I played BE and reviewed it. Calling it a ‘terrible game’ seems unduly harsh, but I have never been able to understand the fine gradations of good and bad within the 4x genre, I suppose. I only grok RPGs to that degree, maybe.
As for SMAC, I have little experience with it but did find it quite playable in the GoG version a year or two ago. Some games just don’t date that much, thankfully.
Naw terrible is mild. Sid Meirs:Beyond Earth is execrable piece of software (not even worthy of being called a game, since game implies some modicum of fun) that shameless exploits the Sid Meirs and Civilization brands to extract money for Take two corporate coffers. It is not worth a $1 or an hour of anyone time.
But I played it for a couple of dozen hours and enjoyed it well enough, so again, whatever fine perception makes, say, Civ IV “brilliant” while BE is “execrable” is apparently beyond me. Not saying the former is not better than the latter, but the wide range of adjectives used to describe entries in this genre is something I have always found bewildering.
The end game is so bad, so incredibly bad, it makes you think the designers must never have played a 4x for fun in their lives.
Seriously, 75 or however many turns it is of clicking next turn and waiting 5 minutes for the brain-dead AI to jiggle all its units around and then clicking next turn and after 5 minutes, they all jiggle back. This is as bad as a game gets. It’s literally punishment to play.
This also applies to late-game Civ 5 and Civ 6 in many respects, but at least there is some kind of dynamic goal state you are trying to achieve instead of just clicking next turn and waiting for the automatic victory to occur.
Yes the beginning of the game was almost sort of interesting. Now lots of 4x and builder games struggle with a challenging end game. But as you describe perfectly, it takes a rare talent to combine, unimaginative victory conditions, with awful AI, and miserable performance.
Many years ago at a GDG conference, I asked a pretty senior Firaxis executive after we had bonded over a day long workship. Ok tell me the truth how much input does Sid really have into the games that he isn’t the actual designer. He said "Sid looks at every game, and provides input but mostly he makes sure the games are fun. ". There is no way Sid actually played BE to completion and called it fun.
The 22 hours I spent masochistically enduring BE, I want back.
BE literally offends me with its badness. It’s an complete turd of which everyone involved in the design should be ashamed. I’m not exaggerating; it’s a complete failure of game design. The marketing was pretty good, though.
That’s because you are wrong, Gordon. Wrong in your brain. Unable to detect the miasma, you float along, your tissues corrupting as your oblivious mind gently strokes each seed of horror.
“Trade routes aren’t so bad,” your consciousness rambles. “I love resetting them every few turns.”
“Purple is fantastic. Beats everything but green. Oh look, green!”
“I love choosing ideologies,” you say, bemused. “This one is orange. That’s a little +1 defense right over here on my units I’ll eventually build. Hope those suckers over there don’t expect that, and get that terrible +1 to offense!”
I kid, but really BE is a poison that will turn your brain against itself until you're drooling in the corner, buying loot boxes for a mobile game you didn't even want to play in the first place.
RIP Firaxis, is what I’m trying to say here. I hope I’m not being too dramatic.