November 22nd, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

I was completely pumped about the release of Civilization IV, and I got a copy pretty quickly.

Civ III is neat and all, but I was lured in by the promise of more sophisticated societal/governmental models, and the 3d eyecandy sounded pretty tempting, too. Once I had it loaded up, I was stoked about the Leonard Nimoy narration and mildly tickled by the new religion angle.

It took about a week for the love affair to end, though. CivIV is visually cluttered, sort of pokey and the new “civics” model feels really fussy and perhaps overcomplex.

Not a fan.

Fun rating: Not really very fun … more like a job, and that’s considering how much I was willing to put up with that in previous versions. I haven’t played it in over a week.

Mario Kart, on the other hand, continues to work its wiles.

I’ve momentarily suspended online play while I lick my wounds and learn my way around a few of the tracks a little better, but even without other humans, it’s a very fun game. As a lot of reviewers noted, but I didn’t want to assert until I saw it for myself, the way the game dispenses powerups follows a sort of “comfort the afflicted/afflict the comfortable” model. The further back you are in the pack, the better the goodies you get when you run over a powerup box … The further ahead you are, the more feeble the stuff you get. It can make races a lot more suspenseful.

Guitar Hero has edged up a little in the overall standings. It’s currently a real challenge at the normal difficulty level, which involves having to use four fingers instead of the three you get away with on the easiest setting. A side-effect of play is the way all rhythms in the day-to-day environment must be understood and rocked to well after the game’s been turned off for the day. Even crappy songs with an appropriately hard beat become grounds for head-bobbing and … well … rocking out. Actual good music is paroxysm-inducing.

One cool thing I’m starting to realize about that game: At its harder levels it will be a real challenge of the sort that I might want to avoid most days, but at the easiest level, it’s a good chill-out-and-zone game, like Tetris or Bejeweled.

Today at lunch I ended “I Wanna Be Sedated” with some violent guitar motions, then I gave my imaginary audience the finger.

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