Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Civilization: Call to Power

Go To
Civilization: Call to Power, released in 1999 by Activision, is a 4X turn-based strategy spin-off of the Civilization series. It is technically part of the Civilization series proper, but only by way of having "Civilization" in the title.note  It also had a sequel which dropped "Civilization" from the title entirely, Call to Power 2. Compared to Civilization II, then the most recent installment in the Civilization series, it has quite a few unique gameplay concepts:

  • Tile improvements, known as Public Works (or PWs), have to be placed manually by the player - there are no workers to auto-build them for you. Furthermore, PWs can't be built without PW points, which are generated by allocating a set amount of your civilization's total production aside specifically for that purpose. Aside from the more obvious uses, like improving a tile's production/gold output or building roads, you can use PW points, along with certain technologies, to terraform landmassees to your liking to get the optimum balance of food, production, and gold output.
  • Once the appropriate technologies are researched, players can build underwater and space-based colonies, with each region having its own pros and cons, such as space having absolutely no terrain whatsoever, making space-based transportation and colony-building a breeze, but all space colonies require special tile improvements just for basic things like production and food.
  • Pollution plays a major role in the happiness of your citizens; plus, if you don't keep it in check, excessive pollution can cause a variety of global disasters...
  • Combat mechanics is simple but quite advanced for the genre, with an actually shown, turn-based battle sequence featuring up to 9 units on each side and with various combat roles (shock troops, artillery etc.).

Civilization: Call to Power also had some concepts, such as waging corporate warfare using lawyers and corporate branches, which were later seen in other games in the Civilization series proper. Call to Power 2 also has a dedicated open-source development team ever since the source code to the game was released in 2003, adding new gameplay and anti-frustration features as well as gameplay automation.

Both games provides examples of:

  • Army of Lawyers: Once you reach the Modern Era, you can literally train Lawyers and Corporate Branches to wage economic warfare on your enemies.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: The players set salaries and food rations.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Space bombers, which bomb targets from space.
  • Extinct Animal Park: Researching genetic tailoring allows you to build the Dinosaur Park wonder of the world. Building the Park triples the value of trade goods in the host city, representing the massive boon to business and commerce that the park brings. According to the flavor text, the major breakthrough that made it possible came with the invention of the artificial womb in the 22nd century.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Most of the more repressive governments (Tyranny, Fascism, Communism) provide production bonuses (or in the case of tyranny, less of a penalty), but they cannot support as many cities and have a reduced economic output. Averted for Technocracy, which has strong bonuses all around (although it's still more production and less economy focused than the more open governments).
  • Gameplay Automation: None whatsoever in Civilization: Call to Power - which can prove incredibly annoying when you have a large empire or your new underwater/space colonies need to have their basic infrastructure built up. Thankfully, Call to Power 2 added some automation tasks like being able to assign production tasks to all cities simultaneously. When the source code to Call to Power 2 became open-source, the community added more forms of gameplay automation.
  • Garden of Eden: The Eden Project wonder destroys the three most polluting cities in the world, leaving unspoiled countryside where they stood.
  • Geo Effects: Much like the Civilization games, terrain gives bonuses and penalties in combat depending on who's attacking and who's defending. Once you reach the Genetic Age, though, you can invoke this yourself (see the Terraform entry).
  • Global Warming: Since Civilization: Call To Power and its sequel continue much further into the future than a normal game in the main Civilization series, this concept is taken to its logical conclusion. The problem gets much, much worse before ultimately getting better through the use of advanced technology (and, possibly, ecoterrorism). Of course, by that point, the majority of your population will have likely already relocated to undersea cities and/or space - both of which don't suffer from pollution whatsoever - rendering the point somewhat moot.
  • Hovertank: The Fusion tank is a future military unit that fills a similar role to modern day tanks (a bit more expensive, but fast moving and strong on all combat stats.) They can travel on shallow water in addition to land.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Averted by way of of advanced plasma and fusion-based weaponry, available starting in the Genetic and Diamond eras, respectively.
  • Made a Slave: You can send your Slavers to capture slaves in foreign cities. These slaves will not be paid and will eat half a food ration. This also happens in the background with many futuristic dystopian improvements, such as the mind control devices to ensure civilian 'happiness' and productivity.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Leviathan unit is the ultimate example in game. Only can move 1 square per turn, even on roads, but has the highest combat stats of any unit.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Subverted. The Diamond Age government Ecotopia uses a lot of hippie, flower-power aesthetics, but they're a society built around violent ecoterrorism and defending the environment by force, up to and including mass destruction through nanotechnology, so they're not about peace and love, man. Likewise, while they have a certain degree of neo-primitivism in their aesthetics, they are actually excellent scientists who use advanced technology to clean up pollution, minimize humanity's ecological footprint and destroy polluters.
  • Non-Human Head: The Televangelist units have TV sets for heads.
  • Privately Owned Society: Under "Corporatist Republic".
  • Rock Beats Laser: Played straight throughout most of the game. Your small, battle-hardened group of plasma tanks and rocket-wielding mecha can still get their butts handed to them by a large group of well-fortified, freshly-trained spearmen, though they will take very heavy losses and be at a disadvantage. Averted by anything which is in space - such units and colonies cannot be harmed by anything except units which can actually fight in space.
  • Schizo Tech: Much like in the main Civilization games, this is bound to happen when a player runs away with a science civilization. Not satisfied with crushing enemy spearmen using your rocket-wielding mecha? Build space bombers and obliterate them from orbit, safe from the effects of Rock Beats Laser!
  • Slave Liberation: You can train Abolitionists and have them free slaves from other nations. The former slaves will automatically become full citizens of your closest city.
  • Space Plane: You can build several kinds of units that can launch themselves into space, including an actual Space Plane unit, and a unit called a Space Fighter.
  • Terraform: PW points can be spent to transform the landscape to your whims - which is important since certain terrain types, such as jungles and swamplands, prevent output-boosting tile improvements from being built. It's also useful since certain terrain types, when combined with appropriate PWs, provide massive boosts to a city's production/gold or food output.
    • Once you reach the Genetic Age, you'll be able to use this to invoke Geo Effects for fun and profit. Want to protect your territory from annoying sea and land invaders? Bring their efforts to a crawl by building an entire man-made mountain range! Unfortunately, this is quite impractical at best since the PW points required to do so over even a small area are enormous, and if your enemies have access to large fleets of air transports - or worse, space transports - such an artificial barrier becomes rather ineffective.
  • The Theocracy: You can become one.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Enslave your enemies and make them eat half food rations! Make your citizens work for starvation rations and meager salaries!

