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Ozzy's Review of Civ4

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  • Ozzy's Review of Civ4

    This forum looks pretty empty so, unless it pisses off the mods, I'm gonna repost some stuff here (don't ban me please!), even if its not entirely pertinent, it'll liven the place up a bit.

    Here is my review of Civ4-MP (originally written for Civ2-MPers):

    I've only played 2 MP games, so I'm still quite the beginner with it, I don't know any of the settings really, never done a team game, just did the quick duels Eyes likes so much. So I'm probably a very underqualified reviewer. But y'all asked for it, so with my very limited experience, I'll do my best.

    According to Eyes most of the games (ladder games) are timed games that only go 150 turns or so. With an excellerated speed to it to quicken it up (which is a good idea). I think you invent quicker and maybe build quicker, but I didn't look too closely at it.

    150 turns (or whatever it was we played, i forget) makes for a decent game of about two hours or so. (obviously you can play whatever length of game you want). But I believe you can start at whatever age you want, so you could start in the industrial age or middle ages if you chose.

    There are different premade maps that come with the game specifically designed for multiplayer. All the care we took to make balanced maps for Civ2, they've incorporated in the vanilla Civ4. Some maps make things exactly even (a mirror map) perfect for a duel. Other maps are less natural (like a maze map) and meant for purely strategic games. I haven't tried any. Also there is an even start option (i believe) where all the core strategic resources you need are placed near each player's capitol to avoid any whining about resource inbalances.

    I still don't like the simultaneous moves, but I may be getting used to them a bit more(just a little bit mind you). Its still often a faster finger situation which is frustrating for the more patient, strategic player. Especially if like you've got an exposed settler that ended its turn next to the opponents warrior, and you could move it out of harm's way at the beginning of the next turn, but a bunch of your cities just finished building something so you get pop up windows asking for the next build order and you can't get to your settler in time to save it from your opponent. That really sucks.

    With this some battles are decided not by who has the best strat, but by who is quickest with the keyboard. An element that seems very "anti-civ". Yet at the same time it adds a certain urgency to the game that can be kind of exciting. (like if i was on the other side of the above settler scenario). Beating the other guy in a fastest finger shoot-out is fun.

    Other things about the game itself are just general chagnes to the game overall that you've probably read in other reviews about SP. Units are more customizeable (a very cool feature I think). Experience earned gives you the ability to pick different bonuses for your unit like a boost against archery units, a boost when defending a city, or attacking a city, etc. I really like this idea. Plus the one number for strength is really nice too combined with this. The different bonuses units get determines whether they are good on D or attack, not an A or D number. And since you can customize that, it gives the player a lot more control and adds a lot more strategy to the game.

    You have to anticipate what units the other guy is building and customize your units to counter them. The first game I was in vs. Eyes he totally screwed that up. He sent a big stack of mounted units against me (horse archers with strength of 6). I anticipated this so I built spearman units which are like pikeman from civ2, customized against horse units. So my spearman with a strength 4 had a 100% bonus against mounted units bringinig me up to an 8 vs. his 6. Plus there were other defensive modifiers.

    If he was smart he would have brough a more diverse collection of units and beat me, but he didn't so he got torn up. He learned a little bit by the second time we played.

    Also as you may have heard from different reviews, ICS is dead. Whew, indeed. If you don't have the infrastructure back home, you just can't support a big army or many cities. In our second game I built a big stack and sent it towards Eyes, but that stack cost me so much money I had to put my science rate down to 0 and I was STILL losing money. Yuck, that really sucked.

    Civ4 is all about balance. You can't just focus 100% attention on any one area and neglect the others or you're going to get burned. I almost was, but I was smart enough to recover and I beat him anyways, hehe.

    Wonders are much less powerful in Civ4, but still fun to have (at least in SP).

    There are many more nuances to the game, like culture, leader points (and leaders), more specialists, etc. Its really cool, but in some ways its almost too much. Its like they fought micromanaging not by making the game simplier, but by making it more complex so that if you want to check and maximize every number you'll just go crazy so its better to trust some of the automation.

    The worker automation is... better, but still far from perfect. Typically I'll automate most of my workers and then keep one or two on manual control to fill in the things that the auto-workers missed. I hardly ever bother to see what squares my people are working in the city. I just put that on auto and don't worry about it.

    Tech is nicer in that spill-over gets applied to your next tech, so you don't have to micro-manage the slider everytime you get close to discovering a tech. Just leave it alone. Civics are nice. Religion is nice.

    For SP I'm just loving it. Few complaints so far. For MP... meh, it was damn fun beating down Eyes TWICE, but nothing exceptional. I think I may have just soured on dueling in general, no matter the game. An epic civ4 MP game, like a diplogame I think would be fantastic.

    For the duel though, I don't like timed games, I don't like the simul moves, I don't like deciding something based on a score once the timer runs out. But I assume stuff like that is largely an issue with ladder games and duelers. As I said in the Diplo-FAQ, Diplogames are the fine wine and opera to a dueler's beer and tractor pull.

    So I haven't played any more "sophisticated" MP games to make a judgement off, but I think it definitely has potential.

    As for the smoothness of it, I was amazed that in the games vs. Eyes there was no lag or other performance problems. Of course we never made it to later levels or played on big maps, but for our purposes everything went very smooth. Smoother than some Civ2-MP games I've played. I can't guarantee that to any other games or people though, maybe we just have better computers and internet connections, I dunno. I didn't see any host advantage.

    Overall I think its very good. I just wish I had more time to play. Two thumbs up.
    Captain of Team Apolyton - ISDG 2012

    When I was younger I thought curfews were silly, but now as the daughter of a young woman, I appreciate them. - Rah

  • #2
    You should try a few larger team games, Oz. They're interesting for many people who enjoy a bit more intrigue and cleverness than dueling. Orchestrating attacks with teammates is fun stuff.

    Regarding the popups...

    Ctrl-O, "Minimize Popups."

    ...will cause them to appear at the end of the turn only, after all units have been moved.

    (Or, just make sure you have something else queued and it won't pop up at all.)
    Friedrich Psitalon
    Admin, Civ4Players Ladder
    Consultant, Firaxis Games