Civilization IV

By on November 1, 2005

History, as you know it, is history!!

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Herein lies the meat of the game. Once you’ve selected your civilization, leader, world type and climate, you’re plunged into a barren world with no other beings around you, save for a few wild animals who crave for your flesh.

This game literally gives you thousands of things to do, and you have to start off by creating your first city. Once that is done, you can train various types of units, which unlock even more units. As the game progresses, you will unlock a myriad of buildings, arts, sciences and religions. Each type of building you build and science you implement will have a different effect on the game’s core components : commerce, food and productivity. You will also have tonnes of stuff to research, which once finished can be implemented (religions, math, science, etc.) or built (libraries, Stonehenges, catapults etc.). Basically, as you progress through time in the game, it’s like progressing through the different eras in the real world. Modern stuff and better, stronger units become available. Better weapons & techniques like bombardment also become available. These will be required should you choose to go to war with another civilization.

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Exploration is yet another interesting and important factor. When you first start off, you will have only a small square area in the centre of the map, with the surrounding regions shrouded in darkness (this is very common for almost all RTS games). As you send your scouts exploring, these areas light up and reveal what they hold and how useful they may be for building a new city there. You can also build farms and engage in animal husbandry. Later in the game, you will be able to build boats & ships that will enable you to venture out into unknown waters. Once you discover new lands, you can build cities in them and then link all your cities via roads or trade routes. Depending on the world size chosen by you, exploring the whole thing may take up several hours of your time. However, contrary to your thoughts, it never gets boring.

Being a build–your own-civilization–and-run-it kind of game, there’s a lot of politics & diplomacy involved here (in a good way). Depending upon the number of NPC civilizations, you will be contacted by different leaders throughout the game. Some will come to offer peace, others, to declare war. Some will even offer various trades. At these times, you will normally have two or three options as to how to deal with them, and I highly recommend you make peace with them, especially early on in the game. Later on, you will even be able to sign an ‘Open Border’ truce, which will allow that leader’s civs to come into your cities and vice – versa. However, you must be careful about who you let into your territory. A leader may become your friend just to gain access into your territory, only to order his warriors to plunder and lay waste to everything one fine day!! So, beware. You have been warned. The AI in the game is good, and it gets particularly ruthless at the higher difficulty settings.

Now let’s move on to the biggest & most important factor; a factor that can make or break a strategy game’s success : the interface. Before you run away screaming and tearing at your hair because you saw the screenshots, let me tell you this; the game’s interface is NOT complicated. Believe me. It’s like I said earlier, if I can actually understand an RTS game, then it’s got to be easy and simple.

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Thankfully, Civilization IV is an easy and simple game to manage. Although you may not like windows popping up in your face frequently, the interface is well designed and integrated seamlessly into the game. You have a Details Box (lower left corner) which presents info. about the currently selected unit or structure. The Mini Map is well placed in the lower right corner, with your country’s flag and the ‘End Turn’ button next to it. In the center, is the Actions Box – the heart of the control system. It is through this box that you issue orders to warriors & archers and assign work to workers & scouts. At the top of the screen, you have the Research Bar (which shows what you’re currently researching and the no. of turns required), the Advisor Buttons, Date and the Civilopedia button. “Civil-o-what ?”, you say ?

The Civilopedia is your in – game help resource. It contains entries on every single item and concept in the game, so by the looks of it, newbies are going to be spending a lot of time with it.
That wraps up the interface. Complicated ? No. Deep ? Complex ? Yes, and in a good way.

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The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
9.3
Truckloads of stuff to be done; lots to build & explore, and a complex & deep yet user-friendly system.
GRAPHICS
8
Surpasses most RTS titles with good textures and neat looking graphics. Animations are superb.
SOUND
8
Great original music score and good sound effects to match. Excellent voice-overs by Leonard Nimoy.
VALUE
9.5
Unmatched variety & insanely addictive gameplay in the singleplayer game is taken one step further by multiplayer gaming.
FUN FACTOR
8
Great gameplay coupled with good graphics & sound make this a very good all-rounder.
OVERALL
9
This game is as close as you will get to controlling the world!

About

Loves video games lots, but loves video game development even more. Has a Bachelor's degree in the field, yet the technical complexity behind those billions of interactive pixels boggles his mind. His brain will either conjure up the next best game or turn into gravy in 5 years time.

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