Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: Reflections
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: Reflections is a geopolitical megagame based on Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri™ (SMAC), a strategy computer game released by Firaxis Software in 1999.
By 2060, Earth has fallen prey to myriad catastrophes. Humanity's survival as a species is in doubt. The United Nations launches an emergency expedition to the nearest habitable planet, Chiron, located in the Alpha Centauri star system. For forty years, an unsteady and ever-shifting alliance of great power patrons, mega-corporations, and public interest groups pours the sum total of their wealth and talent into this venture. Despite setbacks of every variety, not the least of which included war and sabotage, the starship Unity and her cargo of 250,000 souls leaves the light of our familiar sun and enters, after a seventy-year journey, into the embrace of a new and alien star. But her odyssey is far from over. Scarcely a month before she is scheduled to land, a micrometeorite slams into Unity's hull. Senior officers awaken to a nightmarescape of fire, darkness, and cold. In the mad rush to save the ship, the noble mission will be dissolved. Instead, factions will emerge, each brandishing its own ideological prescriptions for taming the harsh new world below.
SMAC was the direct successor of the turn-based classic, Civilization 2, and a masterpiece of design in its own right, introducing many new innovations to the 4X genre that have not been matched to this day. The saying power of SMAC, however, is explained not by its mechanics, but arises from the power and quality of the story that framed them. The leaders of each faction had fully-realized personalities and sharp-edged agendas that made them feel alive. Better yet, they spoke to the anxieties of the global moment in a unique and compelling way. It was impossible not to think of the fecklessness of "humanitarian intervention" when looking at the Peacekeeping Forces, or of the fearful implications of genetic tampering when contemplating the University's ethical deficiencies.
Each faction’s philosophy implicitly answered three questions. First, what is the essential truth of the universe? Second, why did civilization on Earth fail? Third, what is needed to ensure humanity’s survival into the future? The distinctiveness of each answer went a very long way toward explaining why players found developer Brian Reynolds’s fiction so engrossing.
Together, we will re-imagine this story of humanity’s exodus from Earth and its earliest steps on Chiron. As a player, you will take the part of a faction leader, one of many officers and administrators tasked with ensuring the success of your civilization’s greatest endeavor to date. Naturally, your convictions about what went wrong on Earth, and consequently, what is required to ensure survival today and tomorrow, are utterly at odds with those of your peers. Gameplay will focus on political, military, economic, and social interactions within and between your factions and the colonies they create.