Civilization 5 has been out for about a week now, and it seems to be rather disliked by the circles I frequent. I've long been a fan of turn-based strategy, and I was highly disappointed to learn that Civ 5 will not run on my toaster oven of a computer. Not THAT disappointed, since popular opinion seems to peg it as the most dumbed down and buggy installment of the series yet. But with all the attention it's getting, I was still driven to head back to earlier days.
MUCH earlier days.
It's rarely placed on a pedestal like Civilization 2, but it is my firm belief that Sid Meier's Colonization is one of his best games. The commodity-based economic system is like something out of Settlers, and it works brilliantly here. Selling goods like fur coats, cigars, and rum to your mother country is your primary source of income, and there's a manufacturing chain for each one. Particularly notable is the manufacture of muskets, which is the only practical way to arm your colonists and defend your colonies. Firearms can be imported from Europe, but the cost quickly becomes astronomical.
The game OOZES personality, which is one of the major failing points of the remake. 640x480 graphics or not, you can't compare stale, stagnant status boxes with a smug aristocrat extending his pinky ring for you to kiss when he raises your taxes. The BGM is tinny-sounding midi, but the period songs are as much of an earworm as anything contemporary.
Perhaps the greatest failure here is the difficulty. The ideal victory condition is to successfully rebel against your mother country, fighting off their expeditionary forces and becoming a new country. This is easy with even a minimum of preparation. The beginning stages of the game can be rough on the higher difficulty settings, but once you've established a foothold, the New World is your oyster. Whether to trade with Indians or genocide them, whether to hold your ground with statesman or soldiers, the game is an incredible trip 500 years back in time, and it has aged supremely well in my opinion. Interestingly enough, Montezuma is absolutely docile in this game and his historical conquerors the Spanish are the warmongers you have to watch out for.
I wholly recommend snatching this lost gem up if you're feeling disillusioned with the latest entry in the Civilization series.