Strategy & War
Every industry has its fixtures, and since 1991 the computer gaming world has had one in the form of Sid Meier's Civilization.
In a world where games are increasingly getting faster and faster, and I don't mean in terms of framerate, Civilization seems to be determined to prove that games where reflexes are completely useless and long term planning is everything can hold their own. Considering the fact that we are now on Civilization IV, and that each previous release has sold like hotcakes, it would seem like further proof is hardly necessary, and we can settle in for hopeful anticipation of what this new version shall bring.
Of course, to still be Civilization a lot also has to stay the same. As a game that attempts to live up to its very ambitious naming, this means that you are put directly in charge of a tiny group of settlers in the year 4000 BC. Consider yourself a deity or an immortal ruler; it doesn't matter. What happens from this point on is your glory. Or your fault. Not surprisingly, people find the concept appealing.
Certain things are true in all Civilization games, and of course they are true in this incarnation as well. Those settlers that you are bequeathed with at the start of the game build a city, which in turn can build Things. These include buildings, wonders of the world (Pyramids in Washington anyone?), and other units that can either build more cities, change the face of the planet, or rearrange the face of your opponent. Of course, other civilizations do not have to be opponents. They can be trading partners, allies, the people who pay you tribute, or the people that you pay tribute to.
And other civilizations are a good example of how Firaxis has, since the original, wrought the largest number of changes under the hood. Since Civilization II Gold Edition, multiplayer has been present in one form or another, but Civilization IV represents the first time the game was designed as a multiplayer product at the beginning, and the single player aspect was developed afterward. Simultaneous turns make a comeback from Civ III, but that only does so much to make what can frequently be a ten hour game any more feasible for the potential XXXX players who can participate. To combat that, Civilization IV allows for dedicated "pitboss" servers, games which players can join, make their move if it's their turn, and then leave to attend to other things. As a result, a group of people can play a game together on a weekend, but the game can, for example, continue to progress throughout the week in some manner until the next chance for a get-together. Unfortunately, the Mac version will not be able to host a Pitboss server, although the Mac version can join them, and thankfully can play with the PC version via direct IP.