If world domination has always been one of your ambitions, you won't be able to resist Civilization 4
If you were to take a worldwide poll of gamers’ favourite all time title, we’d happily gamble our right leg that Civilization would be somewhere close to the top. Created by the legendary Sid Meier, it’s appeared in many guises and on many formats, but its premise has always remained the same – world domination through international diplomacy and military might.
This fourth edition, released almost 15 years after the first, returns to the initial concept of quick paced turn-based gameplay. We say quick in relative terms, for you’ll still need to donate a fair whack of your time to contribute anything to the game, but you’ll be rewarded with the most involving strategy title of the year.
The graphics are stunning, with a breathtaking array of buildings and structures and a smooth camera that guides you round. Individual cultures are deliberately supersized on-screen for clear identification of not just specific armies, but the size of them too. In addition, there are numerous in-game movies that are beautifully atmospheric.
Gameplay wise, the interface has been vastly improved, although we’re confident that experienced players will find it extremely natural.
There are an amazing selection of races and leaders, including previous powerhouses such as Aztecs and Egyptians, and more contemporary societies such as the Americans. As you might expect, there is plenty of differences between each culture, and your choice will no doubt reflect how you wish to evolve your civilisation.
Religion has also been introduced as a key component of international relations, which is thankfully handled very sensitively in Civilization 4 and is a key component of forming alliances, now arguably the game’s main element.
When forming an axis of evil (or not so evil, depending on your strategy), questions have to be asked, such as should you be sharing information with your new friends, or teaming up with them to research together? This becomes even more intriguing with differing leaders of each civilisation in place.
This latest incarnation puts huge emphasis on online multiplayer gameplay, to combat the many excellent online-based strategy offerings that have cropped up over the last few years. This isn’t the first game in the franchise to feature this, but it’s been drastically improved since the rather flawed version in Civilization 3 and its expansion packs. The range of different game types is awesome, and we’d be shocked if it doesn’t start clogging up bandwidth on a mass scale over the coming months.
A brief review of Civilization 4 can’t begin to delve into its incredible depth. Suffice to say, you’ll still be discovering new layers in this colossal game in years to come.
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