Build empires to go, with Freeciv Portable | Download Product Review - CNET

Build empires to go, with Freeciv Portable

Take your armies on the road with this portable version of Freeciv.

Freeciv Portable is Freeciv, the open-source civilization-building game, rendered totally portable by PortableApps. As with the installed version, players attempt to build empires over a timescale spanning the Stone Age to the Space Age. Freeciv Portable lets you play new games, save and return to games, and connect to network games, just like the regular freeware. Freeciv's been around a long time, and the original version from the mid-1990s was based on an even older game from the Days of DOS, Sid Meier's Civilization. It's gotten much more sophisticated since then, in both look and gameplay.

We opened Freeciv Portable and logged in to the game. Since we were starting from scratch, we couldn't specify Number of Players or Ruleset Version; we could only choose our Skill Level from a list that offered Novice, Easy, Normal, Hard, Cheating, and Experimental settings. We chose Novice. The Game Settings sheet has seven tabs filled with interesting choices related to your civilization and its world: Geographical, Sociological, Economic, Military, Scientific, Internal, and Networking (for online and multiuser play).

We could specify everything from minimum distance between cities to the frequency at which Barbarians appear. We could create our own nation or pick one using the Specify Nation feature. Using this tool, we could choose national group, flag, the architectural style of our cities, and even whether our civilization had male or female leaders. We clicked Random Nation, though, which is sort of like how people pick their nations in real life. Once we'd selected a Player, we clicked Start. The game started with a simple 3D view of an isolated area of grassland. What happened next? It'd take almost as long to describe as to do it all again; it's enough to say that Freeciv hasn't been turning ordinary PC users into conquerors since the mid-'90s for nothing.

Freeciv starts in the Stone Age, and the game itself has been around long enough to have a huge army of fans and lots of resources, including forums and its own Wiki. Freeciv Portable is great for virtual conquerors on the go.

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