Why do the franchise's veterans love Alpha Centauri ?

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by Magean, May 20, 2014.

  1. Magean

    Magean Prince

    Aug 7, 2009

    I'm relatively new to the Civ franchise, having only started playing with Civ IV BTS.
    I've often seen SMAC referred to as the jewel of the series, even more so now that BE has been announced.

    So I'd like to know, why do you rusty veterans love Alpha Centari so much ? When I read your posts, it seems to me that this game had both a genius' gameplay, and an extremely convincing background universe.

    Could you please tell me more ? And do you think Firaxis is trying to revive the venerable ancestor with Civ : BE ?

    Thanks for your answers

    EDIT : I hadn't seen this article ( http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/05/20/civilization-beyond-earth-impressions-interview/ ), on the relationship between BE and SMAC, yet the question of the success of SMAC remains...
  2. MountainTiger

    MountainTiger Chieftain

    Aug 14, 2010
    SMAC has a lot of things going for it. I would recommend grabbing it off of gog.com and seeing for yourself.

    If you want my opinion, though, a couple of things stand out:

    1. It treats complex and controversial moral questions in a way that encourages the player to think about them. The faction leaders play an important role, with their quotes for techs, buildings, and projects presenting contradictory visions of what the future of humanity should be and the player left to decide who, if anyone, is right.

    2. Social engineering (basically, a more modular approach to Civ IV's civics) was a massive leap forward from Civ II's system of choosing your government from a list, and the way that different options interact with each other and with each faction's bonuses and penalties remains a high point in the series.
  3. TheGrumpyBuddha

    TheGrumpyBuddha King

    Aug 8, 2013
    Alpha Centauri had *weight* to it -- between the awesome videos and the awesome sound files, you got the sense of a distinct world.

    Ignore the horrible background music and have fun:


    Listen to his description of the Genejack, starting at 49 seconds ...

    "how can you tyrannize someone who cannot feel pain?"
    "Is life so fragile that it can withstand no tampering?"
    "I maintain nonetheless that yin-yang dualism can be overcome ... mind without body, north without south, pleasure without pain ..."

    Ah, these have no dumb background music:


    AND IN THIS, starting at 3:20. My favorite quote from the game:


    We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?
    ---Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7. Activity recorded M.Y. 2302.22467. (TERMINATION OF SPECIMEN ADVISED)
  4. Aeson

    Aeson orangesoda Retired Moderator

    Nov 16, 2001
    I've been playing SMAX the last few days and it holds up remarkably well. The factions have personality, your units can be designed the way you like, the gameplay has tremendous variability to it, Planet is a major factor.

    There are downsides. The AI is almost useless. There's some wildly unbalanced game mechanics ... but it's all still very fun.

    I doubt I could go back to II or III ... but SMAX still elicits "one more turn" ... moreso for me than when I first started playing V even.
  5. Lheim

    Lheim Chieftain

    Dec 27, 2010
    The gameplay, aside of a few tweaks, was pretty standard Civ-2 era gameplay. That isn't bad, actually - Civ 2 was a great game. It might feel a little archaic to somebody new to the series, though.

    But.. yeah, I'll echo the people here talking about the game's character. AC oozed character. The factions were unique personalities, the atmosphere was eerie and alienesque; it did it quite well.

    Still worth picking up on GoG, just to listen to the tech voiceovers as you play the game. Yowza.
  6. DatCivi

    DatCivi Chieftain

    May 19, 2014
    If I still had my copy of SMAC, I would gladly ship it to you. It is an amazing game because it is deep and sensible. My experience is that the game-play had a vastly different feeling from faction to faction, like Lheim said. Each had unique personalities, traits that sometimes made them very annoying (oh, the believers' leader... how was she called? Mirina? I hated her and sometimes played as believer just to not have to deal with her) and the storyline was very well made. Remarkable, indeed.
  7. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Nov 20, 2011
    To clarify: the core storyline was well-made. Alien Crossfire was the most derivative form of space opera rubbish from the opening cinematic and 'advanced terraforming gone wrong' trope to the 'help, we're the last survivors of our races, both trapped on an unstable planet. I know! Let's blow each other up!" that the aliens' plot amounted to.
  8. Kissamies

    Kissamies Prince

    Oct 20, 2005
    No other Civ or Civ-derived game has as much soul. Gameplay's good too.
  9. I was NC

    I was NC Chieftain

    Jun 6, 2013
    Another reason is it was, oddly enough, more believable. For example you didn't have to pretend the Zulus fought the Japanese. In the future, on Planet, nothing had already happened.
  10. shooter6947

    shooter6947 Scientist Specialist

    Apr 28, 2003
    Moscow, Idaho
    What I really loved about it was that so much is dynamic. You can raise or lower the land, for instance, and the rainfall and biomes change. You can raise or lower the sea level. You can design and build your own units based on your needs at the time -- not just building the same stuff game after game.
  11. CleverFool

    CleverFool Warlord

    Aug 19, 2010
    Edmonton, Alberta
    As per other comments, the faction leaders really stood out. Even the little quips and insults they'd throw at you really represented their viewpoints.

