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Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire

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Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire
Alien Crossfire

Developer(s) Firaxis Games
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts (Windows)
Loki Software (Linux)
Aspyr (Mac OS)
Designer(s) Timothy Train
Douglas Kaufman
Chris Pine
Gregory Foertsch
Michael Ely
Bing Gordon
Sid Meier
Platform(s) Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Release date(s) September 1999 (Windows)
Genre(s) Turn-based strategy (4X)
Mode(s) Single player; multiplayer (over IPX, TCP/IP or modem)
Rating(s) ESRB: E (Everyone)
Media CD (1)
System requirements

P133 MHz CPU, 16 MB RAM, 60 MB HD

Input methods Keyboard, mouse

Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire, published in September 1999, is an expansion pack for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, a turn-based strategic 4X computer game. It was designed by Timothy Train and other members of Firaxis Games. Alien Crossfire features seven new factions (two of which are non-human), new technologies, new facilities, new secret projects, new alien life forms, new unit special abilities, new victory conditions (including the new Progenitor Victory) and several additional new concepts and strategies[1]. The game initially had a single production run.

The editable nature of the game allows for a large degree of customization and has led to the creation of a number of mods and custom factions which other users can download to expand the gameplay. A number of sites have sprung up to support and distribute these files.

Brendan Casey (scient) released Version 1.0 of the Unofficial SMAC/X Patch, which fixes some bugs in Alien Crossfire on May 7, 2010[2]. His project began in February 2009 at Apolyton's Alpha Centauri site[3] and moved in June 2009 to the Civilization Gaming Network,[4] where he will continue developing further versions of the patch.[5]

Electronic Arts included both Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire in some of its various compilation of older computer games. The most common set was marketed as a "laptop gamers" collection, and also included the newest Tiger Woods game as a result of a production error.

Main differences Edit

The "alien crossfire" of the title refers to a civil war between two factions of an alien race named the Progenitors, the original creators of the ecosystem of Chiron. Their presence was hinted at in the original game by the presence of the monolith structures that instantly healed any unit, and Alien Artifacts that granted advanced technological knowledge. It is revealed that Chiron is one of six planets, referred to by them as Manifolds, where the Progenitors experimented in achieving sentience on a planetary level, using the xenofungus they had engineered. However, a disaster occurred on another Manifold orbiting Tau Ceti: In an event they refer to as "the Flowering", the Tau Ceti Manifold achieved sentience far too fast and uncontrollably. The "Flowering of Tau Ceti" resulted in a massive and uncontrolled burst of psychic energy which destroyed the Tau Ceti Manifold, along with most of the Progenitors' civilization. Further, the locations of the other five Manifolds were lost. The scattered survivors regrouped into two factions: the Caretakers, who believed that the disaster at Tau Ceti proved that they should avoid future research into planetary-level sentience, and the Usurpers, who believed that despite the accident, they should seek out the remaining Manifolds and use them to usher in the Transcendence of their species to the next stage of evolution. The Caretakers and Usurpers became locked in conflict for millennia.

The Progenitors appear as squid-like aliens, with two horns on the nose and two horns on each side of their bug-like mouths. The Caretakers have peach skin and black tentacles growing out of the side of their heads, while the Usurpers have pale green skin and no tentacles. The Caretakers are portrayed as moralists, accusing the Usurpers of destroying neighboring systems. The Usurpers portray themselves as liberals with the "courage to question", though they appear to also be motivated by greed. The Usurpers wish to exploit Manifold Six (the Progenitor name for Chiron) for military purposes; the Caretakers wish to prevent this. Both factions send ships to Manifold Six to settle the matter once and for all. Both expeditions end up crash-landing on Planet, losing countless alien lives and virtually all of their technology. Their civil war continues, however, and both factions anticipate the day when they can send for reinforcements and crush the other faction.

The Progenitors have the ability to target their research at specific technologies, unlike human factions who can only focus research in general directions. In addition, the Progenitors have a unique victory condition: By researching up the tech tree, they can eventually build a Resonance Communicator, allowing them to summon the bulk of their forces to Chiron and so to overwhelm all other factions.

