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  • Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword Review by Solver

    Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword Review by Solver

    The second expansion to Civilization IV, Beyond the Sword, has been released. In this article, Solver, a long-time Apolyton staff member, reviews the game.
    You can buy Beyond the Sword from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

    Beyond Civ4

    Civ4: Beyond the Sword is finally about to be released worldwide, to the excitement of the Civ community. I have had the pleasure of contributing to this expansion and will now give my thoughts on the finished project.

    Before saying anything else, it’s important to say that Beyond the Sword is easily the most ambitious expansion the Civ series has ever seen. It does not limit itself to the addition of new civilizations and some big feature. There are numerous new features with a significant gameplay impact, and then there’s a really high amount of minor tweaks and additions. BtS is very much unlike the Warlords expansion. Playing Warlords felt just like Civ4 with a bunch of new civilizations and some smaller stuff thrown in. Playing BtS is really different from playing Civ4 or Warlords, and player strategies will also reflect that.

    Still, no matter how many features there are, new civilizations are the most visible addition to many players. This time, we’re given ten whole new civilizations to enjoy playing with, and they’re really a mixed bag. Personally, I’m very glad to see the Mayans and Ethiopians make it, as well as the first ever Southeast Asian representatives, the Khmer. The lineup is not perfect, and on the more disappointing side there is the generic Native American civilization and the Holy Roman Empire, for which it’s fairly doubtful whether they were a civilization. Don’t forget that you can easily rename the latter into Franks, for example.

    BtS does not include any new civilization traits, and is probably the better for it. Including even one new trait would create a large number of unused trait combinations – now, on the contrary, almost all trait combinations are filled. With Boudica having Aggressive/Charismatic, bright red hair and a mean look, who would want to cross her?

    My own favorite new civ is probably the Khmer Empire. They strike me as the best civ for expansion and growth. Suryavarman is Expansive for cheaper Workers and Granaries, and also Creative. It means that you can probably get your second city up quicker (assuming you build a Worker before your Settler, so the Worker completes quicker) and you can immediately build a cheap Granary in the new city, without needing to spend time on a Monument for cultural expansion. The Baray, replacing Aqueduct, adds +1 food to the city. It may not seem like much, but while your cities are still small, that will be a useful boost to their growth.

    ...
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  • Civilization IV: Warlords Review by Solver

    Civilization IV: Warlords Review by Solver

    Civilization IV: Warlords Review by Solver

    Warlords, the first expansion pack for the highly-successful Civilization IV has just been released. I am going to take a look at how the gameplay has changed with the expansion's release, and at how the new major features blend in.


    Civer, Meet Warlords!

    Most of you probably already know what's new in Warlords at a glance. Other than six new scenarios, the expansion pack offers six new civs and a total of ten new leaders. These would be the Ottomans (led by Mehmed II), the Koreans (Wang Kon), the Celts (Brennus), the Vikings (Ragnar), the Carthaginians (Hannibal) and the Zulus (Shaka). Additionally, some of the old civs received new leaders – Ramesses II, Stalin, Winston Churchill and Augustus Caesar.

    More interesting than the leaders themselves are the new traits. There's whole three of them, not two, as had been originally said. They are:

    ...
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  • Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 3/3)

    Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 3/3)

    CivIV According to Yin

    Finally we come to the most subjective part of the review wherein I share with you bits of some games that I found interesting. The first is a large Pangaea map, and I'm playing a Kublai Khan, who is aggressive and creative. I chose him because for this game, I was trying to focus on FEWER cities to see if I could still win, and his creative rating helps push out my borders (though really there are much better options for the “fewer cities strategy” than Kublai Khan, but I like the guy). I also turned off space race and timed victories.

    GAME 1: "No Real Focus"


    As you can see, I started off with the most vital resource in life: wine (which I also include to mean beer or any other intoxicating drink). No matter what, my people's outlook on my rule will be helped by having them too sloshed to care.

