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Date: 20 February, 2006

Civilization IV

Civilization IV
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'You implement new technologies, introduce religions, holy cities, missionaries, great people, wars and innovation until you end up with a society that can dominate the world. I love it!'

Creating civilisations, dodging snowballs and printing religious art - Ray Hatley with a mixed bag of software.

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Online Freebie

Snowball Warfare
Suitable for age 8 and upwards

The Winter Olympics tend to be taken very seriously but I thought with all that snow around it was definitely time for a bit of fun.

Snowball Warfare is a great little freebie that anyone can play in minutes but it takes a while to master the finer points.

The idea is very simple. At the outset, the player, conspicuous in their blue hat, ‘runs’ around a snow covered car park whilst getting pelted with snowballs by a gang of red hat wearing opponents. It is possible to pelt the baddies back but each time you get hit by a snow ball you lose some power (indicated by a ‘power bar’ that hovers over your head).

If you manage to get past the first level you will find yourself in a forest setting with even more baddies and lots more snowballs. Eventually, and inevitably, your power will expire – end of game.

The trick seems to be to find all the ‘Power ups’ like warm gloves and flasks full of hot drink and most important of all to find your blue hat wearing friend equipped with a huge snow shovel so they can help you deal with the baddies.

This game isn’t as easy as it sounds but don’t give up too soon as this game does become compulsive, perhaps the best bit is that each time you get clobbered you get offered another chance to try again!


Religious & Festive Clip Art 5000
Suitable for all ages

Religious & Festive Clip Art 5000 from Focus Multimedia is exactly what it says on the box. 5000 images that are ideal for illustrating school projects, newsletters, presentations, invitations and posters.

The software comes complete with a built-in graphics viewer that makes it easy to select the precise piece of clip art you need. I was particularly impressed with the huge selection of images – and I had no idea that 5000 images would take so long to flick through!

The images can be exported into any desk-top publishing package that supports .WMF formats and is suitable for use whenever religious images are required. I particularly like the Christmas and Easter art which could brighten up a lot of church newsletters and primary school walls if used constructively.

The software subject matter is multi-denominational and offers a range of images to suit all occasions and is ideal for explaining cultural differences around the world. It is simple to use and is royalty free so you can use it whenever and wherever you like. Just the job if you don’t have the funds to buy cards or stationery!

Top Game

Civilization IV for PC
Suitable age 12+

Sid Meier’s highly addictive and absolutely massive Civilization IV has got me into all kinds of trouble since I started playing it during the Christmas holidays. The idea of the game is to create a civilisation that eventually dominates the virtual world. You start out in the stone age with a single ‘settler’ and as the game progresses and time passes (you have no idea how much time can pass when you are playing this game) you implement new technologies, introduce religions, holy cities, missionaries, great people, wars and innovation until you end up with a society that can dominate the world. I love it!

Meglomania aside, this really is a fine game and although it only takes a few minutes to learn, it offers enough challenges to keep a keen gamer amused for months. I was fascinated to discover that the game’s narration is by Leonard (Startrek’s Mr Spock) Nimoy. The graphics are stunning and an ‘intuitive’ interface that does a lot of the mundane ‘thinking’ for you means the action is fast and furious. Only one word of warning, this game is extremely resource hungry so please don’t try playing it on a dodgy old PC ‘cos it probably won’t work.

Civilization IV is a multiplayer game which means it can be played over a LAN (local area network) or even over the Internet. Enthusiastic game developers will be pleased to know that a ‘World Builder’ editor, XML and Python scripting language editing and a Civilization IV Software developer’s Kit are included with the game.

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