Sid Meier's Civilization II is a turn-based strategy video game designed by Brian Reynolds, Douglas Caspian-Kaufman and Jeff Briggs. Although it is a sequel to Sid Meier's Civilization, neither Sid Meier nor Bruce Shelley was involved in its development.
Civilization II was first released in 1996 for the PC and later ported to the Sony PlayStation. In 2002, Atari re-released the game for newer operating systems, such as Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The Multiplayer Gold Edition was included in the Civilization Chronicles box set released in 2006.
Civilization II is similar to the first Civilization, with some changes to the various units, civilizations, world wonders, tile "specials" and technologies. The graphics were changed from a top-down view to an isometric representation. The AI was improved as well, including the elimination of most random events by now making the computer player go through the same production requirements as the human player.
Rivers no longer occupy the whole of each tile along its length. The river is just part of each topography square it flows through, adding productive value, defensive bonuses and movement ability.
The game features entirely new concepts, such as firepower and hit points, and changes to some units' abilities and strengths. For instance, engineers and settlers can be automated to improve surrounding areas, but no longer ignore enemy zones of control. Legions cost more to produce but have greater attack and defense values; some new units are added such as stealth bomber and stealth fighter.
The player has the ability to consult the 'High Council' for advice (as long as the player still has the CD in the drive). The council consists of film clips of actors portraying advisors in the areas of the military (a brawny man, often drunk, angry or both; he becomes a stereotypical American general when Modern Age is reached), economics (a smooth-talking merchant, later a snooty and suave businessman), diplomacy (in the Modern Age, a saucy femme fatale with a vaguely Eastern European accent), technological progress (a nerdy scientist), and the people's happiness (an Elvis Presley caricature, wearing sunglasses even in the Ancient period). They often argue with and insult one another, as each advisor's department demands a different set of priorities. The counselors' costumes change with each new era. In many ways, the 'High Council' constitutes a bit of comic relief, especially from the expansionist "military" adviser, who will insist on more troops even when the player has 60 battleships, or during the Medieval Period will sing the last refrain from the 18th Century English traditional song "Down Among the Dead Men", punctuated with a hearty "No complaints, sire!". When the player is experiencing anarchy, the characters begin talking and shouting illegibly at the same time, interrupting each other, and finally beginning to fight, with all counselor windows shutting down and turning into the "Ⓐ" symbol of Anarchy.
There are two paths to victory (and bonus points to the score) in this game: to be the last civilization remaining or to build a spaceship and reach Alpha Centauri before any of the other civilizations. The space race can be much more difficult because there are a limited number of turns in the game, which ends in the year 2020. If the spaceship does not reach Alpha Centauri by then, the game will simply end with the current score. The player can continue playing after all civilizations have been conquered, the spaceship has reached its destination, or the year 2020, but there will no longer be any scoring. The sooner a player conquers every other civilization, or the space ship arrives, the better as far as scoring is concerned. However, there are many things that can be done to gain points, so it occasionally is better to hold off victory to gain more points by, say researching extra 'future technologies'.
The scoring system measures the player's performance in the end of each game. Population is a major influence on scoring as each happy citizen contributes two points, each content citizen contributes one point, and each unhappy citizen contributes zero points. This means that higher population yields better scores. Players may increase the luxury rate to the maximum (depending upon their government type) right before the very end of the game in order to increase happiness, maximizing their scores. Additionally, each wonder of the world owned by the player will also add 20 points to their score. Each square with pollution deducts ten points. The length of time there has been peace (no armed conflict or war) up to the end of the game also adds 3 points per turn, up to a maximum of 100 points, and if the player won using a spaceship, additional points are rewarded, based on the amount of people who reached Alpha Centauri alive. The final score will also give a civilization percentage, based on the difficulty level the game was played at (chosen at the very beginning of the game). The higher this percentage is, the better. Finally, a title will be given to the player. Particularly good ones include "Lion-Hearted," "the Great" with the greatest obtainable title being "The Magnificent."