MacDirectory Magazine

Winter-Spring 2009 (#40)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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164 MacDirectory REVIEW | GAMES CIVILIZATION 4 BY FIRAXIS GAMES > A FANTASTICALLY DEEP GAME There are two ways to write about Civilization 4, the latest iteration of the beloved Sid Meier franchise: Writing for the fans of the series who have played every version since the beginning, or writing for those players who have never picked it up, and want to know if they should. Rather than simply typing up a laundry list of new features and improvements over Civ 3, we'll write for the benefit of new Civilization players. Civilization 4 is one of the most complex games you'll ever play, and that's a good thing. It satisfies on multiple levels, not the least of which is its sense of history. Every game unit, advance, philosophy, political stance, etc., is modeled after real- world equivalents. The team has done an amazing job of dissecting the constellation of cause-and-effect to determine which technologies caused the rise of others. This plays out in unexpected ways; you might have thought that the Incas were the first culture to develop technology X, but Civ 4 lays it all out for you. Essentially, the game tasks you with growing a world-spanning race of humans from the seed of a single city. The tools you're given to accomplish this are many and varied. You will begin with a different set of units depending on which culture you've chosen to inhabit (Chinese, American, German, etc.), each with a different function — scouts, who can travel farther than any other unit; warriors, the fighters of your burgeoning culture; workers, who can cultivate the land surrounding your city to your benefit; and settlers, who do the actual founding of the city. Running your city alone would make for a decent simulation-type game; there are so many elements that need to be managed, and it's a fairly non-linear process. It's up to you to decide what sort of focus you're going to pursue: Will you favor building wealth at the expense of researching new technologies? Is it more important to achieve a happy civilization by evolving its arts, or by the conquest of other cultures? Many games have played with the dynamics of different unit balance, making strategic combat a necessity, but with Civilization it gets more sophisticated. Not only do your units have a base stat that determines their strength, but that strength varies depending upon several factors, including what type of terrain the unit is standing upon, whether or not the units have been through a couple of battles, the defensive bonus of the defending enemy, and even the political climate of your culture's governing body. On top of all that, there is the inexorable tide of the eternal arms race to consider. Yours isn't the only civilization out there advancing science, with its concomitant military upgrades. Think you're getting good at it? Try again at a higher difficulty, all the way up to Deity. Mess around with different scenarios, customizing winning requirements to their extremes. Play famous historical events to try to change the course of history. And when you tire of beating on (or being beaten by) the game's AI, there is a whole new dimension awaiting: multiplayer over the Internet, a LAN, or even by exchanging e-mails. Byte for byte, there is no other game that gives greater value for your money than Civilization 4. Hell, you can spend a half- hour just reading up on the Civilopedia, learning about different historical concepts! Did we mention that each newly discovered technology comes with a famous quote from a historical figure, read aloud by none other than Leonard Nimoy himself? If you love games, you must have this one. WORDS BY KEONI CHAVEZ Product Civilization IV Made by Firaxis Games <> Price $39.99 boxed product Pros Infinite replayability Cons "Just one more turn..." Rating HHHHH

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