In the world of turn-based strategy games, Civilization rules the roost. Or at least used to. I personally have spent a lot of hours over the years playing the original series (although I'm not much of a player any more, and never really was very 'good' by any decent standards).
So reviewing FreeCiv is sort of a bit of a nostalgia trip for me, but I'll try and keep that at bay as much as possible.
For those of you who haven't played any of the original Civ series, FreeCiv is a turn based strategy game where you build a civilisation and amass an empire taking turns with other factions trying to do the As the turns elapse, you progress through history - starting from 4000 BC up to the modern day, gaining new technology, starting and ending wars and (in theory) expanding your empire as that happens.
Graphically and conceptually, the game is very close to Civilization II, with similar isometric 2.5D graphics and an almost clone of the CivII interface, down to the layout of the main window to the nation select screens.
I didn't have an awful lot of time to delve into gameplay, but from the playing I did do, it seems very authentic as a clone of CivII. To veterans of the genre and the original series, it will be easy to pick up and the differences are minimal.
New players, especially those unfamiliar with this type of game might be a little overwhelmed. However, there are a set of very useful tutorials available from the FreeCiv wiki. Some tutorials, however, can delve a little too much into the client-server architecture of FreeCiv, which, while informative, might be a little too much for just a casual player who wants to pick up and play.
For fans of the original game series, I highly recommend FreeCiv for a free and cross-platform alternative. It does an admirable job from what I have seen of a good Civilization experience and is well worth a look.
People unfamiliar with the series should still give it a good try, but might want to read up on the tutorials a little bit first and give it some patience. If you're like me, you'll probably get hooked quite quickly!
FreeCiv is available for Windows, Mac OS X and many other Linux and Unix operating systems too.