    ...
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  • Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 2/3)

    Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 2/3)

    CivIV According to Soren

    Another rarely used method of reviewing a game is to judge it against the developer's stated goals. Perhaps this is hard in many cases because developer's goals aren't always there in anything more than marketing hype. Soren, however, wrote one of the best Afterwords I have read in a gaming manual, and I think his view of CivIV deserves some discussion. First, he acknowledges that “there are a thousand ways to make a great game about all of civilization – we only get to make one of them.” What does he think he made with CivIV, and what do I, Mr. Random Reviewer, think of the results?

    NOTE: The “dialogue” here is made up. I'm sure the real Soren would say things far more brilliantly.


    1. SOREN: Sticking with turn-based allows for “a series of overlapping mini-goals".

    ...
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  • Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 1/3)

    Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 1/3)

    Author Profile
    Yin26

    A long-time "on" and "off" poster on Apolyton Civilization Site's forums and strategy gamer, he has been notably vocal and critical in the past of Alpha Centauri, Civilization: Call to Power and more recently Civilization III.

    The 34-year-old lives in New Haven, Connecticut with his wife and two young daughters. He is working on funding for university students to study East Asian languages in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

    Civilization 4 Review by 'yin26'

    CivIV tries to do more with less (fewer units, fewer cities, etc.) -– and often succeeds, at least through an engaging early game. New twists, such as Great People and battlefield promotions, also allow for some wonderfully fresh strategic possibilities, even if these take some time to learn and appreciate. This approach solves many old Civ problems while introducing some novel gameplay, and any serious Civer should try CivIV just to see these elements in action.

    But an overly rapid progression up the tech tree and what seems to be a shallow menu of available units (again, in part, because the tech progression is too fast?) quickly pushes aside the wonderful early game and the subtle nuance, giving way to a late game bogged down in the repetitive tedium that many Civ fans have long hoped would be put to bed. Not helping the situation is an interface that hinders more than inspires and a host of performance issues that threaten to push some players to relegate CivIV to the shelf until help arrives. In short, CivIV is best approached as a promising work in progress.

    ...
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  • Civilization 4 Review by Chris "Velociryx" Hartpence (Part 2/2)

    Civilization 4 Review by Chris "Velociryx" Hartpence (Part 2/2)

    PART 2: After Several Days of Non-Stop Playing... (Page 1/3) The only way to write a review worth reading is to play the hell out of the game in question, so that's what I've been doing for the last several days. I've played quick, standard, epic, and accelerated start games, some through to completion and a whole bunch of "mini-games" to test certain theories out, attempt to stress or break the game, and experiment in general. Let me break it down for you. CivIV is divided into six basic areas that require player input and management at the city level. These areas are: Population Growth (food production) Productivity (hammer production, formerly shields) Money (to be used to either line your pockets or pay for research) Nothing new there....that's standard fare 4X [(eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation, and eXtermination)] stuff. Now add the following: Health (unhealthy cities are less productive cities) Happiness (unhappy cities are less productive cities) G-Man Rate (The rate at which your city generates "Great People" of different types) NOTE: None of these three are early game concerns....they are introduced gradually, as cities grow, and as technological research continues to develop. With the inclusion of these three areas, now we're starting to get somewhere! Now we're starting to get some interesting choices and tradeoffs! Ahhh, but there's more. In addition to these six basic areas, which are entirely "city centric," there are six additional areas that overlay the basic city-oriented structure of Civ IV, and tie it all together into a cohesive (Imperial) whole, and these are: Civ Traits/Starting Techs (each civ in the game comes with two traits and two starting techs, giving each a different set of opening abilities out the gate, and leading to a staggering variety of possible playing styles and strategies). Diplomacy/Espionage (flip sides of the same basic coin, and all about your relations/dealings with rival civs) Religion Overlay (seven different religions in all, with the option to found one or more of them, and a variety of compelling in-game benefits for doing so. Religion stands on its own, and also modifies Diplomacy (above) and Culture (below). Cultural Overlay (a measure of the overall strength, vitality, and enduring value that your civilization is creating, most prominently expressed in terms of how far your borders extend from your cities, and quite powerful in this regard, as it can allow cultural absorption of nearb...
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  • Civilization 4 Review by Chris "Velociryx" Hartpence (Part 1/2)

    Civilization 4 Review by Chris "Velociryx" Hartpence (Part 1/2)

    Author Profile
    Chris Hartpence
    a.k.a. Velociryx

    Velociryx is an economist, helpdesk analyst, and author. It is in the latter capacity that he may be best known to Alpha Centauri fans as author of what has been widely described as a definitive guide to for the game's expansion pack, Alien Crossfire.

