As mentioned elsewhere [see Game World], the world in which Civilization IV is set is fully 3D and very much alive and animated. There are also Wonder movies, and Leonard Nimoy (Spock from Star Trek) has been hired as voice actor to record the quotes that accompany new technologies. For a strategic overview, players can zoom out all the way to space and see the world as a globe. In this Globe View, numerous filters are available to facilitate strategizing: Culture, Resources, Units, etc. The User Interface has gotten an overhaul, it is now much more modern and should be very familiar to RTS players. Left-click selects a unit, right-click moves it. The path the unit will follow is indicated as well as the time it takes him to get to his destination.
The key phrase for the game is "What You See Is What You Get", or WYSIWYG: the entire game is aimed to be playable on the main map. You can see what Buildings and Wonders a City has, which tiles it's working, what it's producing, when it will grow and what Religions and defenses it has -- all from the main map. When production in a City is complete, a transparant overlay will pop up and let you choose a new item to produce without blocking the main map [see above]. The Advance under research and its progress is also visible at all times, as well as the state of the treasury and the science and Culture sliders [see second image, below]. A list of known diplomatic contacts is also visible on screen, along with information about their State Religion and what deals you have with them [see third image]. Contacting them or declaring war is only one click away. Tool tips and pop-ups will inform the user of what's going on (e.g. the outcome of a battle) and what to do next. When the active unit is offscreen, a marker tells the player where it is [see last image].
The map can be zoomed out to a globe view, which is very useful for looking at cultural spread, religion spread, military threats, resource locations, and city prosperity. The map has several layers which can be toggled: Resources, Culture, Trade, Units, Religions, Strategy. The strategy layer, for instance, allows lines to be drawn on the map to note strategies and tactics. Automation of workers returns - you can assign your workers to set up trade routes, improve specific cities or let them cut loose and improve everything in sight.
Only power users will ever need to use the various advisor screens and menus that the game offers. Most players can stay on the main map most of the time. Many of the same screens that existed in Civ3 return in Civilization IV, such as the foreign, domestic and military advisors and the in-game tech tree, and there will of course be new screens for things like Civics and Religions. You can adjust the amount of information that is displayed on the HUD, including things such as city names and sizes; or go for a minimalist approach and take it down to just units, cities and roads with no names. If that isn't enough for you, the entire User Interface is being coded in Python so that fans can easily improve or extend it.
The multimedia presentation of the game benefits from several touches. For instance, when you click on a unit, it will respond in the language of your selected civilization. The game's presentation relies very heavily on music, so much so that Firaxis president Jeff Briggs is personally taking charge of the game's score. Since music was Jeff's first career (he did, among other things, the music for the original Pirates!) he's well equipped to handle the composition and music selection tasks required here. As a result of this the game has more music than any previous Civ game, possibly more than any other game ever released! Not only does the game include many of Jeff's original compositions, it also includes licensed performances of pieces by classic composers (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc) as well as contemporary greats like John Adams and soon-to-be greats like Christopher Tin.
Jeff also composed the music for the 28 new wonder movies included in the game and all of the diplomacy music. Where possible he's tried to use folk tunes that represent the character and attitude of each civilization and each ruler. The music for Franklin D. Roosevelt for instance is the Marine Hymn. Jeff's even gone so far as to arrange each piece to suit the various time periods of the game. If you meet with Roosevelt in the early part of the game, you'll hear ancient instruments playing the theme. By the end of the game, the tune will have swelled and taken on a more Sousa-like quality.