Published on November 15th, 2005 | by Greg0
Civilization IV: New Features, New Gameplay
Often described as “the game I almost flunked out of college for” by more than a few people, this addictive game is finally back on the market and we are all very pleased.
The immediate downside of the game is the installation. Posted all over the forums are ATI video card incompatibilities, problems with sound cards and XML updates. So, like most high-end new video games, expect to work around the glitches and spend more than a little time installing it.
That being said, the game itself is in my opinion, better than the last. There are luckily no fiascoes that I have seen so far, like the corruption level being too high in the last game so that it was impossible to have a city far away from your capital. There is generally greater emphasis on the other aspects of gameplay besides war, and notably culture and religion aspects are more highlighted in this game. For me this is a boon because I love the society-building features of the game, but not the combat.
Unlike the last game where your religion was never overtly expressed, now there are several different religions. You acquire the religion through the technology tree, with Buddhism and Judaism being discovered earlier than Islam and Christianity. To build a temple, the city must first have a religion, and multiple temples can be built of different religions, providing the city has the religions. You can ‘discover’ a religion or adopt someone else’s. And countries that share the same relations have more amicable trading relations and are less likely to go to war. I have to give the creators kudos for thinking that up, as it reasonably imitates real-life diplomatic relations.
One of my favorite aspects of the new game are the Great People. Great People were in the last game, but they are so much better and frequent in this game. For one thing, the subtypes: Great Artist, Great Merchant, Great Engineer, Great Philosopher. They all have different benefits that make them more or less useful to your gameplay. They can join a city to permanently make it more productive or produce more money. Great Artists can ‘culture-bomb’, where they automatically add 2000+ culture to a city and the borders expand greatly in one turn. I love this as a peaceful way to take over a city I have my eye on.
Small and large differences appear, like the tech tree being much more flexible- allowing the possibility of jumping a few techs ahead before you have finished with the basic ones. Cities don’t expand at all when settlers and workers are being built, which changed my early game strategy quite a bit to allow cities to grow prior to making settlers. Also, new resources marble and stone can help produce certain wonders faster and another creature can be found in the water: the crab. The wonders themselves are slightly different. A few more national wonders have been added, which now have prerequisites. They also took out my favorite wonder: Sun Tzu’s the Art of War, which automatically built barracks in every city.
The game as a whole has a more complicated structure and made a greater stab at real country relations. I would say the gameplay is much more sophisticated and I have had to modify my strategies in more than a few ways. Many options, before numerous, have doubled and divided. Before government options were limited. Now you can mix and match: communism with free speech and free religion, state religion with democracy and representation. Now cultures can be ‘creative’ and ‘philosophical’ as well as industrious and mercantile. And one of my favorite aspects: you can play as China’s Mao Zedong or Emperor Qin, or India’s Asoka or Gandhi.