I spent yesterday evening playing Civilization IV, Sid Meier’s latest attempt to take over my life. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be “classy”. Civilizations I through III and Alpha Centauri were crack, no doubt about it, but Civilization IV is…I dunno. Both more refined and more addictive at the same time. Like a mixture of crack, fine wine, and absinthe.
The first thing you notice about the game is how beautiful the menu is. Game menus are almost always a good indicator of how good the game is going to be. If the menu looks crappy and slapdash, the game probably is too. If the menu is elegant and beautiful…you get the picture. Civ IV’s menu is elegant and beautiful, not to mention well thought-out. There’s even an option to set an alarm to remind you when you’ve been playing for a certain amount of time, which is good because if I start playing Civilization on a Saturday morning, there’s a very good chance I’ll still be playing Monday morning and end up being late for work.
The second thing you notice about the game is how beautiful the new 3D engine is. The UI is a work of art and does a brilliant job of being functional while staying out of your way, and the way units and cities are rendered makes it easy to tell their statuses at a glance.
But the most brilliant thing about this game is the music. Past Civ games have had good original music, but when you play the game for 12 hours straight, the music gets seared into your brain and echoes around your skull for the next week. Civilization IV makes this problem a thing of the past by using a huge variety of classical music as the in-game score. The variety means there’s not much repetition, and the music is absolutely gorgeous, which really contributes a lot to the game’s classy feel. Plus, with all that classical music being piped into your head while you play, you’re probably gaining IQ points. It’s a win-win situation.
Oh, and did I mention that every time you research a new technology, the voice of LEONARD FREAKING NIMOY reads a quotation from a famous historical figure? Talk about sparing no expense.
In short, I expect my productivity outside of working hours to drop to nil for the next few weeks. Damn you Sid Meier.