25/11/05 by Chris Stavros
Discovering technologies will open paths to new technologies and alter the map by providing new resources for players to use and fight over. The technology tree provided with the game and viewable through the minister screen will show the paths of the techs. A new feature is that the paths are no longer rigid as in past versions.
Players can arrive at a tech from several different technologies, greatly increasing the variables of play. The techs also include a greatly increased amount of governments to research as compared to the limited types in previous versions. As you discover each tech, a famous quote of an historical figure is read by actor Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame.
Players can now mix and match the kind of government their civilization will have. It could be a monarchy but with full religious freedom and yet have slavery. Their are five civics categories to choose from and each has a number of levels providing great diversity in the type of government you have.The type effects happiness of citizens as well as city production and relationships with computer controlled civilizations.
The best new feature is the religion choices. The world's great religions are tied to technologies and being the first to research a given technology for it will reveal the particular religion. Players will discover Hinduism, Budism, the Jewish Faith, Christianity, Islam and Taosim. The religions will spread along trade routes, and players can build missionaries to help spread a favored religion. Among the civic options is naming a state religion which can help with happiness as well as again effecting foreign relations.
An in ovation added to the game is the appearance of great historical figures. People such as Homer and Henry Ford appear in cities throughout the ages, and they can increase a city's effectiveness, speed production of world wonders, discover techs and even start golden ages. This is a fun edition to see men such as Thomas Aquinas and St Paul pop up from time to time.
The last of the major new editions is the new military experience options. the power bars are now gone from units replace with a numerical ranking and a special symbols indicating the experience traits a unit has. If a unit is constructed in a barracks it gets a free choice at start and several wonders allow for bonus traits. As the units survives combat the trait level can increase and new types can be added. One of the best features of the game is all units can be upgraded so nothing is ever useless or outdated. For example I built a swordsman in 2000 BC that survived the game and numerous upgrades to finish as a mech infantry unit that was nearly invincible. When you
upgrade previous traits are retained so veteran units are hugely valuable.
The graphic engine in the game is the best ever put into this series. The units are wonderfully rendered and animated, and the cities are nicely detailed, even displaying on the map buildings and wonders constructed in a given city. The controls are smooth and easy to use and the interface is well laid out and includes full text when highlighted. The music and sound are excellent throughout, with wonderful theme music for each race as well as well done tribal music for the game theme songs. The units will speak in their native languages when you zoom in and move them about.
The only real problem I had with the game was excessive lag as the number of selected civilations increases and the ages advance. For my system nine or more civs caused this lag but other people have told me they had trouble at five civs and others only with 12 or more. I hope Firaxis addresses this problem quickly as it appears to be the only flaw in the game.
Overall this is the finest example of this great franchise, finally surpassing Civ 2 as the best in the series. With so many races to choose from as well as wonderful eye candy in the units and terrain screens the game is fun as well as being educational. Historical units, great leaders and cities and a world to win with variable victory conditions give this game endless replayablity.