Is Sid Meier’s Civilization III (2001), Worth Playing?
Sid Meier’s Civilization III was in many ways the “last traditional” Civilization III, and yet even 22 years later, it stands out as one of the best titles in the series, assuming you can get it to run on modern operating systems.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: 4X Strategy
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: 2K
Price: $4.99+
Release Date: 30 October 2001
Supported Modes:

Compatibility Issues.

While Sid Meier’s Civilization III can be played on Windows 10/11, it was made for a much older operating system, and this means that players who want to play Sid Meier’s Civilization III on modern operating systems will need to undertake a selection of config edits and compatibility tweaks.

While these tweaks are nothing to worry about for an experienced PC user, to a causal user, they would appear daunting, requiring players to edit ini files, set compatibility options manually, and, in some cases, set launch parameters for the exe file, no easy feat for a timid or inexperienced PC user.

Even after all of this is done, Sid Meier’s Civilization III is not the most stable game in 2023, and crashes and lockups are common when starting each new game, with some players reporting that setting any option to random has a chance of causing a crash, while others have reported that having no random map options can cause the game to lock up entirely.

For those with fond memories of Sid Meier’s Civilization III or a keen interest in game preservation, it is worth the effort; for everyone else, I recommend getting one of the newer titles, as, unlike Sid Meier’s Civilization III, they work right out of the box.



Sid Meier’s Civilization III is one of the cheapest 4X games on Steam, retailing at just $4.99, and often goes on sale for around $1, an astonishingly good price, considering that it is the complete edition, and includes the base game and both expansion packs.

That being said, as of 2014, the official servers are no longer online, and Sid Meier’s Civilization III cannot be played online without third-party matchmaking or LAN software.

Short Lifespan

As of September 2023, Civilization III is the shortest-lived Civilization title in the franchise’s history, enjoying just under four years of support before Civilization IV superseded it in late 2005.

  • Sid Meier’s Civilization (1991-1996): A lifespan of five years.
  • Civilization II (1996-2001): A lifespan of five years.
  • Civilization III (2001-2005): A lifespan of four years.
  • Civilization IV (2005-2010): A lifespan of five years.
  • Civilization V (2010-2016): A lifespan of six years.
  • Civilization VI (2016 – 202?): A lifespan of seven years and counting.



While visually, Sid Meier’s Civilization III is very dated, and being forced to play in 1024 x 768 is not ideal in 2023, the art style employed by Sid Meier’s Civilization III is one of the best in the history of the franchise, and while the UI is awful, the textures and sprites used are some of the cleanest in the history of the franchise, and in my honest opinion are more aesthetically pleasing than those used in recent entries such as Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, despite being demonstrably lower quality.

Last Traditional Civilization Sequel.

While the legacy of Sid Meier’s Civilization (1991) is evident right up to and including the latest entry, some aspects of Sid Meier’s Civilization have fallen away over time, with Sid Meier’s Civilization III being the last title that emphasized quantity over quality, when it came to managing a kingdom. While both Sid Meier’s Civilization II and Sid Meier’s Civilization III improved upon the game before it, they were ultimately safe sequels that enhanced what was already there and, where possible, added a little more variety without making major changes to how that series was played.

In short, Sid Meier’s Civilization veterans could pick up Sid Meier’s Civilization II and Sid Meier’s Civilization III and essentially “jump right in” without needing a tutorial, as while there were new mechanics here and there, the early sequels were eternally better versions of Sid Meier’s Civilization and could be enjoyed in the same way.

Starting with Sid Meier’s Civilization IV, the Civilization franchise took its first steps toward becoming a modern 4X title, and while Sid Meier’s Civilization IV would retain many aspects of Sid Meier’s Civilization III and earlier, its focus on new mechanics and new ways to govern and fight, was a sign of what was to come.

By the time Sid Meier’s Civilization V launched, swarm-based combat mechanics were almost extinct. By Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, players were no longer required to build massive content-spanning empires and field massive armies to remain competitive, with the concepts of quality over quantity and building tall now being entirely viable for players who would rather create a small but powerful empire, over a sprawling empire that becomes a victim of its success, a trend which continues and is improved upon in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, with some players reporting that a single city empire is not only possible but could be preferable in some scenarios.



Sid Meier’s Civilization III contains an abundance of scenarios with modified rules and custom gameplay mechanics, including a wide selection of historical and alternative history scenarios for players to enjoy, including the Napoleonic Wars, the Pacific theatre of WWII, and the rise and eventual fall of the Roman Empire.


On even its lowest settings, Sid Meier’s Civilization III is far more difficult than modern Civilization games on higher difficulties, with Sid Meier’s Civilization III, on average, playing two difficulty levels higher its Sid Meier’s Civilization IV and later counterparts.

However, much of this is not intended and varies by map due to the way that Sid Meier’s Civilization III allows AI players to cheat and share all of their research, resources and technologies upon first encounter, something that players will seldom, if ever be able to accomplish, without cheats or an overwhelming military presence.

Because of this, maps that feature multiple smaller islands are much easier than those with large landmasses due to the AI lacking the ability to say no to even the most uneven and often ridiculous trade requests from other AI controlled Civilizations while having no issue with demanding players trade a king’s ransom and a library full of technologies in exchange for two horses and a bunch of bananas.


Sid Meier's Civilization III FAQ

Sid Meier's Civilization III is a 4x strategy video game developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K, it was released on 30 October 2001 and retails for $4.99+.

Platform Availability.

Sid Meier's Civilization III is available exclusively on PC.

Are The Developers Active?

Sid Meier's Civilization III is no longer in active development, and the developers have moved on to other projects.

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Final Verdict.

Sid Meier’s Civilization III is one of my favourite titles in the history of the franchise, and I spent hundreds of hours playing it when it was first released (and for many years after); however, I will be the first to admit, that it has very little to offer the average gamer, compared to later entries in the series. Therefore, I can only recommend it to series enthusiasts and game preservation advocates.

Is Sid Meier's Civilization III Worth Playing In 2024?

Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Sid Meier's Civilization III" a rating of 6/10, which means, while it is mediocre/average, and has its fair share of issues, the average gamer would not regret playing it.

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