About a month ago I found myself coming into some extra money so I decided to treat myself to something and on a whim I bought the Civilization IV pack off of steam and fired it on up. Previously I had played Civilization II during high school but was too young and inexperienced in strategy and resource management to be very good at it, and I had tried to install Civ IV on my old PC when it first came out only to watch as it chugged like my mother at bar (basically impossibly slow) and become more or less unplayable after about 30 seconds. Now with a faster PC I felt I might get to enjoy the experience and felt that Civ IV would be able to give me the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do…..lead an Empire to glorious victory and total dominance of the globe over an epic period of time while micromanaging EVERYTHING along the way. It’s all here and it’s proven to be pretty much as close to the perfect game for me in just over a month, far surpassing my previous all time favourite of Fire Emblem: Seisen No Keifu which stood in it’s place in my heart for close to a decade (I still love you Fire Emblem don’t worry).
With ghostlightning’s blessing I’ve decided to start a short series on Civilization IV and why I love the game so much, and tonight with some spare time (which will also be spent playing the game of course) I figured I’d get things started. Truthfully I coul talk all day about the intracies of Civilization IV and in 1000’s of words still not totally sum up what it’s like to actually play and experience the game’s depth and scope, but I have other things to do tonight as well so I just want to briefly talk a bit about the things that make the game awesome to me and hopefully in the process convince a few people to give it a try.
Part 1 – On Being A Leader:
The basic idea behind Civilization IV (or at least the most basic of the basic ideas) is to put you the player in charge of a Civilization and let them dictate the course of it’s history to either glorious prosperity, a dismal demise, or perhaps a middle power like my own country of Canada. Nobody ever said being a leader was easy though and if you were to doubt it then I would suggest looking up the story of Damocles (no not that fortress from Code Geass, the actual morality tale). Anyway nobody ever said being the leader of an entire civilization with it’s hopes and dreams invested in you was going to be easy and from the moment the game gets started and puts you into control of a single settler it almost immediately starts to try to kick your ass and to put an end to your feeble attempts to “build a Civilization to stand the test of time”. Whoa holy shit watch out for that Barbarian over….oh man you just lost your only unit….so much for that civilization of yours that never was eh? False starts are forgiven by Civ IV though and your free to try again, but do be more careful next time.
Avoiding hazards is one thing, but where to start that first city of yours and get that civilization under way? Do you want to pick that open area with lots of farmland to focus on storing food for population growth? What about that mine in the mountains over there that can be used to expedite building….but it’s so far away from food isn’t it, and it’s not exactly a mine full of gems to get the economy going…..ugh…I guess you’ll just have to worry about that later…..by which point another civilization may have claimed it and you’ll have to go to war with them so that you can expand your borders and claim it for yourself. Is this a good or bad thing….I’m afraid your on your own on that one fearless leader? :/
So now you’ve got your first city up and running, but there’s only one guy in it. You might think you want to set your city to produce another settler to make another city….or perhaps you want a worker to improve those tiles around it…..what about military protection from the marauding barbarians who want to put an end to that Civilization of yours….better make up your mind. Done deciding are you….well to bad there’s still only one guy at work and it’s going to be damn slow in making that new unit for you. Maybe you should set him to gather food so that your population can grow and you’ll have two workers to speed things up a little….but then who is going to do the work and build new units in the mean time? Boy it’s tough getting a civilization off the ground, and this only a snapshot of the things you’ll have to consider in the first 5-10 turns of a game alone in order to hopefully get a head start on competing civilizations.
Civilization IV challenges you to second guess your own decisions and to consider multiple factors before committing to a course of action and like real history once you’ve chosen your path there’s no turning back so you better hope it was the right one. Nobody ever said being a leader was easy, and I believe somebody in a comic book I once read said that “with great power comes great responsibility”. Civilization IV comes closer to simulating this contradiction of the leadership role than any game I’ve ever played and it’s just one of the many reasons I love the game.
In the coming days and weeks I will be writing some more updates on the reasons why I love Civilization IV. I hope people are looking forward to it as much as I am and please if anybody has any subjects concerning Civilization IV that they want me to discuss don’t hesitate to drop a comment and I’ll be happy to see what I can do.
Next Time On Here’s To Us: The Great Ones (Paying Tribute To The People That Helped Make Our Civilization What It Is)
An excellent source of information on all things Civilization (Civ Fanatics 2000-2010)