Colonization. PC version pounds 44.99 (floppy disk or CD-Rom). Mac version pounds 39.99 (CD-Rom only). MicroProse. 01454 329510.

Fed up with real history? Why not make up your own?

Walter Raleigh discovered the New World in 1494. He would have got there sooner, but for the first couple of turns, he just wandered around the ocean, thoroughly lost. When he did eventually land, he was met by the Arawaks, friendly natives who regularly dropped by to give presents of furs, food and ore - until they got tired of having the squares near them ravaged and staged a bloody raid.

Undeterred by this, or by the fact that he was only a character in a computer strategy game, Raleigh spent 200 years building up his colonial empire. He started exporting fur before moving into cigars and rum. A stream of colonists jostled on the docks to join him - lumberjacks, carpenters, missionaries, statesmen, soldiers, weavers, pioneers, blacksmiths and convicted felons to name but a few.

The other colonial powers - France, Spain and Holland - were also bothersome. Their soldiers kept trying to capture Raleigh's towns, and he had to send privateers - not to be mistaken for pirate ships - to teach them a lesson. A costly war ensued.

Having conquered the Dutch and exterminated the Tupi, Raleigh decided to do something about the King's ruinous taxes, which were hitting 40 per cent. The English expeditionary force was large and well equipped, but no match for the colonist's guerrilla tactics, and American independence was declared 40 years earlier than the history books claim.

Asked after the game whether he would do it all again, President Raleigh cited a few small problems. Sometimes units on long expeditions would take cross-country short cuts that were really far longer than roundabout routes on the roads he had built. He also found the constant movement of goods from port to port a bit repetitive, and the method of automating trade routes inadequate. The blatant US bias was a bit irksome for a loyal monarchist, as he still insists he is.

On balance, however, he has become addicted, and only an Internet version allowing several players to join in - as Microprose has done with Civilization, the precursor to Colonization - would satisfy his megalomaniac craving for more.

PAUL RODGERS

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