Civilization: Call to Power provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The AI Entity has a 3% chance of revolting against the Civ that build it. Seeing how it rules with absolute authority and removes all dissent...
  • Big Brother Is Watching:
    • The AI surveillance technology and associated surveillance improvement.
    • The Technocracy government makes use of this surveillance system in an extreme 1984 based manner, and is the most repressive government type in the game.
    • Two wonders, The Agency and the AI Entity. The AI Entity in particular is terrifying—see for yourself, but the Agency doesn't lack for disturbing, either.
  • The Computer Is Your Friend: The AI Entity allows you to run your civilization with absolute efficiency... until it rebels against you.
  • Eye of Providence: The AI Entity is shown in its cutscene as a gigantic pyramid topped by a single, all-seeing eye.
  • Fictional Field of Science: One of the victory conditions is to complete the Alien Life Project.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The W.I.A. of The Agency wonder. Apparently they watch over and remove any "dissent" against the government, even if you're at home.
    Agent:We've got our eye on you.
  • Hippie Van: The outward appearance of the Eco Ranger. It's actually a nanite-based WMD by the way.
  • Human Popsicle: Cryogenic freezing chambers eventually become an option once the right technologies have been researched. In addition to their normal benefit of boosting gold output, they also provide citizens of a Theocratic government a happiness boost as your televangelists claim they allow you to experience heaven and return. Derive from that what you will.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The ESP Center video dialogue.
  • Intimate Lotion Application: The cutscene for the "Sensorium" wonder shows an inhabitant of a dystopian future city entering a VR fantasy world where he's lounging on a beach. The clip ends as an unseen woman asks him to put lotion on her back.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Sensorium wonder removes unhappiness from overcrowding and pollution by giving people the vacation they want.
  • Match Cut: Used in the opening video each time there's a change of era (for example, a flag flying over a castle gatehouse to the same flag over a 20th-century building; then the building being destroyed by tanks to its ruins surrounded by futuristic tower blocks).
  • Nano Machines: One of the major developments of the future, and the basis for many wonders.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Eco Ranger unit. Don't let that brightly-painted Flower Power exterior fool you. What it kills, in one hit, is a city. That cutscene is inspired by, and borrows the music from, AKIRA. That says everything you need to know right there. Its method of operation, on the other hand, is a direct tribute to the Genesis Device.
  • Philosopher's Stone: It doesn't induce immortality but it does open embassies in every other civ.
  • Settling the Frontier: You can settle Sea and Space, and each have their own unique benefits and downsides.
  • Space Elevator: The Star Ladder. It also grants a space city above the host city and free space travel.
  • Synthetic Plague: You can use units to spread plague in enemy cities in the future, and it will spread to anyone trading with them. However, it doesn't actually kill off the population: instead, it is designed to cause unpleasant symptoms and hallucinations, causing major unhappiness.
  • Terraform: The Eden Project and Eco Ranger units are a weaponized version of this. In the Eden Project movie, an Eco Ranger drives into city, opens up its back, and detonates. In a flash the entire city and everyone in it is gone and in their place is a field of green. In game the Eco Rangers destroy the target city and all improvements within 2 tiles.
  • Underwater City: You can build them in The Future.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: One of the wonders is an immunity chip.

Call to Power 2 provides examples of: