The New New World – Civ 4: Colonization Reviewed

There's no way of telling it's based on Civ 4, is there?

My write-up of the official remake of one of my all-time favourite strategy games is in the current issue of PC Gamer UK, and now also on the magic internet. While a solid and largely faithful remake, the game wasn’t quite what I was hoping it would be, so I’m expecting outraged folk to shout at me and email a death threat or two because I didn’t score it 98% any day now.

Here’s a quote for the road:

Life is good to old Kingy. He’s fine whether or not he gets my money, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it. He’s the bully at school you can’t touch because he’s the headmaster’s son, the seedy politician who never quite gets thrown out of office because his wife is friends with the Prime Minister’s wife. He’s unstoppable.


  1. Ragnar says:

    It sounds a bit like how I felt about the Railroad Tycoon remake (called Sid Meier’s Railroads or something like that) from Firaxis. It had lost a bit of the charm I was used to. I’ll probably buy the new Colonization anyway. I have been playing the old one quite a bit lately.

  2. Heliocentric says:

    Maybe they can patch the soul back in and make the game complete? Or the personality is being held back for an expansion. I jest, but i wanted this game to be something i never really expected it to be. Does this game have anything of slavery or abuse of natives? I guess an easy mod would be playing as the natives against the rich advanced and disease spreading colonists. Ah to be american eh?

  3. spd from Russia says:

    is it out already?

  4. Nallen says:

    Certain aspects have had corners cut in the name of making it all fit within the Civilization IV engine: there are definite annoyances for old Colonization hands here.

    Come on then, what are they?!

  5. Nezz says:

    What does lift this above its progenitor is multiplayer. There’s an old complaint about the original that none of the AI-controlled nations in the game are chasing independence themselves. While that’s to the benefit of making you the hero, it’s great to finally have some direct competition.

    A bit confusing. So do the AIs chase independence now? Or was that just a remark about multiplayer?

  6. Shamanic Miner says:

    I’ve been playing the original on Dosbox, still a great game. No mention in the review if the music is the same, I’ve been whistling shanties all week :)

  7. Mara says:

    A Civilization getting under 80% score? Blasphemy!

  8. G says:

    I assume you still can’t bring over a load of slaves in it, but you can kill all the native Americans. If this is the case its saying its ok to be able to simulate historical mistreatment of one group of people in a game but not another.

  9. Ian says:

    As someone who has never played Colonization before, would you recommend just skipping the remake and going for the original? I was looking forward to playing the remake as i missed out on this gem this first time around, but your review is pretty meh.

  10. The Sombrero Kid says:

    eurogamer review was pretty glowing

  11. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Daddy’s home, but he’s not smiling.


  12. Alec Meer says:

    Ian – it’s kind of much of a muchness. This one’s less of a headache to play due to interface improvements, but the older one’s more characterful. Fundamentally it’s the same experience, but you may woo-hoo a little more often in the older one.

  13. onkellou says:

    ” You’d struggle to identify this remake out of a line-up featuring Anno 1404, Rise of Nations and Age of Empires”

    Hm, not sure I agree with that – I wish the game looked like any of those rather than exactly like Civ IV again! :)

    Not that Civ IV is bad-looking, I just grew a bit tired of its looks after hundreds of hours, and your conclusion that all in all it feels more like a mod than a game of its own is rather off-putting for me.

  14. much2much says:

    Very flowery review. Reminds me of Machiavelli. I think you should be banished too.

  15. maxmcg says:

    What’s with the curved brown panel taking up the entire lower half of the screen?

    Still buying the shit out of this btw.

  16. Mark says:

    Looks like you’re missing a Z in the title.

  17. Libuke says:

    “Looks like you’re missing a Z in the title.”

    I thought S is fine, it is how I spell it.

  18. pepper says:

    Opensource remake:

    link to

    Although this sounds interesting too! I never really got into the civ games though.

  19. RichPowers says:

    @Ragnar: I pray to the gaming gods that Civ: Col is nothing like Railroads. The later is an insult to thinking gamers everywhere, taking a great concept and simplifying it to pointlessness. Railroads and CivCity Rome collectively took a dump all over Sid’s name.

  20. sinister agent says:

    I assume you still can’t bring over a load of slaves in it, but you can kill all the native Americans.

    “Indentured servants” can also be a synonym, y’know.

  21. Nimic says:

    “eurogamer review was pretty glowing”

    I just read it, and yeah, it definitely made me want to play the game. It’s interesting though, that the Eurogamer reviewer gave it 8/10, and Alec Meer gave it 7.9/10, yet his review made the game seem like something to buy if you’re particularly interested.

  22. Heliocentric says:

    That 0.1 makes all the difference. All hail granularity.

  23. Dreamhacker says:

    So, the most important question: Is there simultaneous turns for multiplayer?

  24. JonFitt says:

    So what would be the verdict for someone who fondly remembers the original and played it again less than a year ago?

    I am looking forward to the interface upgrades that a Civ4 rendition would bring to movement and zones of control (Colonization is basically Civ 1.5).

    It will be a shame it the atmosphere is gone, does it still have the continental congress room where you see all your dudes even if they are quasi-portraits now?

    How is the city screen? I liked the way it used to look a bit ornamented with fences and tufts of grass. You were putting people into boxes, but the boxes felt like buildings with a bit of character.

