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Civilization IV Review

Civilization IV Box art
Publisher:2K Games
Official Site:http://www.2kgames.com/civ4/home.htm
Release Date:November 4th (UK)
Reviewer:Liam Spence (D3CYPH3R)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

Civilization IV has been eagerly awaited by fans of the series, especially me it must be said. However sometimes this eagerness and excitement can lead to a feeling of being let down if the game doesn't quite reach your high expectations, thankfully this isn't the case here, CiV IV is a very nice addition to the series, a series that has evolved really rather nicely in my opinion.

Like all previous Civilization games the objective is simple, take your chosen nation and achieve global domination! This can be achieved in many ways, whether through my personal favourite of conquering your opponents, winning the space race and many more.


Civ IV has been graced with a 3D engine and it brings the world to life like no previous version could. You are able to zoom right into your troops or zoom right out and see the map on a global scale, the attention to detail even allows for you to see an active cloud cover level as you zoom out.

All the units have been animated well, whether they be workers mining, armies taking up fortification or just elephants roaming around, all adding to the feel of the world around you being alive. As with other Civ games you come up against other nation’s rulers and these characters have been brought to life with deeply expressive animation, if you annoy them you will defiantly know about it!

Although the graphics aren’t ground breaking, for a game of this type they do the job fantastically and lovers of previous Civ titles will definitely appreciate the hard work that has gone into the creation of the new Civilization world.

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Civ IV has been blessed with a solid set of backing tracks, the opening title track sounds like it has come from a west end show. The in game sounds don’t let the side down either, constant hustle and bustle in cities and the sound of your workers doing their thing all add to building an atmosphere around the game, even to the point where the backing music changes as your civilization passes though the ages.

Leonard Nimoy has been recruited for voice overs, he narrates the intro sequence as well as reading out quotes about the new technologies as you discover them, his voice strangely does add an heir of charm to each tech.

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I’ll start with newcomers, just like the previous games in the series it’s not a game you can really pick up and play without using the tutorial at the very least. I remember first playing Civ II without reading the manual and spending at least half an hour running about with my settler not knowing what to do! To be honest some users will find the tutorial isn’t really enough to get to grips with the game, but there are countless guides available online to help users on their way as well as a chunky manual. This learning curve isn't exactly shallow however.

Regulars to the Civ series will feel right at home, the basic interface is similar to previous versions, and despite the new graphics engine the game still feels very familiar. You will no doubt be able to pick up and play this game in much the same way as it's predecessors, there are also enough tool tips to help navigate the new features and after a game or three you will know which of these new features will become a large part of your cunning plans to take over the world.

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Of the several new features that Civ IV boasts, religion is one of the more prominent. You are now able to research one of seven religions and these can be used to control the populace through the building of churches or temples. You can even try to impose your beliefs on other nations through the work of missionaries, in my first game I took an enemy city purely on religious grounds.

Unit upgrades are no longer just a power boost, there are several options you are able to choose from as you units gains experience from fighting. You can have the improve their city defensive skills, their ability to fire first, increased performance vs. specific types of units.

Another new feature "Great People" can play a massive role in the progression of your empire, these special units (William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton to name just two) can aid you in many ways, such as discovering a new technology or speeding up the construction of a building. Alternatively they can be added as a permanent "specialist" to a city increasing the production levels or science level based on the great person, what ever task you choose for them to do results in the great person being used up.

Civics are more complex now, providing you have researched the correct technologies you can control your populace through several different systems at once, each with their own benefits and pitfalls such as slavery or organised religion. I could go on forever explaining the new features but the fact the manual is over 200 pages goes to show the complexities of Civilization IV. All in all things do tick along nicely and it won’t be too long before you are raising the difficulty to see how good you really are!

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The multipayer side of things is a bit of a different story. My first experience of a turn based game over the internet and it could well be the last. I don’t think it’s a fault with the game, just the people you come up against; sitting around waiting for others to make their turn can grow to be very tedious, especially when all that is delaying the game is someone forgetting to end their turn! As indicated, my 1st encounter was enough to put anyone off, I spent ten hours in one game, that’s right 10 hours! And did we finish the game, no! People kept dropping and forgetting to end their turn and after ten hours I was that completely fed up and left. Dedication in the name of a fair and complete review does have it's limits you know.

On the flip side of this, I imagine that if you could get a few friends together to play, it would be quite a laugh. Especially if you use the in game voice comms, just something to break up the waiting! Another method of multiplayer gaming I would like to try is via email, sounds a bit like civ chess to me which might not be a bad thing, although the thought of loading up Civ 4 just to take a turn in it’s self could annoy most people.


Regulars of the series will love the new features in Civilization IV yet feel at home with the interface and general feel of the game. Newcomers may find it tricky to start and might find the tutorial still leaves them in limbo, however the rewards for persevering and dominating your opponents or having them agree to your terms is second to none! Civ fans of old and indeed any RTS fans in general simply must buy this game. In short, this is the best Civ game yet.

Good stuff

  • Beautiful new living 3D world
  • Lots of new features for the experienced Civ fan to learn
  • Increased complexity of civics allows greater feel of control
  • New music scores bring the game to life

Not so good stuff

  • Newcomers might find learning curve steep, even with a tutorial
  • Multiplayer is VERY time consuming

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