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Works in Mac as well as Windows Published by: Electronic Arts Developed by: Firaxis Games Ported to the Macintosh by: Aspyr Media ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
System Requirements:
For Macintosh:
Full version of Alpha Centauri required to play Mac OS 7.6 or later Power PC 603e at 180 MHz or faster 32 MB of free memory(you may need to enable virtual memory) 4X CD ROM Hard Drive and color monitor capable of 800x600 resolution at 256 colors Plays on any iMac or G3
For PC:
133 MHz or faster Pentium processor Microsoft Windows 95 or 98 16 MB RAM 60 MB hard disk space 4x CD-ROM drive 2 MB DirectX 6 compatible video card DirectX 6 compatible sound card MS compatible mouse and keyboard For multiplayer: Network with IPX/SPX compatible protocol (2-7 players) Serial connection (2 players) 28.8 Kbps modem (2 players) TCP/IP via user\'s Internet connection (2-4 players) Microphone for voice communication

BY DREW REGENSBURGER For fans of Civilization, Alpha Centauri was a triumph that exhibited a combination of a \'future history\' and the classic turn-based strategy that Civilization revolutionized.

Story

Alpha Centauri Soon after the new millennium begins, humankind\'s oldest enemies-war, famine, and disease-are winning the battle on planet Earth. The United Nations decides to attempt a the mission that has been the dream of countless science fiction writers and fans for generations: the colonization of a New World, before it\'s too late. The establishment of a new outpost for mankind as an alternative to the decaying situation on our home planet seems to be the last and best hope for the continued existence of mankind. Code named \'Unity\', the plan is simple. Send enough men, women, and supplies to the earthlike planet, Chiron, orbiting the primary star in the Alpha Centauri system. Give them the seeds for planting a new society-technology, knowledge, and experts of every kind. Insure that the mission, U.N. sponsored, stays on track by carefully monitoring its progress from Earth. Then, when the time is right, and if the need still exists, begin shuttling other to the New World at Alpha Centauri. But space travel is a difficult undertaking, even now. It is hard to reach our own moon. If we had the capacity to make it to a distant planet, will we be able to bring the travelers back? Once firmly established on a distant world, will we be able to cooperate with each other long enough to establish a new society that can attain the same levels and qualities of life that we have achieved here after almost 5000 years of civilization? But the deteriorating conditions on Earth leave us little choice. From the beginning, there are problems aboard the U.N. Starship Unity. An unexpected reactor malfunction damages the ship, waking the travelers early from cryo-sleep. It is soon evident that the has damaged communications equipment and contact with Earth is lost, and cannot be reestablished. The leadership of the mission is faced with the prospect of going it alone and soon begin to argue obstinately about the best way to proceed. The game begins when the Unity Mission reaches Chiron. But, by this time, the mission has fallen into chaos. The most powerful leaders on board have built ideological factions and surrounded themselves with dedicated followers. It is clear that each faction has established its own agenda about the future of mankind and is desperately serious about carrying it through.

Alien Crossfire

The early human exploration of Planet found many mysterious signs pointing to a long-vanished alien race. The questions raised by these discoveries were soon answered when two alien factions arrived on Planet a few years after the crash-landing of the Unity. Their true motives were vague, but it appeared they had returned to Planet to settle the fate of Manifold Six (their name for Planet) and the grand experiment in which they were involved. The Usurper faction has been pushing for the Progenitor race to exploit the powers of the Manifold, and essentially set themselves up as gods. The Caretakers see Planet as a sentient being, whose would result from Usurper policies. Two scout ships arrived in the space above Manifold Six to settle the issue. Unfortunately for both sides (but perhaps fortunately for the humans on Planet), the two ships were evenly matched, and nearly destroyed each other. Survivors of the two factions managed to jettison in escape pods down to Planet\'s surface, where they prepare for battle, and for the day on which they can contact their respective factions and send for reinforcements. If that day ever comes, human existence on Planet will be in grave jeopardy. The human factions must choose whether to band together to fight the offworlders, or side with the aliens as a means to ultimate victory. The picture is further complicated by the rise of new human factions preaching radical philosophies, from the Drones who seek liberation of the working masses, to the strange Cybernetic faction unleashed by amoral University researchers. For those who enjoyed the saga of Alpha Centauri\'s colonists, Alien Crossfire will keep you glued to your computer screen, vying for the fate of the alien world known to us as Planet.

