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Civilization 4 – what’s left to do?

December 13th, 2004 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

Civilization 4 is on its way. Not sure when, though screenshots of an early build can be found in PC Gamer’s January 2005 issue. So sometime in late 2005 is not a bad estimate.

Like many, I found Civ 3 close to greatness, but not close enough. Too much seemed confused or poorly considered. Huge maps were unplayable because of corruption, captured settlers worked more slowly but it was sometimes easy to forget which was which, the idea of unique units did nothing for me and the lack of an early source of fresh water would kill you quick.

Though it did little to fix these problems, the Conquests expansion made Civ 3 one of my favorite games of all time. Not sure how, but the addition of more civilizations and a few new traits and wonders made me forgive all the sins of the first incarnation. Corruption was still and issue and the AI’s diplomatic cheating became more noticeable as I got better. The new maps and units for the “Conquests” part of the game were a blast too. It’s been a year and Conquests is still my TBS of choice.

Early reports say that Civ 4 will take out the “unfun” parts. This was how Soren Johnson put it at the Game Developers Conference last March. For him (and some of us), the unfun means corruption and pollution.

Both of these game mechanics have been in Civ since the birth of the game. They are concepts that longtime players understand and have resigned themselves to. Now they will be removed in what appears to be a major reimagining of the Civ franchise.

Ah yes. The franchise. It seems that every strategy game out there now is a franchise. Heck, every game. No one is more excited to see a Pirates! remake than me. (please Santa. I’ve been good.) Still, a part of me wonders why the talent at Firaxis hasn’t done anything really, really new in a long time. Meier’s Dinsosaur game was abandoned, and probably for good reason. He knows more about game design than I ever will. But Civ 4 is just another step in the “sure thing” “make a hit” mill that the industry is turning into.

I will buy Civ 4. So will millions of others. But you know what? Based on reputation, I’d buy almost any game Firaxis made.


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