    His other writing credits include Five Days in May, a horror fiction novel favourably reviewed by The New York Times.

    Review by Chris "Velociryx" Hartpence

    The fourth direct incarnation of the Civilization series in hand, this Civer wants to believe in a brighter future for the franchise after what he calls the disaster that was Civilization III.

    This is his detailed report. (ACS) PART 1: First Impressions (Page 1/2) First impressions are important in most things, and computer games are no exception. Make a solid first impression on me, and I'm vastly more inclined to overlook weak spots or contradictions in your design. Give me choices, and make them mean something (or at least have the good graces to make me feel like they do), and it'll do a lot to soothe the savage beast that tends to rear his evil head when there's just something wonky or rediculous woven into the fabric of the game. Give me attention to detail and don't skimp on the small stuff, and I'll be far less likely to bite your head off when the game engine does something absurdly unexpected. I, with my less-than-optimal desktop rig, dodged a great many of the initial setup bullets I've read in the "horror stories" section of the Apolyton CivIV forums (much to my relief!). The installation ran smoothly, and the game started without a hitch, upon the completion of the customary system restart, so we were off and running in that regard. The Intro Movie was i...

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  • MarkG Supplemental CIVILIZATION IV PREVIEW

    MarkG Supplemental CIVILIZATION IV PREVIEW

    The following are a series of questions and answers razed in the forums since the initial posting the preview. I hope it helps answering some very specific (but critical) issues.

    Click on the screenshot to enlarge

    Issues answered on the forums

    yes, if you have several cities close to the cities of an AI, you may get "our close borderds spark tention" negative points towards the AI's stance at you


    open: units can pass through your borders
    normal/closed : units cant pass through your borders without declaring war


    ...
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  • Apolyton Civ4 PREVIEW (By Solver) - Part 2 online

    Apolyton Civ4 PREVIEW (By Solver) - Part 2 online

    What Do You Want to Build Today?


    Screen showing units and buildings stats

    I will now speak about domestic issues in CivIV. How you build things, manage your cities and your empire has definitely changed, and these changes are quite interesting.

    The first change is that you can no longer switch production from one item to another and keep the amount of shields the previous project has gathered. If you are halfway through building a Library and switch to a Chariot, you'll start building the Chariot from scratch and can later go back to finish the Library from where you left off… although the production progress will decay if you leave it for too long. This change might not sound like something terribly major, but it is.

    ...
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  • Apolyton Civ4 PREVIEW (By Solver) - Part 1 online

    Apolyton Civ4 PREVIEW (By Solver) - Part 1 online


    Dual monitor support in Civ4!

    Introduction

    We are all expecting the release of Civilization IV, anticipating the countless hours to spend on the game, the feeling of "one more turn" and the great power of ruling a mighty empire. I am thus happy to present to you my thoughts on the latest installment of this great series. I will mainly comment about the gameplay itself – for comments on the new interface and the overall game feel, check Markos' write-up.

    1/3 Old, 1/3 Improved, and 1/3 New

    I am very lucky to have been playing CivIV for some time now. We've heard the idea that CivIV would be 1/3 old, 1/3 improved and 1/3 new. The simple truth is that the outcome is better. While the core concepts in CivIV remain the same as always, there is hardly an element of gameplay that hasn’t changed since CivIII: how you build Settlers, improving tiles, the combat system, culture, diplomacy, resources, even the traditional spaceship victory. All of these concepts have changed, some more, some less.

    The main concepts that are really new are: the combat system along with promotions, Great People (which are in no way the same as CivIII), religion, civics, flexible tech tree, modding capabilities (naturally), and, strange as it may sound, diplomacy. By that I mean that diplomacy is so different and exciting this time around that I really want to call it a new feature – but more on that later. The mentioned things are, however, not all that is newsworthy.