The Factions

Alpha Centauri * Gaia\'s Stepdaughters (Led by Lady Deirrdre Sky)- This faction tries not to make the environmental mistakes of Earth. They seek to live at peace with Chiron\'s ecosystem. * Human Hive (Led by Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang)- This faction is ruled under strict collectivist/authoritarian principles. Basically, the good of the individual is subordinate to that of the state. The Hive is an isolationist faction, and they are generally militaristic. * University of Planet (Led by Academician Prokhor Zakharov)- The University is completely dedicated to research and the free exchange of information. Sometimes, they will put the pursuit of knowledge ahead of ethics. * Morgan Industries (Led by CEO Nwabudike Morgan)- The Morgans are organized along corporate lines, and are dedicated to laissez-faire capitalist economic principles. * Spartan Federation (Led by Colonel Corazon Santiago)- The Spartans are paramilitary survivalists. They believe in both the right and duty to keep and bear arms. * The Lord\'s Believers (Led by Sister Miriam Godwinson)- The Believers seek a life of prayer and religious worship. Because of their convictions, they get a bonus when attacking enemies. * The Peacekeeping Forces (Led by Commissioner Pravin Lal)- The Peacekeepers exist to support the humanitarian principles of the United Nations of Earth. Their society has a tendency towards bureaucratic inefficiency. Alien Crossfire * The Cybernetic Consciousness (Led by Prime Function Aki Zeta-5)- This faction is led by a mysterious figure from The Unity who has apparently been part of an experiment in artificial intelligence. It is surmised a research technician working for Prokhor Zakharov was subjected to an implanted AI algorithm, and is now sharing her conscio- usness with this intelligence. Aki Zeta-Five offers her followers a pure intellect less fettered by greed and other distressing emotions. * The Nautilus Pirates (Led by Captiain Ulrik Svensgaard)- The Pirates believe the oceans of Planet are actually far more suitable for human life than the land masses. They are dedicated to a life at sea, exploiting the untold riches of the water. * The Free Drones (Led by Foreman Domai)- The Free Drones are led by a former drone(a sort of worker) who has come to understand the horrible oppression under which his peers labor. * The Data Angels (Led by Datajack Sinder Roze)- The Angels are dedicated to a flow of free information and equal opportunity for all. Their detractors call them s\' and thieves- but the Angels are mostly interested in the excitement of covert operations. * The Cult of Planet (Led by Prophet Cha Dawn)- The leader of the Cult of Planet appeared under mysterious circumstances a few years after Planetfall. Though clearly just a young boy, he claims to have the Word of Planet in his ears, and promises to lead his followers to a cleansing jihad, making them (and the will of Planet) supreme. * The Manifold Caretakers (Led by Guardian Lular H\'Minee)- The Caretakers are members of the Progenitor race, the original creators of the living experiment called Planet. The Caretaker faction is dedicated to non-interference with Planet\'s life forms and destiny; they believe the Manifold experiment must be allowed to run its natural course. * The Manifold Usurpers (Led by Conquerer Judaa Maar)- The Usurpers are an opposing faction of Progenitors who believe the Manifold experiment has reached a logical conclusion, and it is time for the powers of Planet to be used for military purposes.

