Those who cannot remember the past are condemned
to repeat it. And if you’re familiar with the Civilization series, you’ve probably
repeated the past time and again, under various circumstances, each time creating a nation
and playing out the whole of human society as you see fit. And it might not even take
place on Earth. And you might have an anachronistic team of FDR and Tokugawa Ieyasu conspiring
to make your life miserable. And you might do something completely nonsensical, like
founding Christianity in the year 755 BC. I have no idea whatsoever how that works.
But it doesn’t have to. It’s Civilization. Egregious anachronism aside, Civ IV gives
you a wide variety of means by which to control the development of your people: There’s
the ability to settle cities and set their populations to harvesting the surrounding
terrain, the ability to research new technologies to build new and interesting stuff, the ability
to wage war with your neighbors, make peace with them, bribe them to take potshots at
THEIR neighbors, or teach you the mystic secrets of POTTERY. You can conquer neighboring civilizations,
overrun their cities, install your own government, and re-develop their land THE RIGHT WAY THIS
TIME. You can spread religion to keep your people happy, keep the people in nearby cities
happy, and maybe make a couple bucks off them as they display their faith with their pocketbooks.
Your ultimate goal… well, there are a number of ultimate goals, such as complete military
domination, a diplomatic victory by being elected the winner by the U.N., or being the
first to construct a functioning space station. SCIENCE! Let’s be fair, though. A game on this epic
a scale takes a hell of a commitment. On the standard length setting, one campaign might
last in the vicinity of six hours. And that’s the standard campaign. There are also Epic
and Marathon settings, which… well, let’s just say you’ll be getting to know Catherine
the Great and Ghenghis Khan better than actual humans in your neighborhood. There’s a multiplayer
mode, but while I’d love to engage in this quality battle of wits with my friends, I
can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to flog me with an HDMI cable after four hours.
If you want to start closer to the middle, there are historical scenarios available,
as well as a scenario customizer to go all 1984 on this beast and recreate history in
your own image. He who controls the present controls the past; he who controls the past
can help himself to all the iron and ivory and just run over everyone with War Elephants.
Betcha Orwell never saw that one coming.