    ...
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  • Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword Review by Solver
    Solver

    The second expansion to Civilization IV, Beyond the Sword, has been released. In this article, Solver, a long-time Apolyton staff member, reviews the game.
    You can buy Beyond the Sword from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

    Beyond Civ4

    Civ4: Beyond the Sword is finally about to be released worldwide, to the excitement of the Civ community. I have had the pleasure of contributing to this expansion and will now give my thoughts on the finished project.

    Before saying anything else, it’s important to say that Beyond the Sword is easily the most ambitious expansion the Civ series has ever seen. It does not limit itself to the addition of new civilizations and some big feature. There are numerous new features with a significant gameplay impact, and then there’s a really high amount of minor tweaks and additions. BtS is very much unlike the Warlords expansion. Playing Warlords felt just like Civ4 with a bunch of new civilizations and some smaller stuff thrown in. Playing BtS is really different from playing Civ4 or Warlords, and player strategies will also reflect that.

    Still, no matter how many features there are, new civilizations are the most visible addition to many players. This time, we’re given ten whole new civilizations to enjoy playing with, and they’re really a mixed bag. Personally, I’m very glad to see the Mayans and Ethiopians make it, as well as the first ever Southeast Asian representatives, the Khmer. The lineup is not perfect, and on the more disappointing side there is the generic Native American civilization and the Holy Roman Empire, for which it’s fairly doubtful whether they were a civilization. Don’t forget that you can easily rename the latter into Franks, for example.

    BtS does not include any new civilization traits, and is probably the better for it. Including even one new trait would create a large number of unused trait combinations – now, on the contrary, almost all trait combinations are filled. With Boudica having Aggressive/Charismatic, bright red hair and a mean look, who would want to cross her?

    My own favorite new civ is probably the Khmer Empire. They strike me as the best civ for expansion and growth. Suryavarman is Expansive for cheaper Workers and Granaries, and also Creative. It means that you can probably get your second city up quicker (assuming you build a Worker before your Settler, so the Worker completes quicker) and you can immediately build a cheap Granary in the new city, without needing to spend time on a Monument for cultural expansion. The Baray, replacing Aqueduct, adds +1 food to the city. It may not seem like much, but while your cities are still small, that will be a useful boost to their growth.

    ...
    August 4, 2012, 20:38
  • Civilization IV: Warlords Review by Solver
    Solver

    Civilization IV: Warlords Review by Solver

    Warlords, the first expansion pack for the highly-successful Civilization IV has just been released. I am going to take a look at how the gameplay has changed with the expansion's release, and at how the new major features blend in.


    Civer, Meet Warlords!

    Most of you probably already know what's new in Warlords at a glance. Other than six new scenarios, the expansion pack offers six new civs and a total of ten new leaders. These would be the Ottomans (led by Mehmed II), the Koreans (Wang Kon), the Celts (Brennus), the Vikings (Ragnar), the Carthaginians (Hannibal) and the Zulus (Shaka). Additionally, some of the old civs received new leaders – Ramesses II, Stalin, Winston Churchill and Augustus Caesar.

    More interesting than the leaders themselves are the new traits. There's whole three of them, not two, as had been originally said. They are:

    ...
    August 3, 2012, 18:30
  • Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 3/3)
    yin26

    CivIV According to Yin

    Finally we come to the most subjective part of the review wherein I share with you bits of some games that I found interesting. The first is a large Pangaea map, and I'm playing a Kublai Khan, who is aggressive and creative. I chose him because for this game, I was trying to focus on FEWER cities to see if I could still win, and his creative rating helps push out my borders (though really there are much better options for the “fewer cities strategy” than Kublai Khan, but I like the guy). I also turned off space race and timed victories.

    GAME 1: "No Real Focus"


    As you can see, I started off with the most vital resource in life: wine (which I also include to mean beer or any other intoxicating drink). No matter what, my people's outlook on my rule will be helped by having them too sloshed to care.

