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Old Jan 22, 2006, 08:47 PM   #1
cjcerny
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Civ 4 vs. Alpha Centauri/Alien Crossfire

I recently had the fortune (or maybe the misfortune) to acquire Civ 4 and AC/AC in the same week; one was a gift--the other a purchase. Knowing how all consuming they can be, I just don't have room in my schedule for two all-consuming games. So, my brain gets to thinking...Civ 4, being the newer of the two, has got to be a more refined gamed, encompassing the experiences and knowledge of what was missing from AC/AC. In other words, I'm thinking that if one has to go, it should be AC/AC. Am I correct in thinking that C4 is a more refined game and is, in fact, a superset of AC/AC? Or are they totally different paradigms, each with their own assets and shortcomings? If I only have time for one, should it be Civ 4?
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Old Jan 22, 2006, 09:21 PM   #2
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Lots of other people around here can speak much more knowledgably about SMAC than I can. I played it for a month or two and thought it was a brilliantly designed and strategically deep, but rather boring game. I like the historical elements of Civ, even though the game doesn't attempt to be a perfect simulation. SMAC just didn't grab me in the same way, even though it was clearly better game-wise than Civ2. I don't remember SMAC too well anymore, but I think Civ4 compares pretty favorably with it in terms of mechanics and strategy, and has a better all-around feel in terms of graphics, sound, and historical reference. If in doubt, just fire them both up and see which appeals to you more. You don't have to play up to the highest levels and invest lots of hours to get a feel for the games.
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Old Jan 22, 2006, 10:21 PM   #3
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I never got the Alien Crossfire expansion but I did play SMAC, and enjoyed it until the end of the game when the fungus would destroy two or three improvements per turn and I had to sit and watch my cities/units get attacked by a hundred indiginous lifeforms at the beginning of every turn. It got boring really quickly at that point.

I personally would say Civ 4, but thats my opinion.
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Old Jan 22, 2006, 10:39 PM   #4
absurdly
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The ability to control multiple factors of government in AC is nice, and I think that was a step ahead of Civ 2/3. Civ 4 has a similar setup . Psi is an interesting addition too, but the ability to customize units in AC is nice. Civ 4 is probably a better game overall, but AC is nice to fool around with after you've been playing Civ 4 all day and are about to cry because of Isabella.
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Old Jan 22, 2006, 11:32 PM   #5
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SMAC and XFire are brilliant games.

I played the hell out of them - although very rarely til the bitter end. SMAC seemed to suffer from the CIV end game tedium more than any other game in the family (unless you count those horrible CTP games).

I just wish there was a way to lobotomize the damn Planet.


I am currently enjoying CIV quite a bit. I really like being able to play online, as no SP experience ever comes close to a good MP game.

As to which is better....

Give me a few months to burn out on CIV. It isn't fair to compare the two yet. A new girlfriend is always more exciting than your old one at first.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 12:20 AM   #6
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I think the only reason I wouldn't go back to SMAC is for the damn city riots. Now that I only have to worry about losing production and not getting the damn rioting popups for 5 cities every turn I don't know if I can go back
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 02:00 AM   #7
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I quite liked the level of customization in SMAC with the units and factions. Guess it would be difficult to see how you could add it into Civ and some players got quite intimidated by it. I always sent sea formers to sink enemy cities, you can do more with terraforming, like raise/lower terrain, tap water sources, etc.

Still there is alot more to Civ4 than SMAC. Plus, the native lifeforms and fungus were a pain most of the time. More so towards the end game and in CrossFire.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 02:43 AM   #8
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Play Civ 4 and when you win a space race victory, play SMAC. Renaming your Faction as the civ you just won win
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 02:57 AM   #9
ellie
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Hmm i played SMAC and alien crossfire to death played a fair bit of PBEM as well.

Very deep game, but many are put off because the techs seem meaningless and it looks horrible.

