On two decades of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

Fascists, communists, eco-warriors and the remnants of the old world’s liberal order violently squabble for humanity’s future on a planet trying to kill them. The gulf widens between the haves and have-nots as long-lived Talents lord over toiling Drones kept in line by mass entertainment and police brutality. Artificial intelligences see everything, even into dreams, as humans become more like machines and machines become ever more like gods.

Twenty years ago last February, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri challenged players to make a new home for humankind around our nearest star. Beginning where Civilization 2’s space race victory left off, SMAC represented a completely new direction. Freed from Earth’s gravity, the game combined sci-fi horror and wild utopian possibilities with innovative mechanics and engrossing story. Yet the most interesting thing about SMAC is that it acknowledges and even embraces the moral implications of the 4X genre. Where Civilization has often strived to put a cute gloss over the cold machinery of progress, Alpha Centauri asks what that gloss hides. In many ways it feels like the beginning of a conversation mainstream games are still reluctant to have.

From the moment your faction’s escape pod crashes to the surface of an alien world, SMAC emphasises your fragility on this unknown frontier. Gone are the green fields and snow-capped mountains of Earth. This world, known only as Planet, is covered in red dust, smothering fungus, dense jungle and lethal mindworms. Between this hostile landscape, the sparse soundtrack, and the isolation from the other six factions you know are out there, SMAC tells you this isn’t civilisation. This is survival.

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Original Post By – Eurogamer 

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