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Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Gamespot Previews Civilization IV
8:18 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

In a recent Gamespot preview the developers of Firaxis' upcoming Civilization IV, the next in the iconic series, answered some questions about what the game will offer and some of the changes they are making in core gameplay. With the goal of encouraging decision making rather than following established play patterns, Firaxis has changed many of the underlying rules of the game.

To give an example of just how serious Firaxis is, consider that you will no longer be able to transfer production from one project to another, a major exploit since time immemorial. Johnson admits he's a bit nervous about such a bold step, because it will certainly force Civ veterans to rethink their basic strategies, but it's something that needed to be addressed. Here's how the exploit worked. In earlier Civ games, let's say you had been building a great wonder for 39 turns. But before you could finish it on the 40th turn, another civilization finished it before you. No problem, because you could simply transfer all that production to a different project and pick up as if you had been building it for 39 turns. In Civ IV, when you lose a race to finish a wonder, you lose all the production made on it, and you can no longer transfer it to another project, though you will be refunded an amount of gold.
The combat system, as well, has received an update, including some modifications to unit rating mechanics to avoid situations like spearmen killing tank units. Such quirks in the engine are one of the areas on which the team is working.
Killer stacks, or having dozens of units in a single square, are a perfect example. "This is one of those things that we sort of overcorrected for in Civ III," Johnson explained. "In Civ I and Civ II there was this crazy rule where if you attacked a stack and it lost, the stack was entirely wiped out, and it'd be like, 'Wow, that's crazy.' So we got rid of that in Civ III, but, of course, the natural side effect of that was, 'Well, I'll just build this gigantic stack.'" To counter the killer-stack problem, Firaxis has upped the effect of siege weapons, such as cannons, catapults, and artillery, by modifying them into stack killers. "They have a collateral damage effect, [so] that when you attack a stack, you will also hurt up to six other units in the stack. So you can build stacks if you want, but the correct counter for that will be, 'OK, I'll build a bunch of catapults and cannons, and I'll attack your stack. And all your guys will be hurt, and you'll be in my territory, and you won't be able to heal, and I'll just mop you up.'"
A new addition to the series is Religion. In the past Firaxis has been reluctant to delve into such a sensitive subject in a computer game.
"Now you can choose religion, but the religions are pretty vanilla. We don't say that Christianity is better than Islam, or Islam is better than Hinduism. It's just a way to spread culture and another way to win the game. And through religion, we can add a lot more color to the game in terms of historical texture."
Other areas to receive a new look include the tech tree and multiplayer game play, the latter being a main focus of the game from the beginning of development. The game itself may have more than a passing resemblance to the recently released Pirates! as it uses the same graphics engine.

Although there has been no word on a Mac version of Civilization IV, it seems a likely possibility. Keep an eye on IMG for any updates. For the full preview click on the link below.

Gamespot Preview
Firaxis Games

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Archives  News  Gamespot Previews Civilization IV