on friday, barry moved our router to the basement. this was an improvement for him, as his computer is in the basement, but as i had been running on a long ethernet cable strung through the house, it essentially killed my internet access until new cable could be pulled all the way from the attic to the basement. worse, i tried to hook up the wireless internet adapter but couldn't get it to work. so i had no internet access at home friday & saturday, which made me fairly irate. fortunately i was hanging out with virago those days & only spent a few hours at home, so i didn't have to put up with it for all that long.
on sunday afternoon, barry finished pulling the cable, and my net connection was back in full effect. but the cable wasn't quite long enough; the router was apparently hanging in midair, dangling suspended from my cable. so barry proposed a trip to "a computer store" so he could buy an ethernet coupler (he already had plenty of short cables to patch with). he also wanted to check out call of duty 2, a new WWII-based battle game.
so we went off to best buy, quickly found the rj-45 ethernet coupler we needed, and wandered to the pc video game section. that was when i saw it.
longtime readers might be aware that i've been a fan of the civilization game franchise since as far back as 1993, when i first played the very first version of civ. i liked it so much i promptly went out and bought civilization for windows (technically the second iteration of the game; the first version was dos-based). when a new "sequel" would come out, i'd snap it up, and each version was always at least somewhat cooler than the previous (with the exception of civilization: call to power, which did not involve game guru sid meier and did not deserve to use the "civilization" name... a very sucky game with only a couple new good ideas behind it [i did like that it included tons of future tech, but you had to play that shitty game through 6000 years just to get to it, which wasn't worth it).
i grabbed the box and started reading it over. i knew i wanted the game, but did i want to wait a few months for the price to come down from $49.99? when i read the first review quote on the box, i knew i was in trouble. the review called civ4 "a major turning point" and said that new and long-time fans alike would be "blown away". the other review quotes on the box were equally ecstatic: to call them "gushing" would not be strong enough. the reviews weren't just glowing; they were positively exuberant. orgasmic. reverent even. and unlike the review quotes you might see in movie ads, it was clear that these reviewers were real otaku: hardcore gamer geeks who knew damn well how good the previous civ games were, and even how good the best strategy games out there were, and still they were creaming their jeans in exaltation of how fucking awesome civ4 is. a scan of civfanatics (a civ blog) shows that those reviews were not atypical. every reviewer, without exception, has given civ4 at least 9 out of 10. that's hot shit.
after reading the box, i found myself unable to put it down. not in a "page-turner" sense where you are enjoying a book so much that you don't want to stop reading—i simply knew that i must have this game, immediately, and couldn't seriously entertain the idea of not buying it right that minute. i had truly loved civ3 and had thought it was the best one yet—the improved diplomacy and "culture" features were fantastic—and the notion of a new civ game even better than that one was impossible to resist.
as soon as i got home i popped it open, installed, and started playing. it's definitely different. the old "government" system has been replaced with a subtler, more sophisticated "civics" system where you administer policy on a more atomic level. no longer must you simply choose between monarchy, communism, fundamentalism, and so on. and the introduction of religion is a nice new twist— previous civs had spirituality but you couldn't actually choose to be christian or taoist or muslim (on my first civ4 game, i'm the japanese and our state religion is judaism!) the graphics are the best ever by far, completely doing away with the "board game" look of past civs. and one of the most interesting new additions is the voiceover and narration done by leonard nimoy. leonard fucking nimoy! best game voiceover since burroughs did the voice work for the dark eye, says i.
i was a good boy and quit after an hour and a half to go pick up virago for dinner. then we went to mass ave video to rent the celluloid closet, which we watched. but when i got home around midnight, when normally i would've watched one or two show on my tivo and gone to bed around 1, i played civ4 until 2am and didn't even turn on my tv.
just when i was hoping to get more productive in the studio, it looks like i'll be spending most of my spare time for the next few weeks playing civilization IV.¶