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Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is a simulation game that lets players replicate the development of a human civilization on an alien world. Unlike previous Civilization games, this one doesn't provide players with an educational database of humankind's historical achievements, but it still lets you experiment with and view the impact various technologies and social and political advancements have on different types of nations. Though players can engage in violence by making their gun-toting armies attack rival colonies, the relatively mild combat is viewed from a bird's-eye perspective and doesn't include any blood or gore. The word "bastard" and occasional references to alcohol appear in text dialogue and descriptions. Players may be exposed to inappropriate comments via the unmoderated multiplayer chat, which raises some safety concerns.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Sid Meier games are renowned for delivering detailed simulations of humanity's gradual growth and development on Earth; now SID MEIER'S CIVILIZATION: BEYOND EARTH moves the action off our planet and into the future. Players assume the role of a fictional leader who's taken a small group of humans to a distant alien world to establish and guide the progression of a human colony. But he or she will face competition from other human colonists who have the same idea. What's more, the planet they try to settle is home to a wide variety of alien life that's all too happy to gobble up hapless explorers. Luckily, the colonists are armed with futuristic technologies and a broad range of progressive cultural, sociological, and diplomatic doctrines and tools. It's the player's job to deploy these nation-building elements to establish the dominant civilization on the new world, striving to achieve supremacy (and victory) in a variety of ways, ranging from military conquest to making contact with a sentient alien race.
Is it any good?
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth succeeds in standing apart from the series' Earth-based entries. Some parts feel like the Civilization games players know and love simply done up in sci-fi clothing, but there also are entirely new systems at play that meaningfully change the experience. The orbital layer, for example, lets players launch satellites that confer a variety of useful benefits -- before they eventually crash back to the ground, where they become possible treasure troves for rival nations. And the addition of multistage quests that have specific goals and force players to make hard decisions helps create the narrative and can alter the trajectory of some civilizations.
Although the historical detail that many of the franchise's fans have always enjoyed is missing, it's been replaced with interesting speculative concepts and themes, as well as believable future technologies -- such as genetics, robotics, and artificial evolution -- that will leave players pondering how scientific advances will affect our species in the coming decades and centuries. This is still fundamentally a game about the development and progression of humanity. It's undeniably a different kind of experience than past Civilization games, but that shouldn't scare players away. The world simulation on offer here is just as rich and complicated and satisfying as that of any Sid Meier game set on Earth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online safety. What precautions do you take when playing online games? What steps would you take if a stranger you met online began verbally attacking you or probing for personal information?
Discuss Beyond Earth's take on humankind's potential colonization of other worlds. If people left for the stars, do you think it would be a global effort or one started by individual nations? If by individual nations, would they try to find their own worlds or compete to colonize the same planets?
Talk about the violence in Beyond Earth. The top-down view lessens the impact of violence among units in the game; is this more appropriate and tolerable for younger gamers? How does it compare to other strategy titles?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Science: engineering, biology, energy
Social Studies: cultural understanding, government, the economy
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, strategy
Self-Direction: goal-setting, work to achieve goals, working efficiently
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 2K Games
- Release date: October 24, 2014
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.