    Mostly I liked the way you were dealing with individuals over abstract 10,000s of population. Every master craftsman was an important addition to your colony and he would produce a notable effect.

  25. JonFitt says:

    “I just read it, and yeah, it definitely made me want to play the game. It’s interesting though, that the Eurogamer reviewer gave it 8/10, and Alec Meer gave it 7.9/10, yet his review made the game seem like something to buy if you’re particularly interested.”

    Quick someone call the NWML, I don’t think their scale is properly calibrated. I put a Dikatana on there (SI=0/10) and it came out 2.5/10.

    If we don’t act fast people will be unable to directly compare subjective opinion. Chaos.

  26. JonFitt says:

    “So, the most important question: Is there simultaneous turns for multiplayer?”

    I liked this in Civ4. The wife and I played some Co-op games and it worked well.

    How well does it work competitively?
    Wouldn’t it be a bit like an RTS? If you’re trying to catch my unit out in the open, and I’m trying to get him out of the way? Or you’re trying to cap a city and I’m trying to get some more defenders in there?

  27. Nimic says:

    I like simultaneous turns. Then again, I only play for fun with my cousin, and we work together. Can’t see it working too well competitively. I just hope they at least keep the feature, and I can’t see them not.

  28. Pijama says:

    Mr. Meer, I think you reviewed it with the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia. Something to do with your broken heart I suppose? :\

  29. thesombrerokid says:

    it’s about the publcation, it’s well known that with pc gamer only the 80%+ are worth playing unless you’re particularly interested, but with eurogamer 8/10 is only 2 points from the top you know it’s what most good games get, really good games get 9 & amazing games get 10.

  30. G says:

    “Indentured servants” can also be a synonym, y’know.

    Indentured servants in theory had contracts and got paid, but often in such a way so they could not leave. A subtle difference in many cases.

  31. Schadenfreude says:

    I’m sure I read somewhere that when you put together your Declaration of Independance one of the options is whether to support or condemn slavery, with certain bonuses to your colonies depending on what you chose.

    Think that and “Indentured Servants” are the extent of it though. Unless you hear a few bars of Old Man River when you click on a cotton plantation…

  32. MetalCircus says:

    I will play this, mainly because I suck Sid Meiers cock, but also because it’s a colonilization remake!

  33. malkav11 says:

    Slavery was an inherited condition – the children of slaves were slaves. Indentured servants might be very close to being slaves, but their children didn’t inherit the indenture. Or so I understood it.

    Plus, indentured servants were generally considered to be people.

  34. Janto says:

    My own impression of the 18th British century ‘System’ was that indentured servants were debtors who were theoretically working to pay off their debt, but were often shafted into permanent indenture by having to pay interest or some such, and that debts were most definitely inherited by the kids. Still the way it works in places like India, I believe there’s more people who are technically ‘slaves’ alive now than ever before.

  35. Kakrafoon says:

    Wow! Usually, the animated leader portraits in the Civ 4 engine and generally in Sid Meyer’s later work are cartoonish and funny, but when I first saw evil mad old King George, accompanied by that graveyard version of Rule Britannia, the vibrations my spine produced by shivering could have been heard up and down the street I live in. So impressive how he rolls his malicious bloodshot eyes! The French King, on the other hand, looks just like a benevolent but bewildered uncle and, incidentally, a bit like my girlfriend’s dad if he was wearing a ridiculous hairdo.

    Aside from that: Outstanding game, perfectly captures the feeling of the original, in my opinion.

  36. Larington says:

    Music lacks the charm of the originals despite using proper instruments, maybe small orchestra renditions of the old games tunes would help a fair bit.

    Encountered the following issues – Terrain randomisation on ‘play now’ option are somewhat random, its not uncommon for huge areas of ocean to be near your starting area, or for the other colonial empires starting far too close to your position. Actually, I’d like to be able to configure the number of land-masses and amount of sea/ocean in the map.

    Also, I should be able to re-generate the map as long as I haven’t created my first colony, sort of like in standard civ but lasts beyond turn 1.

    Its really fucking annoying when another empire comes along and builds a town right on your border, sure its trying to take advantage of the over-ride my territory through independence rating function, but I wonder if its taken to an extreme.

    Its really fucking annoying when a native group declares war on you with literally no warning (Having to go and look at the relationship info screen like a paranoid android does NOT count) – at least in the original if you were upsetting the locals they’d come up and tell you a few times first, I’ve just lost a town I was setting up because as far as I could tell no one was planning to attack me, not to mention this whole fecking ‘raise it to the ground thing’ that AI loves to do soooo much.

    In the town screen I should be able to right click on soldiers and colonists in the small ‘outside the walls’ box so I can change one from soldier to dragoon without having to exit out the screen and select the unit and change its type at that interface element.

    I’d like to be able to play a longer term game without the production quantities (etc) being increased to match.

    The kings are way too quick to start wacking up the tax rate (In one case I kissed pinky ring for tax increase on one turn, then literally the next turn he demanded I give him cash in addition to the tax hike, no king is that stupid, really), and the ‘give me money now’ demands seem daft because there doesn’t appear to be much penalty for saying no to those. I also find myself questioning how permanent a boycott should be.

    Anyway, the core of it is there but I’m finding there are a number of annoyances in the design and things that were in the original that shouldn’t have been left out (particularly the we’re not happy with what you’re doing with the land, but if you share your food we’ll overlook it for now warnings.