I have been playing Civilization since the original game was released in 1991. I love the series. Many hours of my life have been happily spent positioning cavalry and capturing enemy tiles. Needless to say I have extremely high expectations for any game in the series and Civ 4 does not disappoint.
The best way to describe Civ 4 is to say that it’s the best of all of the previous games and then some. Units and technology that we are so fond of are all present and accounted for, with some additions to mix things up. As with previous versions of Civ things are bigger, better and more polished in the latest release. The new graphics engine provides a clean and attractive interface for governing your people. The game has excellent sound effects as well as music. I feel as if I’m watching The Lion King every time I open the game. Tim Rice and Sir Elton would be proud.
Single player is, to no ones surprise, fantastic. Enemy AI is better than ever and you really have to be on your toes to win. Some things are annoying, like the constant pop-ups suggesting that you build settlers, but these don’t dampen the otherwise pleasant experience of the single player game.
The biggest issue I have, and it’s been reported by others, is the fact that the end game is so busy that your hardware may not be able to keep up with it. This causes turn changes to take longer than normal and communications with other civs to become tedious since they take time to load and disappear. The larger your empire the worse this gets. Again, this is a hardware dependent issue, meaning the more machine you have the less this problem will present itself. Still, I think this could be optimized.
Multiplayer, a welcome addition to the shipping game, is the weakest point of Civ 4. Although possible, it is extremely difficult to play in a game of more than two people without synchronization errors and players dropping. The interface for choosing games also begs for help as you will find browsing nearly impossible without using arrow keys. Many people want to play quick, bloody games with no strategy or thought. These are the same lowlifes who seek the fastest rushing strategy in RTS games such as Age of Empires. Civ 4 is not the place for you. Go back from whence you came.
Civilization 4 is a quality game that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a challenge. It will provide endless hours of entertainment and you might learn something along the way (*gasp*). Buyer beware: you will lose friends, your tan, and gain weight if you buy this game. Don’t worry though, it’s worth it:)