Friday, March 14, 2008

game reviews, part 1 - Civ IV Beyond the Sword

Felt like I might as well give my impressions of the few games that I've acquired & played over the past 6 months; I guess I might as well do that in blog post form over the next few days this weekend as I have/find time for blogging.

Anyway, the first game I got since returning from China and getting a household established was Civ IV: Beyond the Sword.

Yes, it was more of an expansion than a full-on new game, but I had heard all the hype surrounding this and thought it would be really worth a try.

Indeed, it gives you a real bevy of options for new game variants to try - you have an adjusted-rules "regular" game with new cultures and leaders to have and fight against, and there are also 20+ different mods.

Considering one game of Civ IV can take at least 2-4 hours to play through (even on "fast" mode), this can get pretty involved.

I hadn't really felt like I played through the "old" version entirely, but this really, really gives me more options.

This sort of game doesn't ever offer much in the way of a narrative story; but it does offer a pretty immersive experience that can draw one in very fully from the start.

As others have said before, it's a "desert island" type game in that if you were stuck with only one game to play, this is probably one of the best picks that one could make.

That being said, I've found that:

1. I like playing games with a story, so if I'm looking for something that is more escapist fare, this isn't always what I'm looking for.
2. The game experience is so immersive that I can't really find a good time to play it - after work is hard as that time tends to be for the wife and I together; before sleep is also not a good time as I'll stay up late playing it. The weekend is good, but if it's sunny I don't really want to be spending all my time inside in front of a computer.
3. My PC set up uses our LCD TV as the monitor - and given that while playing, the screen can get pretty cluttered with a lot of small-font text - and it's not comfortable to play at a distance. This is a game that (for me) works best with a real laptop or desktop setup.

Anyway, it has a lot of replay value and I will play it again and again, just not that frequently.

Apparently the online multiplayer is good too, but I haven't ever tried it.

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