Can you remember the first time you played a Civilization game, and what it was that got you hooked? Was it the exploration? Empire management? Warfare? Without a doubt this 4X series is a cornerstone of the strategy gaming world, and while Civilization VI is the most recent iteration, the mighty house of Meier has some amazing past entries worthy of celebration decades later.
From a nuke happy Gandhi to ‘just one more turn’ syndrome, the legacy of past Civ games remains influential across many parts of modern gaming culture. Civilization II – which was first released in 1996 – marks its 25th anniversary today (technically it’s on the 29th, but there’s no leap day this year). But its legacy is often tucked away between the landmark that was the first game, and the massive successes of later releases. Surprisingly it was not directly worked on by Sid Meier himself, but Civilization II still saw the series branch out as it took on new ideas from lead developers Brian Reynolds, Douglas Caspian-Kaufman, and Jeff Briggs.
Civilization II introduced many of the key features that would continue to be part of the series for generations: the isometric map, river mechanics, new units, and generally it made lots of quality of life improvements to the core gameplay. But where Civ II really stood out was in the personality it fed into each game. Players were treated to wonderful, and corny, live action video advisors, fully animated leaders, a changing throne room, the ability to look at cities as they grew, and entertaining music.