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You may well have heard of Sid Meier’s Civilization, perhaps upon its first release or you might have seen one of its many mutated forms. One thing is certain, that the original founder of Micro Prose has made the Civilization series his ‘cheval de bataille’; an incredibly large game which is still much admired and played, both by original fans of the series and by new gamers alike.
The fourth version of the game has a much improved engine, which some reviewers have raved about for its flexibility and for a streamlined interface and micro-management.
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Generally the graphics look functional and you constantly have an idea of how your Civilization is growing. Due to the fact that the game focuses on its management aspects and the growth of civilizations through the ages, there is no more than it’s needed in terms of eye-candy.
You always get a feel of the age you move through by looking around though; from the steel and railroads of the industrial age to glowing uranium plants and nuclear weapons.
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The Civilization games are know for their turn-based game-play. This means that you have a number of turns within which to finish whatever you are working on, whether it be a building or a unit-type. This type of board-game effect can turn players completely off in some cases.
The interface and overall game-play is where the game is really polished; you can control absolutely any aspect of it, such as assigning workers via the city-screen, controlling taxes or choosing to focus on culture or productivity. You can in fact choose your own style of play, be it the despot or the peace-loving king.
Once again the advancement and success in the game is based upon being able to control units. You start your civilization with a settler and build a city to then generate warriors or workers, depending on what you want to focus. Then you need to discover various technologies to move through the ages and make your civilization the most advanced; this can occur through technology, culture or you can always wipe-out every one of your neighbours (if you are so inclined).
The developers have also replaced of some previous elements, such as riots and corruption for instance. These are taken over by a general health-system within cities, which makes for smoother and less complicated game-play.
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The soundtracks are very well picked and the menu music (Baba Yetu with ‘Sing Along’ sung in Swahili) transcends that epic feeling. As you are playing you may hear well known pieces such as Brahms ‘Hungarian Dances’, Mussorgsky’s ‘Promenade’ or Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral Symphony’: all making for very atmospheric audio as you go through the various ages, and cultured too.
Aside from the music, which is well suited for a turn-based game, there is little else in the audio department, apart from touches such as the ‘Marseillaise’ as you chat to Napoleon or the ‘Marines’ Hymn’ for Roosevelt.
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A great game to own but only for the sternest strategy gamer, and at that, those who do not mind the turn-based innovation of ’Civilization' games. Due to its immenseness and minute micro-managing aspects, the game becomes really complex and it isn’t at all recommended for casual players or those just getting into this genre.