A Truly Dominating Civilization IV
The best thing about Sid Meier's Civilization IV is also the worst: It will suck any armchair strategists in. Perhaps for days.
The goal of creating a nation that withstands the ebbs and flows of history is deceptively simple. The addictiveness of this latest installment of the Civilization series comes from the varied paths to dominance or failure you can follow.
Base your nation on a great empire of history (from America to Persia), and you can pursue a strategy of military domination, cultural saturation, scientific achievement or some complex hybrid. Then direct your people to build cities and improve land while you negotiate treaties and build military units to subjugate your neighbors.
Over time you develop technologies from construction to rocketry, which offer new units or buildings. Implementing governments ranging from despotism to democracy and adhering to such religions as Christianity or Taoism, you manage your population's progress, happiness and productivity as it grows.
Wise rulers must balance technology initiatives with wealth generation and civic buildings to expand the reach of their culture. Fortunately the intuitive interface, turn-based nature (where players make decisions after an opponent's actions) of Civilization combine with variable game speeds to streamline juggling myriad decisions.
"Great People" are a new twist in Civilization IV. As your cities grow they can create unique leaders in fields ranging from art to science. Much like Wonders of the World, they give bonuses to your society, which speeds progress. These special units can also be expended to add bigger bonuses, aiding your development by leaps and bounds.
3-D graphics featuring detailed units and structures combine with a pan-cultural soundtrack to create an immersive world. The turn-based play lends itself to both real-time and e-mail play. Dominating a friend can take anywhere from a frantic few hours to a leisurely week.
-- Michael Tedeschi
Sid Meier's Civilization IV E10+, PC ($49.99) 2K Games/Firaxis