the features and functionality I enjoyed in Civ2 's heir to the strategy throne. Perhaps the best example I could point to in comparing Civ2 Gold and SMAC is the multiplayer negotiating screen - I found the Civ 2 interface workable but a little difficult to use, while the analogous screen in SMAC is far and away the best negotiation screen I've seen in any multiplayer strategy game, bar none. Have you ever hesitated to trade technologies in a game of Master of Orion 2 because you didn't know who was getting the better end of the deal? In Civ2 you'll still have to refer to your tech chart to figure out who's taking advantage of who, but in Alpha Centauri all of the crucial information is presented in such a way that you can make those tricky trading decisions in only a second or two. In convincingly launching deep strategy into deep space, SMAC manages to overcome almost every nagging shortcoming I encountered in multiplayer turn-based sci-fi strategy games like Master of Orion 2 and Deadlock.
Civ2 Multiplayer Gold and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri are both games every strategy enthusiast should own. If you've never purchased Civ2 or own the original version and are interested in the expansion scenarios or the multiplayer capabilities, Civ2 Multiplayer Gold is definitely a good buy. Civ2 Multiplayer Gold ably resurrects a classic strategy game of the past, and in doing so paves the way for an equally monumental strategy game of the future. If you see them sitting side by side on the shelf and can only afford one, well then you obviously weren't listening - you should own them both. If you really can only afford one, though - and this is "off the record" because I'm not reviewing SMAC - you should find your answer somewhere in the night-time sky.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Akshay 2021-01-05 0 point Windows version
While I respect whoever added this version here, I had crashes and bugs with this version. The only version I found which works on Windows 10 without any extra work is here - https://gamesnostalgia.com/game/sid-meiers-civilization-ii
I used the 17.75 Mb version from the above link and all I had to do was extract the archive, that's it.
AngriffWurst 2020-05-17 3 points Windows version
Game works great as it did all those years ago.
Anyone figure out how to get the music to work?
medvednick 2018-02-09 1 point
I have launched it with emulator from other than T2 link. Works like a charm on my macOS 10.13.
1. Install Mac OS 9 app from here: http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/macos9osx.html
2. Transfer Civilization 2 Gold.toast file (no need to unarchive .toast, only zip) by dragging the file to icon of Mac OS 9
3. Install the game
4. Launch from Mac OS 9's application folder
wannaplayciv2 2016-12-22 -2 points
Having same problem, managed to get files into the shared folder etc but when I'm running the application it appears to start but then I just get an 'error 3'..help..
poctic 2016-09-04 4 points
ok, i got this to work. they key is getting the right files in the right places, working til it functions. thanks T2.
Shared Civ Toast, Installer, Civ II Gold
Civ II Gold Civ II Files, other files in civ 2 gold folder
poctic 2016-09-04 1 point
Thanks to T2 for the advice on set up. i followed it, but got the same error message "Could not find a translation extension with appropriate translators" as other commenters. I did open the Toast folder in OS X, then move the files to Shared folder.
When i tried installing the Civ II Gold update, i got a file not found error: Civilization II Gold. When i try opening Civ II Gold Rel PPC, i get a similar error that this file needs to be in the same folder as the Civilization II application. i don't see any file like that in the zip folder, so i am a bit lost.
Mark 2016-08-23 0 point
T2's instructions do work. But at first Civilisation II Gold.toast is an archive that needs to be opened in the OS X environment - the contents then go in the user/shared folder.
scoob 2016-04-20 2 points
Retro Gamer, I'm getting the same error message. Did you figure out how to get around it?
Retro Gamer 2016-01-12 0 point
The error i'm getting is: Could not find a translation extension with appropriate translators.
iggy 2015-09-13 1 point
followed these instructions but the game is quitting after initially loading up, saying that there is a type 3 error. any ideas?
T2 2015-04-22 12 points Mac version
HP, I installed it last night and it runs beautifully. Everything you need is there, including the old scenarios I remember. You do need to ensure you have an emulator running OS 9 for it to open. None of these old games will run on OS X. The one I used is this one: http://jon.brazoslink.net/jlg/COIV4.0.1+.zip
There's more info about it here (http://www.macwindows.com/Emulator-for-Mac-OS-9-in-OS-X-updated-for-Mountain-Lion.html), but essentially it's the simplest way to get OS 9 up and running on your modern Mac. Once it's running, just open the Civilisation II Gold.toast file and move the contents to the users/shared folder on your Mac. Open up the emulator, click on the Unix drive, and you'll see Civ there. Just double click and you're away.
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