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Civ 4: Just started my first proper game after numerous problems getting it to work (was crashing after 30 or so turns) : Noble diff, archip map..ill no doubt have a better idea of what i think of it after playing more, starting to like it i think.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 04:02 AM   #10
Gazglum
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I would say that SMAC is just a better game, period. They're both good, and I like to alternate between Civ games and Alpha Centauri games, but I think that gameplay wise SMAC is better. For me, the main drawback is the drabness. It's refreshing at first to see a truly alien alien world, but after a couple of games in a row it really becomes annoying, whereas I never tire of the happy bright terrain of the Civ series.

A lot of people think the technologies are 'meaningless', but if you're a science fiction fan they are the best part of the game. The technologies of Alpha Centauri are the most realistic look at the future I have ever come across, and the more science you know the more interesting they are. The system of choosing a general path rather than a specific technology is more realistic than Civ games, which I like. I never really had a problem learning the SMAC tech tree, but be warned that a lot of people do.

For me, the area where the basic design most improves on Civ is in the pace of new units. Civ has to conform to reality, so powerful navies must wait till the mid game, and a lot of games never really see aircraft at all. SMAC unlocks the new unity types at a perfect speed, so by the second half of the game you already can have a combined force of land, see and air troops. Navies are more important than in Civ too, because of sea colonies. Oh, and SMAC planet busters are just much much more fun than Civ nukes. Much more fun.

Also, the wonder movies of SMAC blow Civ's away. Whereas in Civ IV I skip the wonder movies when they come up, in SMAC I happily rewatch them over and over.

Of course, when it comes to AI sophistication, interface and the like Civ IV is going to be automatically better because its so much more recent. Depends how much you care about that stuff.

Anyway, you can get all sorts of advice on the forums, but if you have them both then play them both. After a week or so, decide which you prefer. It would be silly to hold two such gems of the strategy genre and not even try one of them.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 04:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazglum
Oh, and SMAC planet busters are just much much more fun than Civ nukes. Much more fun.
Nothing beats a singularity planet buster.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 06:01 AM   #12
Rane Khan
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cIV is a great game, best of the Civs (Played II & III, can't say much about I other then that I have never played it ).

AC however is pretty much perfect. As Gazglum said; it didn't have to conform to the 'reality of human history', and therefor gave you a much more natural and streamlined gameplay. And the movies... Oh the movies.... I wish ciV (or AC2!) will have movies more like AC's, most never get old. I click away 90% of the cIV wonders already; boring. =/
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 06:13 AM   #13
carn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjcerny
I recently had the fortune (or maybe the misfortune) to acquire Civ 4 and AC/AC in the same week; one was a gift--the other a purchase. Knowing how all consuming they can be, I just don't have room in my schedule for two all-consuming games. So, my brain gets to thinking...Civ 4, being the newer of the two, has got to be a more refined gamed, encompassing the experiences and knowledge of what was missing from AC/AC. In other words, I'm thinking that if one has to go, it should be AC/AC. Am I correct in thinking that C4 is a more refined game and is, in fact, a superset of AC/AC? Or are they totally different paradigms, each with their own assets and shortcomings? If I only have time for one, should it be Civ 4?

I'm just playing SMAC a lot, because my new comp is in repair, so my opinion is rather current.

Play Civ4, till either you want a brake or you're comp wants an upgrade.

Then play SMAC. It is differently enough, both atmosphere and game mechanics to be a different game. It's especially fun for people like me, who waste hours thinking about where to place cities and cringe everytime they realize, there are unused areas - in SMAC just use you're optimal city pattern as cities can be placed on water nearly at start of game.


For those who have problems with fungus, you should have played gaians, in the end game, they like fungus spreading everywhere.

Carn

Edit to add: Maybe you should also ask this in a SMAC forum, there is a section in civfanatics in "other games" or so.
And AI is of course unable to handle SMAC game mechanics properly, especially stack damage, forest improvement, wonders, "caravans", spies and custom unit design. The game is wonder heavy, as 2/3 of them are no-brainers to build and the rest are still nice, as none ever expires.
Do not play arid, the comp simply does not seem to know, how to use forests.

