There are a few things you can count on; I mean really set your watch by in life. Parents just don't understand, girls are nothing but trouble and Will Smith will
get jiggy. But even outside the world of harmless hip-hop are some truly meaningful truisms. None more pertinent today than, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That is where another reliable mainstay comes into play. Sid Meier's Civilization IV does everything that we have come to expect from a Sid Meier game. Basically, it improves on the last title in ways that you could never have dreamed of. It is now time to test whether you are a benevolent leader or the root of destruction.
Let me break this down for all seven of you that have never played a Civilization game. In Civilization IV, like in the rest of the series, you are given control of one of the great civilizations in our world's history. From the Mongols to the English, the Russians to the Americans, the most notable civilizations and their leaders are included (now, before I get any nasty e-mails, they had to leave some room for expansion civilizations so don't be upset if your favorite isn't available). You rise to power in 4000 BC and grow your country into a world-wide civilization. How you get there is up to you. Do you take up arms and destroy your neighbors or do you slowly subvert them with the desire to be more like you? The choice is yours though none of the available roads are easy.
While the whole idea of a new Civilization game revolves around the concept of, "more," the most unique feature in Civilization is a brand new idea. Civ IV marks the first entry in the series to address religion. The first civilization to research specific technologies found one of seven religions. The technology to religion relationships make logical sense (Polytheism leads to Hinduism) and the game is careful not to emphasize the advantages of one religion over another. This adds another layer of depth to an already vast ocean of features as religion plays into negotiations with other civilizations, spawns the proliferation of missionaries, and differences can lead to war.
Another major shift between Civ IV and Civilizations past is in your form of government. IV moves away from the simple
idea of monarchy, republic, etc. and gives you specific control over several aspects of your government. In addition to the form of government that you will provide your people with, you can set different policies on legal, labor, economy and religious aspects of life in your land. Each new civic option is spawned with a technological advance and comes with a new set of advantages...at a cost. Each civic will cost your government money and it is up to you to find the balance between price and advantage. Sure, you might morally be opposed to slavery, but it's an inexpensive way to get things built, especially early in the game (assuming you are willing to sacrifice some of your people...).
It is absolutely no surprise that Civilization IV includes a bigger and better tech tree and more units than any other Civ game but it is the overhauled graphics engine that really steals the show. Civ IV has taken the game into three-dimensions and actually provides a nice feature to go along with it, a scalable map. Now you can zoom into the game map to see the detail of your town. You can also zoom out to an astronaut's-eye view of the world. It is wicked convenient and an outstanding use of the 3D engine. Another nice feature, though significantly less functional, that accompanies the engine is a great set of unit animations. I'm particularly fond of the war-elephants, myself.
The military units in Civ IV are the subject of another significant change in the franchise. Where Civ III did a great job with experience and the birth of great leaders, IV takes it a step in a different direction, one towards the realm of RPGs, and lets you assign promotions to your units as they excel in battle. These promotions range from a basic increase in strength to improved performance against specific classes of units to the ability to heal other units. Combined with the ability to rename any of your units and you wind up with an army that you want to protect and not waste them on a useless land war.
Let's face it: Civilization IV is packed full of improvements to the series. Some greatly affect the strategy of the game while others created a more emotional tie to your civilization and its people. We could go on for hours and still not touch on everything that is in this game. The great people that are born from your Wonders, the revised combat structure, built-in multiplayer modes and the return of Wonder Movies all come to mind without trying. What it all comes down to is that, long story made short, Civilization IV is everything that fans of the series could have hoped for.