In Play

Sid Meier puts the player in the role of Supreme Leader

In Play

Civilization IV

2K Games, $49.99, PC

Sid Meier's Civilization IV puts the player in the role of Supreme Leader of one of 18 different civilizations from Stone Age to space age. It's a turn-based game that emphasizes strategy over reflexes; an extensive single-player game combined with vastly improved multiplayer options making for some serious replayability.

The game begins after you pick a civilization and start your first city. You're in charge of everything from guns to butter. Build a shiny new tank, or be responsible and start a university? One of the joys of the game is the sheer number of options you can pursue. If you're less detail oriented, however, the game features advisors that can sweat the small stuff. Can't decide whether to build a barracks or a granary? Assign the decision to your domestic advisor and take charge of the looting and pillaging. There's some tedium involved later in the game when you have tons of cities, but the micromanaging is greatly reduced from Civ III.

The worlds you explore are alive and vibrant thanks to a spanking new 3-D engine. Everything from rivers and windmills to the deaths of your little pixel foot soldiers is beautifully animated. The sound effects keep up, though I wouldn't miss the world music background that seems ubiquitous with every installment of Civilization.

The real fireworks start when you begin running into surrounding civilizations. War is hell, but it's fun and profitable too. Sick of Augustus not sharing his resources? Take 'em! You can also win by diplomatic, scientific, or cultural achievements if you're more Gandhi than Genghis. It's (almost) as gratifying to win by smooth-talkin' as by putting your enemies to the sword.

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Civilization IV, Sid Meier, 2K Games

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