Initially, Progenitors and humans cannot confer with each other; they must research the appropriate technology (Progenitor Psych for human factions, Social Psych for Progenitor factions) to understand how to communicate across the species. Progenitor and human living requirements are radically different - when one species takes over a city of the other species, those residents that survive the conquest are forced out in Colony Pods. Since the two sides belong to different species, they are also able to commit atrocities (such as destroying bases and using nerve gas) against each other without fear of political repercussions. The only exception to this is the use of planet-busters since these affect the planet negatively.

Factions Edit

Main article: factions

In addition to the original seven factions, the expansion pack adds seven new factions, plus a hidden 'bonus' faction.

Although there are a total of 14 factions, only seven factions may appear in any one game. The player may choose any combination of original and new factions when starting a game.

Victory conditions Edit

There are several victory methods available in Alpha Centauri. Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire adds one extra victory condition which is only available to the Progenitor factions.

Cooperative 
A Cooperative victory is when a pact brother or pact sister wins the game. This option allows players to complete an 'allied' victory using most of the following methods.
Conquest 
A conquest victory occurs when all factions are annihilated or have surrendered to one player. If cooperative victory is enabled then there may be up to three pact brothers and sisters who can share the victory (excluding those who have surrendered).
Economic 
When a player has enough energy reserves (roughly equal to what it would take to mind-control all the remaining cities on planet), he or she can assert an economic takeover of Planet and win the game. This takes 20 turns to achieve, during which any faction capturing your Headquarters can prevent your victory. A player must also have discovered Planetary Economics in order to utilize this type of Victory.
Diplomatic 
A player achieves diplomatic victory by uniting the Planetary Council behind him or her. To do this, three conditions must be met.
  1. The player must be playing a human faction.
  2. The Progenitor (alien) factions must be eliminated (they cannot have 'sworn a pact to serve you'; they must have been completely eliminated).
  3. The player must get a percentage of the votes, by population, at Planetary Council. The percentage varies based on difficulty level up to 75% at maximum (transcend).

In order to initiate a diplomatic victory, one must have discovered Mind-Machine Interface.

Transcendence 
The transcendence victory is achieved by building the Ascent to Transcendence secret project, which becomes available after the Voice of Planet secret project has been built (by any faction). This concept of a post human era is very closely related to the idea of the technological singularity. After this project is built people leave their material bodies to merge with the emerged planet intelligence. Note: The manual states that the Manifold Caretakers cannot win by Transcendence due to the nature of their mission, which is specifically to prevent transcendence. This is incorrect. The Caretakers cannot build the Voice of Planet secret project, but because of a glitch in the game programming can build the Ascent to Transcendence secret project. This causes the Caretakers to declare vendetta upon themselves and if they do win by transcendence the scorecard claims it as "0 objectives achieved" (but the score is not affected), both of which prove this was clearly unintended, but they can therefore transcend if another faction first builds the Voice of Planet secret project.
Progenitor Victory 
Only the Progenitor factions can win with this victory condition. The player must construct the Resonance Communicator. The Resonance Communicator is a combination of six Subspace Generators. In order for a Subspace Generator to be activated it must be at a base size ten or larger. The Resonance Communicator is used to call the Progenitors' home fleet, which is much more powerful than all the human and the other Progenitor factions combined, so the player wins the game. Even if Cooperative victory is enabled, only the faction that built the Resonance Communicator is considered to have won.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Manual (1999), p.3 (the game disk contains a PDF version)
  2. Casey, Brendan (scient, 2010) "Unofficial SMAC/X Patches Version 1.0", Civilization Gaming Networks Forums, May 7, 2010.
  3. Casey, Brendan (scient, 2009) "Fixing SMACX Bugs", Apolyton Civilizations Site Forums, February 13, 2009.
  4. "Orientation and Moderation", Civilization Gaming Networks Forums, June 19, 2009.
  5. WePlayCiv "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri / Alien Crossfire Unofficial Patch released!", WePlayCiv, May 14, 2010.

External links Edit

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