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Sid Meier's Civilization III is a turn-based strategy computer game by Firaxis Games, the sequel to Sid Meier's Civilization II. It was followed by Civilization IV. Also called Civ3 or Civ III for short, the game is the third generation of the original Civilization. The game offers highly evolved gameplay in terms of both mechanics and strategy. Unlike the previous versions of the game, and perhaps belying its name, Civ III was designed not by Sid Meier, but by Jeff Briggs, a game designer, and Soren Johnson, a game programmer.

Civilization III, like the other Civilization games, is based around building an empire, from the ground up, beginning in prehistoric times (4000 BC) and continuing through the modern day (time limit 2050 AD). The player's civilization is centered around a core of cities, which provide the resources necessary to grow the player's cities, construct city improvements, wonders, and units, and advance the player's technological development. The player must balance a good infrastructure, resources, diplomatic and trading skills, technological advancement, city and empire management, culture, and military power to succeed.



Early responses[]

Magazines, reviewers, and strategy game fans consistently hail Civilization III as one of the best strategy games ever made. Though historically inaccurate, it nonetheless holds strong diplomatic, military and socioeconomic elements. The entire Civilization series (including the first two versions and the sequels, Civilization IV and Civilization V) is one of the best-selling strategy game series of all time.

With the popular success of Civilization II, fans had high expectations. Borrowing features from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and the Call to Power series, it had other innovative features such as strategic resources that could be monopolized, adding another twist to gameplay. The game is subject to a never-ending series of changes, leading users to be very demanding. The developers have publicly mentioned that fan input plays a strong role in development of new features.

The initial release of the game had some bugs and glitches. Some players complained that gameplay was poor for various reasons. Some criticized Civilization III for its lack of features which were found in other Civilization-like games, most notably Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (SMAC). Some of the features that SMAC had but were not carried forward included elevation, a working UN system, a social engineering system and a 'group movement' command to simplify managing units on the map. Others were upset by underpowered features, such as the game editor, which could not be used to create customized scenarios, something that was possible in Civ II.

Another serious concern regarded the new corruption system, which rendered cities far away from the capital almost completely useless. Many players who were used to dominating the game by creating massive empires called the corruption penalties too harsh. The game has been frequently called "Corruption III" in many forums, including, a major fan site. Others saw this aspect as a good way to increase the game's difficulty, to make the game both more challenging, and more realistic for players with far-flung empires.

Patches and expansions[]

The first patch came very soon after its initial release, and other patches were released subsequently, improving gameplay significantly. The patches also managed to add in certain features, such as the aforementioned group movement command.

The Play the World expansion included many features fans wished to have included in the original game, including multiplayer gaming and new gaming scenarios. The multiplayer mode had significant problems and most users were never able to get it to work without the later patch released for it. Most complaints about features that were added later, however, are countered by the fact that including all the bug fixes and features that were included later would mean the game's release would be delayed by months, if not years. Civ III, like many games, exemplifies the dilemma of game developers who must balance an early release of the game with a more polished product.

The Conquests expansion contains everything found in Play the World, but adds a few more new civilizations, gameplay elements, units, editor functions and scenarios.

Ongoing approval[]

Overall, the reaction to Civilization III has been positive. It has won many "Game of the Year" and "Strategy Game of the Year" awards and continued to win new fans, even since Civilization IV was released.

Critics' scores[]

  • GameSpot 9.2/10 [1]
  • IGN 9.3/10 [2]
  • Game-Revolution A- [3]


Two expansion sets have been published for Civilization III: Play the World, and Conquests. Play the World adds multiplayer capabilities, and it adds eight new civilizations and some new units to the original release. Conquests also offers nine historical playable scenarios, ranging from Mesopotamia to WWII in the Pacific. Many of these scenarios have resources, improvements, wonders, music, and even government types that are specific to the scenario, especially the Mesoamerican and Sengoku Japan campaigns.

The latest stand-alone version is Civilization III Complete, which includes the two expansions and several patches. (This version came after Civilization III: Gold Edition and Civilization III: Game of the Year Edition.)


Some fans turned to so-called "mods" ("modifications" of the original game), to add features they would have liked to see in the original release. Four popular ones are the Double Your Pleasure mod (DYP), Rise and Rule mod (RaR), Rhye's of Civilization (ROC), and The Cold War (TCW) which double nearly all elements of the original game in quantity: technologies, civilizations, units. Although the first mods were created for "Vanilla" Civilization III (that is, the unexpanded original), the best mods have been made for Conquests. This is because the Editor that came with Conquests was a considerable improvement over the earlier ones, with many more functions that allowed more imaginative mods and scenarios to be created.

Several themed mods have also sprung up, focusing on one period of time or fiction, such as The Cold War, which focuses on The Cold War between 1950–1991. Other examples include The Ancient Mediterranean mod (TAM) and, more recently, Anno Domini, which offers a four-era random-map game similar to the standard but covers only antiquity and the Middle Ages. In addition to these mods, there are fan-made scenarios, which are similar to the conquest games that come with Conquests: they are played on relatively small maps, focusing on relatively short periods of time, and often offer a far more detailed dramatization of history. Popular examples include the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire (RFRE), the Rood and the Dragon (set in Anglo-Saxon Britain), and the Rise and Fall of the Mughals (set in early modern India).

Since the Play the World expansion, mods can be installed without actually modifying the original game. Fan websites such as CivFanatics, Apolyton, Civ3 Maps and Mods, or Evolution Games offer the platform for developing and distributing mods in a way that few games have seen to date. In addition to the mods themselves, these sites also make available hundreds of fan-made military units, building graphics, terrain, and other artwork intended to be incorporated into mods. As a result, some mods can offer an immersive experience in a particular period of history by using far more specialized art than that provided with the game itself.


  • The menu screen for the original version is based on the Tower of Babel.
  • The credits display a picture of an Elvis impersonator in the end. This is present in the original version of the game.[1]
  • A city in the Viking city list, 'Thunderfall', is actually the username of the administrator of the Civilization Fanatics Center. 'Mingapulco' in the Aztec city list is a tribute to an important moderator and member of the Apolyton Civilization Site. Similarly, 'Apolyton' in the list of Greek cities is a reference to the Apolyton site itself.[1]
  • Playing the expansions on Elvis Presley's birthday (January 8) will turn the ruler unit in Regicide games into a representation of the King.[1] Elvis has had some form of appearance in every Civilization title so far.
  • The image of the Science Advisor in the technology tree screen bears a strong resemblance to Sid Meier (probably intentional).
  • When a player wants to start a revolution, they are asked "You say you want a revolution?" The options "Yeah, you know it's gonna be alright", or "No, you can count me out", are references to the Beatles' song "Revolution".[1]
  • When the city name list is completely expended, the game begins naming new cities with the "New" prefix attached to the original names. There are three unique results thanks to this:
    • The city name of "New York" is thus a default name in two nations - the Americans and the English, while the city name New Orleans is a default name for both the Americans and the French.
    • When the game reaches the city name "New Tokyo" for a Japanese civilization, it instead names the city "Neo-Tokyo".[1]
    • The Ottomans get the city "Not Constantinople" instead of "New Istanbul", and the Byzantines get "Not Istanbul" instead of "New Constantinople", both referring to the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)".[1]
  • Occasionally the Trade Advisor will remark "I'm not even supposed to BE here today!", a reference to the 1994 Kevin Smith movie Clerks.





  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Civilization III: Easter Eggs". 2005-08-13. Retrieved 2006-09-07.

See also[]

External links[]

Civilization III [edit]
Play the WorldConquests

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