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Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire is more than just the official expansion pack to Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. In fact, gameplay is doubled with the introduction of seven new factions, of which two are alien based. Throw in the new faction editor and the add-on expands gameplay even further with unlimited faction design possible. The game contains room to store up to eight custom-made factions in addition to the seven new groups included in Alien Crossfire. The seven new factions included are listed below with a short synopsis of each and their major characteristics.
Cult of Planet. The leader is Prophet Cha Dawn, a young boy who claims to have access to the Word of Planet and promises to return Planet to its native state at the expense of the other factions. The Cult is aggressive with a tendency toward exploration and conquest. The close harmony with native life forms provides a planetary bonus but their aversion to wealth slows the faction down.
Cybernetic Consciousness. Led by Prime Function Aki Zeta-Five, these Cyborgs are passive explorers who strive to discover industry and technological advances. The faction relies on pure intellect and discounts emotions and wealth as excess baggage to be avoided. Their plan is to regain order through technology and the faction enjoys bonuses in both research (knowledge) and efficiency (no emotions).
Data Angels. This is the "techie" faction that gains technology via constant spying on other groups. Their goal is to subjugate other factions through espionage and total control of all computer systems. The leader is Datajack Sinder Roze whose commitment to covert operations is eagerly embraced by her followers. A bonus in probe technology and an award of free Covert Ops Centers in each base, following discovery of Pre-Sentient Algorithms, help this faction to pursue their priorities of building and discovery.
Drones. Foreman Domai, the Drones' leader, fight against the oppression of laborers on Planet. The idea of superiority through the might of industrialization (at the cost of scientific research and advances) feeds this faction. A bonus in industry is offset by a corresponding penalty in research for the Drones. Their faction has a 75% chance of acquiring new membership whenever workers revolt in the other factions.
Nautilus Pirates. For those interested in a swashbuckling attempt at domination through a faction with no aversions whatsoever, the Captain Ulrik Svensgaard-led pirates exploit and mine riches found in the high seas (deep seas as well). The faction believes in their right to control Planet's oceans and receives a bonus in mineral resources with free Naval Yards at each base once they've discover the Doctrine of Initiative.
The final two new factions are alien-culture based:
Manifold Caretakers. Members of the original Progenitor race that initially created Planet, the Manifold Caretakers believe strongly in the doctrine of non-interference with all life forms. The followers of Guardian Lular H'minee use their instinctive ties to the planet and a defensive mechanism known as "resonance sensitivity" to eliminate any chance of enemy sneak attacks or trickery. A whopping 25% bonus on defense makes the Caretakers a tough opponent to subjugate, especially with their aggressive nature and propensity for exploration, discovery and conquest.
Manifold Usurpers. Directly opposite the Caretakers' philosophy of protecting the sanctity of the Sixth Manifold is the philosophy of exploiting it, a fundamental characteristic of the Manifold Usurpers. Also from the original race of Progenitors, Conqueror Judaa Maar and her faction believe the Sixth Manifold experiment is over on Planet and it's now time to use the powers of Planet for military aggression and conquest. Like the Caretakers, they, too, are aggressive conquerors who have a 25% bonus on offense.
The game contains a vast array of enhancements, improvements and expansions. Eight new facilities dot the landscape, each with specific building and maintenance costs, prerequisite technologies and effects. Four secret projects and a host of new units, both armament and defensive, are yours to discover as well as special abilities (e.g., Marine Detachments or Fuel Nanocells) and brand new technologies. As in the original, SMAC supports up to seven players over the Internet or on a LAN. Modem and serial play supports two player action.
Fortunately for the other five factions, the two alien groups are embroiled in a bitter civil war. At the core of Alien Crossfire is the player's many choices of strategic planning driven by an initial decision as to which faction to control. Do you sell out the other factions by joining forces with one of the alien cultures or would you prefer to guide an alien force to victory? Which factions can you trust and which are you willing to join forces with in order to gain your objectives. These and many other decisions await you in Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire.
ADDENDUM JAN 2000: More than two dozen enhancements and changes have been addressed in a 5.04MB patch released in mid-December 1999 by Firaxis. Issues fixed by the patch include such items as pirates no longer being able to capture defending-base units, voiceover concerns, airdrops into your own base, faction abilities and much more. You can download the patch at www.firaxis.com. ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide