Civilization 4 Review
When it comes to video games on the PC, I think the ultimate game would be one that is a little different every time you play it. The game would have some basic rules and strategy, but every game would be different, like playing chess. For me, that game is Civilization IV. If you haven’t played any of these yet, you’re missing out on one of the longest running and most popular series of computer games ever made.
The premise of Civilization IV, as well as the previous Civilization titles, is that you start from scratch and create an entire civilization. You begin the game with a single unit called settlers, and they can be used to establish a city. Once this city is established, you can train workers to go around build roads, farms, and more. Eventually, you’ll also need to build up a military to defend your city. Once that city grows big enough, you can create more settlers to build more cities. In the meantime, you can research simple things like ‘the wheel’ or ‘iron working’ and eventually work your way up to nuclear weapons and space exploration.
I could write a book about all the things you can do in this game. It isn’t a very fast-paced title and certain isn’t action-packed like a session of Call of Duty 4, but the strategy is way more in-depth than even the toughest wargame like Company of Heroes. In many ways, Civilization IV is like playing a game of chess. You have to develop a plan, set goals, and take your time to execute those plans, while at the same time making sure your opponents don’t overtake you.
You can play this game like a wargame, or you can spend most of your time developing your cities and trying to become the smartest, most technologically advanced civilization on the planet. If you immediately go to war, it’ll be at the expense of tech development. If you focus too much on tech without building up your military research, you’ll be overrun when one of the other nations decides to attack you. The key to it all is finding the right balance.
This game is presented using an overhead map of the world, and you can zoom in and out for detail. To view your cities, just double click on them. The whole game can be controlled by the mouse, and it is all turn-based, so you have plenty of time to calculate your moves. As the game goes on and your world gets bigger, each turn will take longer and longer. If you make it all the way into modern times, one turn could take a half hour or more, depending on how big the world is and how many other active civilizations are still competing for dominance.
None of the Civilization games were ever really about graphics, but this latest edition does still look pretty good. It has a lot of subtle animations and a more realistic looking map, so you need a decent PC to make it run properly. When the game was first released, I heard a lot of technical horror stories about the game, but most of that seems to have been smoothed out with patches and updates.
There is so much you can do in Civilization IV that it would be impossible to even briefly touch on all the possibilities. That is what makes this game so great in that you can play it over and over again, and never play the same kind of game twice. For me, being able to replay a game is a big deciding factor in how long I keep it installed on my hard drive, and this is one that will keep you occupied for a long time. Be careful, though, this game can been quite addictive once you get into it.