Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

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"Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden. He drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

So begins Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, (or "SMAC") spiritual successor to Civilization I and II. Described as "SimCity meets Dune"[1], it is one of the Greatest Games Ever Made. Despite not carrying the title, it is considered by most as a member of the Civilization franchise, at least in spirit. The story entails the colonization of a planet in the Alpha Centauri star system. Unlike the Civilization series, whose background is solely that of human history, Alpha Centauri develops a complex storyline through the starting video, videos for completed secret projects, explanations of new technologies, and sometimes in cut-scenes and textual interludes.

According to the prologue, humanity has royally screwed itself on Earth, and in a last-ditch attempt to save society, the United Nations launches the spaceship Unity to the planet Chiron in the Alpha Centauri system. Things go to pot IN SPAAAACE! after a reactor malfunction prematurely awakens members of the crew from cryostasis. Not long afterward, Captain Garland is assassinated and the crew degenerates into eight distinct factions. Nobody manages to fix the ship, and just as everyone reaches the planet the whole thing breaks apart and the crew makes planetfall as seven divergent ideological societies, the eighth colony pod exploding before entry.

Alpha Centauri is rendered in a combination of 2- and 3-dimensional graphics, including dynamic terrain height that further strategizes terraforming. In contrast to previous Civilization titles, Alpha Centauri places a noticeable emphasis on social ideology and its ramifications. It also implements dynamic governmental policy ("social engineering"), later revisited in Civilization IV. Likewise, the Planetary Council provides the first global forum for policy affecting every player in the game. Many Alpha Centauri fans enjoy the quotations accompanying technologies, base structures and secret project videos and the thought behind them. Tying the imaginary technology of the Datalinks into real intellectual history are quotes from Plato, Machiavelli, Immanuel Kant, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Sir Thomas More, Albert Einstein, Saint Augustine, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sun Tzu, Lao Tzu, Herman Melville, Jules Verne, John Milton, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Søren Kierkegaard interspersed among those from the game's characters, as well as references to traditional songs and sayings from Earth.[2]

The game was built upon by a single expansion pack, Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire (or "SMAX"), released later in 1999. It featured the debut of seven new factions, two of which were non-human, as well as other gameplay changes. SMAC has held a fond place in the hearts of many fans of the Civilization franchise in the two decades after its release, such that Firaxis sought to capitalize upon its success by remaking the game as "Civilization: Beyond Earth" in 2014. This recreation definitely did not garner the same praise as its predecessor, and currently holds a 6/10 average on Steam. The flop of its remake notwithstanding, Alpha Centauri remains a beloved, classic strategy game.


In DYOS XI, the planet Chiron was used when Stylesrj visited the Alpha Centauri system. On Chiron, the Spartan Federation was under the control of General Ironside rather than the SMAC leader, Corazon Santiago.


  1. Herz, J.C. (March 18, 1999). "GAME THEORY; On 2067 Battleground, 1999 Political Passions". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  2. Generation Terrorists.