Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Civ III was the game that got me back into the Civilization series. Though, truth be told, I never got out of it – it’s just that the years without a new release happened to coincide with my time at university, where booze, unrequited crushes and PlayStation fighting games occupied almost my entire mind. Even once I fell into a job which involved computer games, in its earliest years I was still clinging onto vague and misguided ideas of social acceptability, and so the big shooting game of the moment tended to be my main focus. When a colleague and friend took on the Civ III review and waxed lyrical about it, I openly mocked him for it. Civ was so nerdy. History? Turn-based? That’s so uncool, man. Never mind that most of my youth had been defined by playing historical and/or turn-based strategy games.
My mockery was water off a duck’s back. He was slightly older, and Understood. Instead, he passed me a copy of the game a few days later. Never one to turn down a free game at that early stage of my “career”, I took it home, installed and… Well, you know how this story ends. It’s how every story involving starting to play a Civilization game ends.
Civ III’s sort of the forgotten Civ. It didn’t start the series, it doesn’t have the infamy of the Civ II/Civ: Call To Power twin sequel rights argy-bargy, and it didn’t have the rapture that surrounded Civ IV’s double-whammy of 3D and meaningfully refreshing the formula. Civ III was the last of the classic Civilizations, and that means it carries a certain bunker mentality air of just trying to be an elaborate, slow and very, very computer game-y historical strategy title. There’s not even the slightest attempt to be, as my irksome 2001 self might put it, cool. And that makes me extremely fond of it, even to this day.