Civ­i­liza­tion: Beyond Earth

The game that’s out of this world

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - Com­plex turn-based strat­egy Ex­cit­ing fu­ture-gaz­ing and aliens

£29.99 De­vel­oper Aspyr, OS OS X 10.9.5 or later Re­quires 2.2GHz i3 CPU or bet­ter, 4GB RAM, 8GB disk space, In­tel HD 4000 graph­ics or bet­ter, 256MB VRAM)

Beyond Earth is largely sim­i­lar to Civ­i­liza­tion V, but set against a back­drop of colonis­ing an alien world rather than ad­vanc­ing through the epochs of hu­man his­tory. It re­tains the fa­mil­iar turn­based me­chan­ics, as units are spread over a world map di­vided into hexagons, with the player’s mi­cro­man­age­ment skills tested with tasks from out­post build­ing to re­search­ing tech­nolo­gies of the fu­ture, man­ag­ing trade routes and ter­raform­ing the alien soil to im­prove hu­man sur­viv­abil­ity.

It feels more than just a highly pol­ished mod for Civ­i­liza­tion though, since Beyond Earth keeps things fresh by adding a few new el­e­ments to the tried and tested for­mula. Progress along the enor­mous tech­nol­ogy tree leads to hu­man­ity’s fu­ture evolv­ing in ac­cor­dance with one of three philoso­phies: Har­mony, Supremacy or Pu­rity.

Fac­tion choice af­fects both the visual ap­pear­ance of your units, and the bonuses you re­ceive. Har­mony is a path to greater un­der­stand­ing of the alien life­forms, so your units be­come green and adopt bug-like fea­tures. Supremacy’s me­chan­i­cal ap­proach leads to a more ro­botic ap­pear­ance.

A lot of thought has gone into the game de­sign, but it’s all a bit com­pli­cated to start with, and takes a few games to fig­ure out. It can feel bland at times, which isn’t helped by the lack of any real vari­a­tion be­tween the fac­tion lead­ers, aside from the graph­ics and speech that plays when you meet them, which is limited to no more than a few oft-re­peated lines.

Once you have a dozen ci­ties and a liv­ing, breath­ing em­pire, plough­ing through each turn gets tire­some. Work­ers and ex­plor­ers can be au­to­mated, and the game be­comes a lot faster when an­i­ma­tions are turned off. But trade routes, an es­sen­tial part of the eco­nomic game, still need to be man­aged man­u­ally. Hope­fully Fi­raxis will be

Beyond Earth keeps things fresh by adding a few new el­e­ments to the tried and tested Civ­i­liza­tion for­mula

able to im­prove this me­chanic with a patch.

Per­for­mance is sur­pris­ingly good, and it ran re­ally well on Iris graph­ics in a 2013 Mac­Book Pro. That said, we rec­om­mend avoid­ing play on the largest of maps if you have an older Mac.

Although we’ve moaned about some as­pects of the game, it still has the same re­ward­ing one-more-turn ad­dic­tive qual­i­ties pos­sessed by ev­ery Civ­i­liza­tion game. It’s only been out a lit­tle over a month and we’ve al­ready racked up over 100 hours of play. There are many dif­fer­ent ways to win, and strate­gies to try out, but it’s dis­ap­point­ingly short of be­ing a master­piece when it had all the po­ten­tial to be ex­actly that. Orestis Bas­tou­nis

Beyond Earth is a highly ad­dic­tive strat­egy game, but given its her­itage and set­ting it could have been far more.

Civ­i­liza­tion play­ers will recog­nise the hex grid but not the alien world on top of it.

Diplo­macy runs the same course as Civ­i­liza­tion V. Some of the re­sponses are iden­ti­cal.

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