    ...
    August 1, 2012, 18:36
  • Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 2/3)
    yin26

    CivIV According to Soren

    Another rarely used method of reviewing a game is to judge it against the developer's stated goals. Perhaps this is hard in many cases because developer's goals aren't always there in anything more than marketing hype. Soren, however, wrote one of the best Afterwords I have read in a gaming manual, and I think his view of CivIV deserves some discussion. First, he acknowledges that “there are a thousand ways to make a great game about all of civilization – we only get to make one of them.” What does he think he made with CivIV, and what do I, Mr. Random Reviewer, think of the results?

    NOTE: The “dialogue” here is made up. I'm sure the real Soren would say things far more brilliantly.


    1. SOREN: Sticking with turn-based allows for “a series of overlapping mini-goals".

    ...
    August 1, 2012, 18:29
  • Civilization 4 Review by "Yin26" (Part 1/3)
    yin26
    Author Profile
    Yin26

    A long-time "on" and "off" poster on Apolyton Civilization Site's forums and strategy gamer, he has been notably vocal and critical in the past of Alpha Centauri, Civilization: Call to Power and more recently Civilization III.

    The 34-year-old lives in New Haven, Connecticut with his wife and two young daughters. He is working on funding for university students to study East Asian languages in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

    Civilization 4 Review by 'yin26'

    CivIV tries to do more with less (fewer units, fewer cities, etc.) -– and often succeeds, at least through an engaging early game. New twists, such as Great People and battlefield promotions, also allow for some wonderfully fresh strategic possibilities, even if these take some time to learn and appreciate. This approach solves many old Civ problems while introducing some novel gameplay, and any serious Civer should try CivIV just to see these elements in action.

    But an overly rapid progression up the tech tree and what seems to be a shallow menu of available units (again, in part, because the tech progression is too fast?) quickly pushes aside the wonderful early game and the subtle nuance, giving way to a late game bogged down in the repetitive tedium that many Civ fans have long hoped would be put to bed. Not helping the situation is an interface that hinders more than inspires and a host of performance issues that threaten to push some players to relegate CivIV to the shelf until help arrives. In short, CivIV is best approached as a promising work in progress.

    ...
    August 1, 2012, 18:17
  • Civilization 4 Review by Chris "Velociryx" Hartpence (Part 2/2)
    Velociryx
    PART 2: After Several Days of Non-Stop Playing... (Page 1/3) The only way to write a review worth reading is to play the hell out of the game in question, so that's what I've been doing for the last several days. I've played quick, standard, epic, and accelerated start games, some through to completion and a whole bunch of "mini-games" to test certain theories out, attempt to stress or break the game, and experiment in general. Let me break it down for you. CivIV is divided into six basic areas that require player input and management at the city level. These areas are: Population Growth (food production) Productivity (hammer production, formerly shields) Money (to be used to either line your pockets or pay for research) Nothing new there....that's standard fare 4X [(eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation, and eXtermination)] stuff. Now add the following: Health (unhealthy cities are less productive cities) Happiness (unhappy cities are less productive cities) G-Man Rate (The rate at which your city generates "Great People" of different types) NOTE: None of these three are early game concerns....they are introduced gradually, as cities grow, and as technological research continues to develop. With the inclusion of these three areas, now we're starting to get somewhere! Now we're starting to get some interesting choices and tradeoffs! Ahhh, but there's more. In addition to these six basic areas, which are entirely "city centric," there are six additional areas that overlay the basic city-oriented structure of Civ IV, and tie it all together into a cohesive (Imperial) whole, and these are: Civ Traits/Starting Techs (each civ in the game comes with two traits and two starting techs, giving each a different set of opening abilities out the gate, and leading to a staggering variety of possible playing styles and strategies). Diplomacy/Espionage (flip sides of the same basic coin, and all about your relations/dealings with rival civs) Religion Overlay (seven different religions in all, with the option to found one or more of them, and a variety of compelling in-game benefits for doing so. Religion stands on its own, and also modifies Diplomacy (above) and Culture (below). Cultural Overlay (a measure of the overall strength, vitality, and enduring value that your civilization is creating, most prominently expressed in terms of how far your borders extend from your cities, and quite powerful in this regard, as it can allow cultural absorption of nearb...
    July 28, 2012, 17:41
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