Sunday, October 30, 2005

Beep... beep... beep...

More random thoughts on Civ IV, now that I've played a full game. First, more negatives:
  1. This game is the worst since Civ I at representing the strength of modern armies. Far too often my barely-injured Panzers would attack unfortified pikemen with a single Combat promotion standing in the desert, and the pikemen would win. Not a majority of the time, but way too often. This is frustrating, because they FIXED this problem in Civ 2, and like the Civilopedia mess they're taking a step back now.
  2. I've said this before, but I'll reiterate: it takes a LOT of raw power to run this game at its full potential. My new card was running everything fine (except Wonder movies) until I started my wars, then the combat animations occasionally slowed down. Not a huge problem, just want to throw it out there.
  3. Something that has always been a problem in Civ but is especially annoying now: the enemy loves pillaging. Let me ask you, have you EVER pillaged an enemy's tiles while invading? Personally, I never have. Any time I'm invading it's because I'm planning on taking a city, and I want to have that city operating at its peak; I don't want to spend the next thirty turns having a worker rebuild everything I just destroyed. Yet the AI ALWAYS pillages EVERYTHING when they invade. I'm still willing to entertain the possibility that they're better tacticians than I am, but this smells like another case of the AI being programmed to oppose you rather than advance themselves.
  4. The endgame bogs down a little, though that's mainly my fault - I was grossly unprepared for the difficulty of my military campaign and so I got into an annoying habit of frequently saving and reloading. ("Hmm... can my bombers successfully attack those crossbowmen? Dang. Well, can my panzers defeat the musketeers? Arg. Maybe my mechanized infantry will be able to beat ordinary infantry? Bad word!") I expect next time I'll actually be somewhat prepared and hopefully will stick to my rule of not reloading when something goes horribly, horribly wrong.
  5. There are a few little rule changes I disagree with, like eliminating unlimited movement along railroads (it's now a 1/10 cost instead). For the most part, though, these are just things to adapt to, especially the way you can't carry production over from one things you're building to another.
More things I like:
  1. All the new features really work - they make the gameplay more interesting without overly complicating it. Great People are nice to get and can fit well into existing strategies or do one-shot cool things. Religion can be seen as another way to compete without waging war, or as a way to advance your cultural cohesion.
  2. Culture, a good idea that has been around since Civ III, is really perfected here. Combined with the new diplomatic states like Open Borders it creates a realistic and useful way to exert control without building tons of cities. I LOVE how you can access a resource without creating a colony or building a city right next to it.
  3. Notwithstanding my complaints above about the relative weakness of modern units, the combat system as a whole is more enjoyable. The promotion system makes you get attached to your units as well as offering still more strategic options. (Should I give all my Panzers Barrage so they can blitz through these cities? Or create a mix of promotions so they are more well-rounded?)
  4. Lots of really nice little touches. I like the way music evolves the further you get in the game, and how it gets louder when you're looking at a city and quieter when you move into the country. I like how, when you build an aqueduct, you see the water running along a line from the nearest mountain into your city. It's neat that each civ's units speaks in their own language.
  5. Multiplayer. I have yet to try this, but I think it'll do wonders for the longevity of this title.
I guess that's it for now. I think I'll start up my second game later tonight. I enjoyed being Frederick, so I'll probably stick with him, though I might change the name this time around. I think the next game will be on a larger world, and might or might not be of "Epic" length. We'll see how I'm feeling. I'll probably pass down a final thumbs-up/thumbs-down decision on Wednesday.

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