Civilization III Complete

Genre: Strategy
Release Year: 2004
Developer: Firaxis Games
Publisher: Atari
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

Another entry into the ever-popular politician/dictator/god simulator series, Civilization III released to critical acclaim in 2001 and went on to sell millions of copies. Since we’ve covered Civilization II and IV, it seems only right that we take a look at the third game in the series. Fortunately, this one isn’t too difficult to get running. The version of the game we’re looking at here is the “Complete” edition, which was released in 2004 and includes the two expansion packs that were previously released for the game. This version is also the version that comes in the popular Civilization Chronicles box set.


The game should install just fine from its original retail CDs. Simply place the first CD in your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games installer does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Autorun.exe” file manually. During the installation process, you will be asked if you wish to install Gamespy Arcade. You can skip this step since the Gamespy Arcade service shut down several years ago.

If you are installing the game from the Steam digital download service, simply use the Steam client to install the game as normal.

Civilization 3 saves game data and configuration files to its installation directory. On more modern versions of Windows, this can be a problem due to the default security settings prohibiting apps from writing data to the program files folder. To work around this, either install the game to another directory (e.g C:\Games) or see the troubleshooting section under “Problems saving games and configuration files”.


If you’re using the original CD version of the game, you should download and install the latest patch before starting to play. The latest patch is 1.29 and you can obtain it here.

The patch is downloaded as a zip file. To install it, simply open the zip file and run the single, executable file that lurks within. Answer “Yes” if the installer prompts you to overwrite a read-only file.

For the Steam digital download version, patching is automatic so no further action is required after installing the game.

Playing in Widescreen

Unlike many PC games, Civilization III doesn’t really have a host of graphical options to tweak. There is one small tweak you may wish to perform, however. By default, the game is locked to a fixed resolution. If you have a modern monitor, you will probably want to play the game in widescreen mode, rather than have black borders around the game or have the games graphics stretched and distorted.

To play in widescreen, first of all make sure you have started the game at least once since installing it on your PC, just getting as far as the title screen should be perfectly fine. Now we need to edit a configuration file, so open Computer/This PC and browse to the games folder which can be found by default in one of two locations:-

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Sid Meier’s Civilization III Complete\Conquests (for the Steam version)
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Civilization III Complete\Conquests (for the retail version)


Next, find the file called “conquests.ini” and open it in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with the process of editing configuration files, you can find a beginners tutorial here.

With the conquests.ini file open in your editor, scroll to the bottom of the file and simply add the following line


Now, save the file and start the game again. If you find you cannot save the newly modified conquests.ini file, see the troubleshooting section under “Problems saving games and configuration files”. The game now will run in whatever resolution you have your desktop set to, which should, of course, be your monitors optimal screen resolution. The games cut-scenes will still run in low resolution, but the game itself will be in glorious widescreen.


Problems saving games and configuration files – Like many older games, Civilization III stores its save game files and various configuration files in its installation directory. If you installed the game into the program files or program files (x86) folders, you may find that the default Windows security settings prevent the game from saving any progress. To fix this problem, set the permissions on the “Civilization III Complete” folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here.

By default, the games installation directory is placed at one of two possible locations.

  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Sid Meier’s Civilization III Complete (for the Steam version)
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Civilization III Complete (for the retail version)


Permissions should be set automatically on the Steam version, but the retail version will need the folder permissions to be set if it is installed in the default directory.


Click on the screenshot to enlarge it.


As always, finding new ways to kill your enemies is a big part of the game.



  1. Helen C says:

    I prefer III to IV or V so have stayed in the past and I have had my version of Complete for a couple of years and really like it. Recently it started misbehaving. When I get to the year 2050 it no longer asks if I want to continue. It just freezes up, spinning circle, says the game has stopped working, then shuts down. I reloaded the software which crazily had a glitch with the sound files (obstacle overcome) but the end of game problem still exists. I suspect some update in some unrelated system has messed me up, but have no way to figuring it out, much less undoing it (you know, like upgrading to Windows 10).

    I thought to just re-install the original Civ III but when it tries that disk, it says I am missing a .dll file which I can clearly see listed in the files, so it is corrupted. Obviously I can buy new software, but I thought first I would see if anyone had experienced these issues before and had worked out the bugs. If not, maybe I can start a conversation about the software versions. Mine came as a set with Civ III and Civ IV on one disk. Does more data make them get corrupted faster? That doesn’t really make sense. I guess what I am asking is would buying just Civ III make it work better?

  2. Jeffery says:

    Nothing lasts forever, I know its a bitter pill, but that’s technology.
    Download Steam and buy it there and download it. Its like $10.
    The upside is that its always there to download, no matter how many times you change computers, its always up to date and no issues.
    Youre right civ III is the best, and through modifications you can keep the graphics fresh if not up to todays standards.

    Happy civing.

  3. Rupam says:

    I tried this game few weeks earlier, good but I would prefer to play total war due to the busy UX even though both types of games are very interesting…

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