Last edited by carn; Jan 23, 2006 at 06:19 AM.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 06:42 AM   #14
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You guys ever heard of Galactic Civilizations? I have only recently read about it and i have to say i'm impressed. The AI of the game is it's stonger aspect!
The sequel will be released on the 28th February i believe.

What does SMAC stand for?
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 06:54 AM   #15
ellie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlizzardGR
You guys ever heard of Galactic Civilizations? I have only recently read about it and i have to say i'm impressed. The AI of the game is it's stonger aspect!
The sequel will be released on the 28th February i believe.

What does SMAC stand for?
sid miers alpha centauri i believe.


Cant remember smac all that well to be honest, but i know i liked playing the sea-pirate guy ..gaah what was his name?
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 06:54 AM   #16
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If SMAC/XFIRE had a brain and if some of the broken parts were fixed I would gladly play it again. As it is, I won't.

SMAC = Sid Meier's Alpha Centuari (a Brian Reynolds' Design).
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 07:28 AM   #17
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Both CivIV and SMAC/SMAX are great games.

But all in all, if I had to vote, I vote SMAC the best of all

And SMAC had a lot of influence in CIV. Some of these influences came in Civ III, but mostly in a bad performance:

Terraformer - Worker: the concept of different units for settling and working is taken from SMAc, but in CIV III, you had only the "terraforming" choice of iirigating or mining , much better in CIV with cottages, windmills, lumbermills etc.

Crawlers - Colonies: The colony was another bad performed featere taken over from SMAC (working tiles outside the base radius). Sadly not adopted to Civ IV. I would have liked a Colony unit similar to the Smac Crawler which could work tiles outside of the city radius.

SMAC special abilities - promotions

Social Engeneering - Civs

Features of Civ IV and SMAC in comparison:

Graphics: Civ IV winner

Units: SMAC winner. Smac design workshop with special abilities and morale system versus promotions only

Strategy: SMAC winner. SMAC wins battles with strategy, CIV with number of troops.

Spionage: SMAC winner

Sea warfare: SMAC winner

Artillery concept: SMAC winner

Air warfare: SMAC winner (but this may be my personal opinion)

The factor of personal infliction is much bigger in SMAC. All You who post in the "I hate Montezuma/Isabella/Togukawa"-threads - try a Smac Game and learn about Yang, Miriam or Morgan than You really learn to HATE

All in all, Civ IV is much better then Civ III, which was the worst of the whole series, and also better than CIV II, but SMAC/SMAX, although "old", is still the TOP for me.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 07:34 AM   #18
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Sister Miriam...oh god. The bile would rise in my throat when I saw her. Yeh, SMAC's characterisation was far more effective than Civ, and that was without the advantage of all the historical details Civ can draw on for their leaders.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 08:05 AM   #19
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SMAC is a better game in my opinion, however I seldom play it anymore because of CIV4.
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Old Jan 23, 2006, 08:37 AM   #20
Harry Haller
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SMAC/SMACX is just such a great game, for all of the reasons that everyone else has mentioned. There is just so much more to do, from customizing units to terraforming to espionage to dealing with the alien lifeforms... Each of the factions has a really distinct set of starting advantage and disadvantages. The ability to customize your politics and economics goes well beyond Civ IV's "civics". The system for dealing with intercepting nukes ("planet busters") is far superior to the lame "SDI" in Civ IV, and if someone else is voted the "supreme leader" (equivalent to the diplomatic victory), you can choose to resist them by declaring war against all of the other civilizations. The governors for city production and workers allowed a lot of customization and fine-tuning of your ability to automate things.

I think that one reason that so many people were disapointed when Civ 3 came out was because they thought that it would incorporate more of the innovations from SMAC.

It's true that the color scheme is awful, but there is a mod for better colors.
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