Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Games -- Civilization 4

Sid Meier’s Civilization – one of the most highly-acclaimed strategy game series in existence. Any serious gamer worth his salt knows about it – whether he plays turn-based strategy games or not. And the fourth installment was eagerly awaited in our home – two out of four brothers were eager to play the latest update.

And Civ4 is in many ways the same game all over again. The basic premise is still there – explore, build cities, research technologies, kick other civivlizations while they’re down, race to space, etc. But several other new features have kicked in, many of them adding a new layer of management complexity to the already complex strategy game. Great Persons, National Wonders, cultural expansion, luxury resources… well, I’m not sure if some of these are new since Civ3 – I didn’t play that one much. The most important change has to be the streamlining of the interface such that it becomes easy to tell at a glance what a city is building and how long it takes for it to grow.

Anyway, as expected, the game is still incredibly engrossing. I sat down yesterday morning to “just give it a try”, and after what seemed like a few short turns found myself contemplating whether to nuke the Arabians in the early 17th century.

So yeah, awesome Civ4 gameplay, as expected. I finished two games in short order, one took me 4 hours because the silly Germans and Spanish kept trying to declare war on me, and I had to be satisfied with a Time Victory. The second took less than two hours – full peace/diplomacy, science/culture all the way, never entered a state of war.

But I’m not playing it again. Why? Because the game’s performance is crap-tastic! You can play smoothly found maybe 5-10 minutes before the game starts slowing to a crawl. Going to the lowest possible settings and quitting all running programs doesn’t help at all. Apparently I’m not alone, as I’ve seen numerous message board posts lambasting Firaxis for the terrible performance of the game regardlesss of the system running it.

It’s a testament to both the addictiveness of the gameplay and how much patience I’ve gained recently that I was able to finish two games at all. But as it is, I’m not playing it again until some radical performance improvment happens.

Maybe I can still find a copy of Civ3…

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