In a nod to the graphical ability of modern day PCs the graphics have been upgraded all the way from rubbish to okay-ish. Actually, the 3D effect as you zoom out to a view of the whole globe is quite nice but otherwise this is not going to be giving Doom 3 any sleepless nights.
The far more important changes are to the gameplay which has had all the overcomplicated elements from Civ III ripped out and, most interestingly, many of the features from the original that had been considered sacrosanct. City riots and rebellions are now extremely rare and other tedious elements such as pollution have been removed. This all adds up to a tighter, faster paced game that doesnt get bogged down once you get a lot of cities up and running.
A new team-based online modes attempts to add a similar injection of speed to the multiplayer although whether that will prove as successful remains to be seen. More promising is a greater emphasis on religion in the game, as well as great people from history that can help morale, combat or research and sometimes all three. With strategy games becoming ever rarer Civ IV looks like it could finally make them, if not fashionable, at least popular again. -- Harrison Dent
This preview is based on an incomplete version of the game; features or problems mentioned above may not appear in the finished game.
Anyhow, on to the actual review...I am a long time Civ player who can still recall sleepless nights at college with the first in the series so I will focus on the major changes from earlier versions and how they impact the experience.
- the removal of micro-management hassles (pollution, civil disorder, much better automated workers) is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it is great to not have to bother but on the other it can feel as if the game "plays itself" and also means it can be easy to not keep track of cities so closely which can lead them to becoming very inefficient. You need to discipline yourself to still check in on each city frequently.
- the streamlined interface is a great improvement, with many things available on the screen at all times (of note are the sliders controlling distribution of resources between research, culture and cash) instead of tucked away in a seperate screen.
- the 3D interface is slick and smooth, it is easy to use the zoom feature to recreate a top down view (a la Civ 2) or an isometric view (a la Civ 3) or to zoom out to see the whole globe. A big improvement that is not obtrusive.... Read more ›
After the patch, all stability issues are gone. The game runs smoothly and has never crashed on me. Similarly (whether by patch or my own lack of discovery), I've realized that you can turn on quick movement and quick combat resolution.
What a game this is!
In many ways I considered CivIII a sideways rather than forward step. A different take rather than an evolution, so to speak. I'm happy to say CivIV feels just perfect, and much more like a spiritual successor to CivII than to CivIII.
All the annoyances of culture are gone, while the good aspects have been kept. The resource system is vastly expanded as is your worker options. Combat makes more sense and the unit upgrade tree is a fantastic addition that makes you cherish your units so much more (too much, in fact, as I find myself naming units after great battles). Gone are the days of civil disorder and building upkeep, and once you’ve settled yourself from the original shock, you realize it makes much more sense in its new implementation. Health, a new addition to the city screen is a much more collected way of handling the pollution modern cultures seem plagued by.
It is, in other words, a much more coherent package, created for multiplayer from the get go, and wrapped in snazzy new graphics. While not perfect (nothing is), the minor issues left are based more on subjective taste rather than objective, large-scale issues.
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