1. Most Accessible Civilization Game Ever: The team at Firaxis has added a lot of new gameplay elements to Civilization IV, but one of the most subtle additions is in its interface, which for the first time in the series follows many standard strategy game conventions. Most players will just start playing and get right into the game without ever realizing it, but in Civilization IV you can actually left click on a unit, and then right click on the tile you’d like that unit to go to (or attack, as the case may be). That’s something that RTS games have been doing for years, but Civilization has never actually done before, due to its board game roots. Other interface additions include more changes to make it in-line with RTS titles (the mini-map is in the lower right hand corner, other info on the left, etc.) and the ability to see the odds of any battle (left click on a unit, then right click and hold on the unit you wish to attack), so there’s no longer any guesswork involved.

Also new are recommendations for units and technologies to research. When you’re given the option of researching a new technology, you will now see one or two recommendations showing multiple ways to play the game. You’re also given recommendations for creating new units in cities. It may tell you that a Warrior is the best option for a military route, or you could build a Settler for expansion. These can of course be turned off, if you know exactly how you’d like to play the game.

2. Unprecedented Detail: Just because Civilization is more accessible than it’s ever been doesn’t mean the game’s been dumbed down. On the contrary, for people who are crazy about stats and figures, there’s a ton of that to be found in Civilization IV. There are lots of new advisor screens, where you can see where all of your units are on a global map, or look at raw statistics like the average life expectancy of your people (versus the world average), your gross national product or approval rating. But you can also completely customize how your government works, so if you want a theocracy with a free market economy, caste system and universal suffrage, you can do just that.

3. Awesome Multiplayer: Civilization IV is the first game in the series that was designed from day one to support multiplayer. The result is that Civilization IV is the best multiplayer Civ game ever made, with new multiplayer options like simultaneous turns (adding a more RTS feel to the game), a turn timer (to force those slowpokes to hurry up with their turns), and turn limits, where the points leader at the end of a set number of turns is declared the winner. Worried that someone might drop out halfway through the game? Just turn on Takeover A.I, and if that person leaves, the game continues, with the A.I. replacing the player. And if that player decides to come back, he can take control again at any time. The Firaxis dev team and testers have been playing Civ IV multiplayer games for over two years now…and it just keeps getting better.