Graphics

While certainly nothing compared to the more popular RTS genre, Alien Crossfire\'s graphics are really good and fairly typical for a turn-based strategy game. Each game sprite is ed in three dimensions, and actually have moving animations, so that the game play is quite unlike checkers or chess, which is what is closest to the game game play wise. In the cut scenes, played using Quicktime, the graphics could be better. With Quicktime, it generally seems as if there is some shading that is missing from the video. While the actual graphics are okay, considering that the designers mixed live action video and CGI, the CGI graphics sometimes come off as clunky and forced, but the effect is the same. For the sheer amount of things that can happen onscreen, the game does really well. On the one hand, you can have a unit waiting to attack an enemy base, while you send a Planet Buster (Alpha Centauri\'s version of an atomic ) to another cluster of bases and wipe out entire groupings of buildings. Overall, the graphical effects are reasonably good, and are worthy of any computer gamers attention. They are not, however, enough to buy the game for. Game play As you can see from above (if you read it), both Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire have incredibly deep factions. That was just a little look at the factions. Besides being incredibly addicting, these two games also are really a blast to play, but not for too long, or you might experience total brain meltdown. That\'s how much this game makes you think. Besides the basic aspect of trying to conquer and colonize Chiron, you must also research far future technologies, as well as decide the kind of society that you would prefer. This ranges from creating your ideal government, which could be Democratic, or even a Police State, to creating your future Utopian society, which might be cybernetic or Eudaimonic, which stems from an ancient Greek work for striving for happiness. Because of the implications that these different types of government, economy, and society bring, certain choices may not lie well with other factions, requiring to try and shape your society to their ideals if you are striving for a Diplomatic victory.

Sound

The sound is, truly, superb. With every technology you discover, there is a crisp sounding voice reading off a quote, classical or brand new and made for the game. To tell the truth, many of these quotes offer looks into our culture that one may not otherwise have. However, the lack of an in game soundtrack and ambient sound makes the game a little rough on the edges, sound wise. So, I just do a quick fix. My stereo is across from my computer, so I just pop in a CD and let the tunes roll. Unfortunately, this cuts out the better points of the voice acting, so I am forced to continue turning the music up and down. With relatively simplistic sounds, this game shines when the voice acting plays, but really is horrible when the actual in game sounds play.

Control

Pretty good, but kind of confusing until you get used to it. Besides the keyboard shortcuts that almost all Sid Meier games are famous for, Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire have a cool movement system. Think of the 8 key on the num pad as North, making the 2 South. This makes the 4 West and the 6 East, thus making the 7 and 1 North/Southwest and the 9 and 3 North/Southeast, also known as diagonal. If you want your unit to move straight forward, tap the 8. It\'s that simple. Other than that, the Enter and Escape keys are gonna be the most commonly used keys during game play.

Appropriateness

These games are kind of questionable in several respects. In one of the factions, The Lord\'s Believers, Knowledge is not an available social choice, which to me says that the designers are implying that Christians can\'t be knowledgeable. The manual says this is because of a suspicion of secular science, but to me it is a biased thing to say. Then there are the two other questionable factions, Gaia\'s Stepdaughters and The Planet Cult. These factions are basically about a sort of ecological harmony with the planet Chiron, but it is still not okay for the designers to be putting that kind of stuff in a game. Another one of the factions, the Manifold Usurpers, thinks that Chiron has become the end of an experiment, and should be used to achieve godhood. This is definitely not okay. Not at all. Luckily, there is a faction mixer uper dealy that allows you to choose which factions participate, so that there is nothing bad like this. Then there is a sort of new-agey aspect to the game. Just wait until you get to the middle to last part of the game. There is a great Secret Project known as The Voice of Planet. It allows Chiron to be manifested in a computer before it destroys humanity. After this is completed, you are able to do another Secret Project, the Ascent to Transcendence, which allows the faction leader and all the people who want to upload their consciousness into a computer with the Voice of Planet. It is not really objectionable, its just that it seems that the designers might be Gaian. Of course, the point here is to actually let players design their own ideal future society, and this is where both games succeed and fail. If you happen to actually want to have a society that respects the environment, you can choose either the Planet Cult or the Gaians, but the truth is, any society can really respect the environment, unless Green economics is out of the choices your society can make. The point is, the designers did not have to have these two factions, and these are really the only down points of these two games. There is little to no bad language, and one technology that has a quote that says that this is really where you can \'find God in technology\'. Although I object to these things, the Alien Crossfire expansion allows you to randomize the factions, allowing you to eliminate any you don\'t want. If you are a strategy gamer, buy these games because it is one of the best games in recent years.

Ratings:

Appropriate B- Game play A Graphics B Interface A Sound C

Overall: 82%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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