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Civilization IV Review
publisher: 2K Games
developer: Firaxis Games
PIV 1200, 256MB RAM, 1.7GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Oct 24, 05
|» All About Civilization IV on ActionTrip|
When writing about management games, there are usually two ways in which you can approach the task. You can either start detailing about all the added features, or you can choose to forego the preview-like approach to writing and concentrate on the critique and your general subjective opinion of the gameplay itself. Personally, I favor the latter approach to review writing, but when it comes to such elaborate management games as Civilization IV, certain exceptions have to be made. So in light of that, I would like to note that, in certain parts of this review, I have used some of the information on the new features as presented on http://www.civfanatics.com/civ4/.
A tank > Dude with SMG.
2Lions is teh winnar!!
The Civilization series has long been considered Sid Meier's best work. Since its conception, the series has evolved through many 'eras' in the game industry. It has seen 2D games come and go, while still managing to retain its unique feel of a computer-generated board game. Somewhere along the line, it made the transition to 3D graphics, but not to an extent that would change its primary focus, which was the board game-like gameplay approach. Civilization IV is no different in those regards. Sid Meier explains it (in a lengthy and comprehensive tutorial) as a very elaborate board game that will have you leading your people from the ancient times into the modern day and age, advancing its culture, military, economy, and religion, while fending off attacks and using cunning diplomacy to gain more influence and territory in the world.
Before I list the new features here, let me just say that one of the primary reasons why Civilization IV stands out from any of the previous titles in the series, is not *just* its much more elaborate approach to empire building and the myriad of new gameplay options. In my mind, it's the best "game shell" ever built for a management simulation. A game shell in this case is comprised of an absolutely fantastic-looking interface, which only uses the 3D option to give you a sense of the planet being a sphere and not a simple 2D map. In game, this looks incredibly effective. In addition, the dynamic sound effects will heighten the sense of immersion as they adjust to how much you've zoomed in on the land. Zooming the camera all the way out will take you above the clouds, giving you a sense of God-like presence. Conceptually, this is similar to what Lionhead did in Black and White, only much more functional. In fact, you could say that that is the prevailing motif of Civilization IV - every option and its appearance is more purposeful and streamlined. Because of the insane number of selections as well as the incredibly comprehensive tech-tree, inexperienced Civ players will definitely need some time to learn all the basics of gameplay.
The great thing about Civ 4 is that in addition to looking great, the interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use (that being its primary purpose), so really, the game lets you be as detailed or as superficial as you choose. Everything can be automated and yet if you want to truly master the craft of playing this game, you will make sure to understand everything that's going on around your empire. At any time, Sid Meier and the gang will give you a helpful tip or recommend the unit or building you should be producing next.
Again, the most important fact about the game shell that I'm trying to communicate here is that it's extremely enjoyable, functional and intuitive, managing to scale the complexity of the game to your playing needs. The number of gameplay additions is commendable to say the least, but it's this extremely sleek design of the basic mechanics that will get the newcomers hooked on the series.
In light of that, I should also mention that the soundtrack in Civilization IV is one of the most soothing, fulfilling and fitting I have heard in a video game yet. This was clearly a labor of love for Firaxis Games, and this is reflected in so many different facets of game design.
You could say that Civ IV was designed so that it addresses the issues that made the previous games less fluent and fun to play than they should have been.
To start with, Firaxis has replaced certain elements that were known to drag the gameplay down, elements such as corruption, riots, and pollution in previous Civ games, with better systems. For example, instead of pollution, Civilization IV will have a city health system. Some city improvements reduce the health of city, while others increase its health. Food resources such as wheat and fish also increase the health of your cities, and they are tradable just like the luxury and strategic resources in Civilization III. Building the city near a source of fresh water will also improve your city health.
The fixed governments are now replaced by a much more flexible Civics system, somewhat similar to the social engineering system in Alpha Centauri. The new system allows you to customize your government with various civics options that are classified into five categories: Government, Legal, Labor, Economy, and Religion. There are five options in each category. Players are free to choose any combination of civics. Some of the known civics are Free Market, Environmentalism, Slavery, Serfdom, Free Speech, Conscription, Emancipation, and Nationhood. Civics options are unlocked through research.
More fun, feature-rich, prettier looking and sounding, and more functional than the previous Civ games;
Unit management and certain aspects of combat.