Revisiting Civilization IV: Timeless Classic or Relic of the Past?

Written by Gaming

remember really liking Civ IV when I was much younger, back when I was only 12-years old and only drank alcohol on weekends. I was never that good at it, though. I tended to play on Settler (i.e. easiest) difficulty, and use the world editor to give me extra resources in the shape of a smiley face.

Since then I’ve moved on to Civ V and pretty much not touched its predecessor for many years because my computer has no CD drive and my copy of Civ IV needed one. However, it was on sale recently on Steam so I re-bought it and gave it a go and holy shit that was a terrible idea.

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An hour later, my empire had fallen because no less than THREE people decided to declare war on me

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I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert in Civilization games. I can win around 70% of the time in Civ 5 on Prince (medium) difficulty, but that’s pathetic compared to most aficionados. When launching back into Civ IV I thought “right, well given nobody ever declared war on easiest difficulty, how about we go one level higher to get me back up to speed”. An hour later, my empire had fallen because no less than THREE people decided to all declare war on me at the same time. I have no idea why they held such a grudge against me, but this felt decidedly unfair. Is it because I had the only place on Earth where the silver mines were in a smiley face?

Image: IGDB.com

But even despite all that, the downgrade from 5 to 4 comes with some jarring mechanic changes. You have to control sliders to allocate spending on science, culture, and espionage, as well as choosing specific civics to follow – a far cry from the streamlined yet deep policy system from Civ V. Most units have only one tile of movement, so the game feels sluggish. You now have to manage the happiness AND health of each city individually so you constantly need to be finding two different types of resource, let alone a third type that lets you build a half-decent army.

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Maybe I should have spent more time playing Civ IV as a strategy game rather than as “The Sims Global Edition”

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Maybe I’m the problem? Maybe I should have spent more time playing Civ IV as a strategy game rather than as “The Sims Global Edition”. Or maybe Civ V has coddled me by letting me play the game as a pacifist most of the time, but Civ IV’s meta is more aggressive. Or maybe I was just so blinded by nostalgia going in that the whole situation has given me a much needed corneal transplant in the matter.

It’s moments like these that remind me of The Great Gatsby by GCSE English. No matter how much you chase the past, you will never recreate the happiness from back then. Also, we’re all going to die and we won’t be remembered by anyone outside our closest friends and family. Additionally, the “valley of ashes” near New York is probably likely for causing the liver disease PBC… and I’ve lost my train of thought.

Last modified: 7th May 2018

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