    I also like it because it's a fairly dark game overall (tone-wise). The factions all represent the best and worst of ideologies on earth, and take them to a real extreme. Combined with the man eating space worms and you can't go wrong...
  12. DatCivi

    DatCivi Chieftain

    May 19, 2014
    AND you could build cities on the water. How cool was that? :smoke:
  13. sendos

    sendos Immortal

    Aug 12, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia
    Arguably, SMAC is the most diverse civ game ever. All that content-- the storyline, the videos, the projects, the units--made SMAC at least the 2nd or 3rd best civ game. It's perhaps even better than civ 4.

    Civbe is pretty much a synthesis of civ 5 and SMAC so the game is really appealing to SMAC and civ 5 fans.

    Whether this game has any appeal to civ 4 fans, I don't know.
  14. ptoss1

    ptoss1 King

    Jun 22, 2012
    Personally, Alpha Centauri just sounds so much more badass than "Beyond Earth".
  15. alh_p

    alh_p Chieftain

    Jan 13, 2001
    Heart of darkness
    What's odd for me is that the devs consider BE to be more positive in outlook than SMAC (think they say it in the OP linked RPS article). When any 4X game usualy ultimately still comes down to genocide (if not of everyone else, then most), I'm not sure what the devs mean? SMAC was as positive and utopian as you wanted it to be - few are the 4X games of any type where some faction or other isn't killed.

    Furthermore, one of the strengths of SMAC's setting is that the factions are (mostly) freed of ethnic and cultural baggage - it really is all about policy and power, not accidents of fate. You only have to look at the threads here on the hackneyed stereotypes being used to derive BE's factions to see why SMAC's post nationalism is STILL refreshing. When there are relevant stereotypes (Yang, Morgan, Gaia), I'd argue that they are at least not the most obvious and are more convincingly justified in their context than most other games bother to try.

    Playing SMAC for the narrative can be like reading pretty good scifi. The writers of SMAC came up with some really engaging choices and developments with their futurology.

    Having played vanilla SMAC most, I'm still ambivalent about the Alien crossfire expansion - in particular the other non-planet Aliens. And frankly the ICS mechanic is a drag nowadays. Terraforming and the 3d map add interesting depth too, as well as being reasonably well integrated into politics (social engineering) and by extension diplomacy. I think the unit design feature has aged worse however, it was fun the first few times (years!) but there's not that much to learn (or real unit variants to bother with) after a while. It can be a chore updating everything but it does give you more of a sense of a long running arms race than I have found from Civ's unit progression. I could even go as far as to say that generations long (non-longevity vaccine ;)) Naval war has made me think of the WW2 eastern front tank arms race.
  16. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

    Sep 2, 2006
    I agree with a lot of what has been posted above. It had a great storyline, excellent design, post-national factions, at least as many dystopias as utopias if not more, all kinds of revolutionary gameplay mechanics like borders, advanced diplomatic options, and social engineering that would find their ways into later Civ series, and so on. The terraforming of Planet was also well-implemented and integrated into the tech tree, although forests were a bit too strong in the end.

    The other part of the game that really stuck out was how gritty the survival aspect could be, and how believable the tech tree was. Sure, you have some scifi stuff like lasers. But then you have techs like synthetic fossil fuels that basically give you a "finally, now we can do all the stuff we used to be able to do on Earth!" moment. Figuring out how to get back into the air and back into space are major advances in the game and it feels that way as you work your way through the tech tree.

    Sure, it wasn't perfect; ICS was still a problem, supply crawlers could be utterly broken if used correctly, artillery is not as useful as it could be, and the unit designer needed a better interface to keep up with your designs and upgrades.

    Speaking of youtube vids, check out the faction profiles:
  17. bhavv

    bhavv Glorious World Dictator

    Jun 13, 2006
    It was the best, most perfect 4x game.

    Enough said.
  18. Stigmatus

    Stigmatus Chieftain

    May 26, 2014
    AI Diplomacy
    Social Engeneering
    Mature themes and moral dilemmas
    AI Diplomacy
    AI Diplomacy
  19. Darthfrog

    Darthfrog Chieftain

    Apr 5, 2014
    Almost everything everybody else had to say is correct. (I disagree with the condemnation of the Alien Crossfire expansion: yes, it was not the equal of the original but it was an interesting idea in its own right).

    But what nobody has said so far is that it is just sheer fun to play. If Firaxis had regained the property rights to "Alpha Centauri" and had re-released it exactly as is but with updated, modern graphics there would be much joy in Mudville.

    And please stomp Miriam every chance you get.
  20. Talcove

    Talcove Slayer of Spies

    Apr 23, 2013
    Everything that everybody else said, all amplified by the fact that it was taken away from them as a franchise, sent to an early grave by EA.

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