I previously attempted writing this article prior to playing the expansions to this game.
My initial complaints were the sluggish unit generation and arbitrarily long winded research system.
That can wait, as I'm about to discuss what makes civilisation 4 utterly pointless to the usual RTS fan.
The Combat system is as follows:
75% of the time time the computer controlled enemy wins without casualties.
The best example of this is when my unit of 3 US marines were slaughtered by a band of 19th century musket users without inflicting a single casualty.
The other best examples are the 27 other occasions on which this occured.
Not to mention the destruction of 88mm acht acht artillery pieces to the same black powder muzzle loaders.
What I have gathered is that the enemy rate of fire is somewhere in the region of 10-fold that of your own, higher grade units and will fire to the exclusion of your units, causing a situation by which a muzzle loader can fire 12 times while a M1A1 thompson SMG, a weapon known for its high rate of fire in its era, fires twice at best, both bursts of which will miss.
This crippling fake difficulty makes success by military impossible unless you forgo all advancement bar the dark ages and spend the rest of your 2 millenia building cavalry and infantry from a dozen different settlements.
The ineffective nature of air support runs throughout the game's combat system, meaning that all the kirovs in the world won't stave off all 3 of those riflemen, or cause a single piece of visible damage to the town across the border.
The nuclear weapons have all the range of a gnat's fart and all of the effect, to the point where non-combat units can merrily prance about in the nuclear fallout without injury.
ICBMs and other weapons of mass destruction that mummy and daddy warned you about lest you poke your eye out do precisely bugger all and call me cynical but last time I checked cities very rarily survive those, so when I look to see my opponant's largest visible city, a measely rank 16 settlement completely intact I begin to lose my temper.
Now, I'm not the sort to hold a game up to those in its genre that it doesn't try to be like, or else I'd have patched SCUD storms into this festering piece of shit and Bismark would be calling me an infidel out of the other side of his anthrax scarred face, but Civilisation 4 is not a well designed or executed game.
The game's blatant cheating and fake difficulty hamstring the efforts of the average RTS player and as a player with little experience in the Civ series, it fell on deph ears as soon as I noticed that the enemy AI had built every single one of its cities precisely one square outside of nuking range, an act that showed the game in all its meta-gaming fowlness.
To depart from the non existant combat system, I move onto the political system.
Civilisation 4 seemed to me to be a very politically driven game in terms of gameplay, making you lick enough collective ring-piece amongst your national neighbours to make the american government come round for some pointers for its next conference with Israel.
This is another visade the game broke when my largest allies, all of which I had at pleased or higher, suddenly heel turned and declared all out war, my only remaining allies being the people I hadn't given a shit about because they weren't immediate neighbours.
This declaration of war was in spite of not only my actions, by my membership to the UN and so forth, and it's certainly disconcerting when the UN of all groups declares you an infidel and begins waging holy war on your highly technologically advanced arse.
Precisely half way between the war against my Norscan Empire and me calling bullshit and ending the programme (which was difficult, since the game pops up even if the task manager is used, the cunt.) I was actually asked to wage war on one of my few remaining allies by the UN that had declared me an infidel and sent an endless legion of musket wielding mooks not only into my country, but seemingly teleporting them directly into my capital city.
Now onto the difficulty curve, or rather, the difficulty line.
There is no departure in difficulty between settler and Normal.
I've played long term games on both.
There is no difference.
Even on settler difficulty you have to watch units with a combat score of 24 die to units with a score of 10 or lower.
Normally I wouldn't fault a game for trying to be difficult, I enjoyed both dawn of war games and their expansions and I particularly loved Dawn of war 2 because it was more difficult and more squad orientated, relying on cover and skills.
This game is an abomination unto the RTS genre that needs to be eradicated.
How this game achieved the acclaim it has is beyond me, but if the politics I encountered are anything to go by, I guess there's a lot of cases of brown tongue going around the community at large.