Sid Meyer’s Civilization IV: War of Two Cities is a BlackBerry game published by Concrete Software, and developed by Oasys Mobile. I adore the Civilization series on PC; It is one of the series of games that I will buy for the rest of my life on launch day and binge until I launch a spaceship to Alpha Centauri (one of the winning conditions). From the title I knew it was going to be a mobile game based on a small part of the Civilization experience. If they even programmed 10% of the fun of PC Civilization, then the BlackBerry game is going to be a hit.
The part of the Civilization experience that Concrete Software tries to emulate is probably one of the most fun instances of the actual game: two closely located cities locked in battle, slugging it out until one city has been captured by the other.
The gameplay is simple and fun. Two cities of asymmetrically balanced fighting power wage war on a close-up battlefield. Between the two cities lies a border movable by only infantry. Farms and mines add to your city’s production so long as they are on your side of the front. Players must manage and spend two resources: food and ore.
Resources and Units
Food is what you use to buy troops you send into battle. If you’ve got a farm within your borders your food production is sped up considerably and you will be able to pump out more units. Offensive units come in 3 flavors, have 3 different buying costs and all move towards the enemy base indefinitely. The cheapest are infantry, they are the core of your military and you can deploy one when your food meter gets to “1”. Infantry units move the border, capture mines and farms, fight other infantry, destroy ranged units and are easily defeated by mobile units. Costing twice as much as infantry are the ranged units, which attack oncoming units from afar. These ranged units are good support units and supported by infantry can really plow through an enemy ground force. Mobile units are 4 times more expensive than infantry and are specifically geared to roll over ground units with ease. It’s pretty exciting when you have a group of four ground units closing in on the enemy city and they deploy a mobile unit. To destroy a mobile unit, you can either hit it with your siege weapon or build one of your own so they can meet on the battlefield.
Ore is used to keep your Siege weapons running. When your ore stores reach 100% you will be able to fire a siege shot from your city. The siege shot is fired by a sliding angle bar, and then sliding power bar that you have to time just right in order to fire an accurate shot. If you’ve got a mine within your borders then you’ll be able to get off more siege shots, which can cripple an enemy’s offensive or halt their cities’ production.
Adding to the elements of a close-up city battle are campaign perks. Completing each level in the campaign unlocks a scientific discovery giving you a game perk that you must utilize in order to dispatch the next, more powerful foe. You’ll recognize the scientific discoveries from Civilization: Pottery, Masonry, etc. The discoveries give you a specific perk in game, ranging from cheaper infantry to faster ore production. The campaign also goes through a few different ages of civilization from the ancient era, to modern times. I always love going for science and waging war on less advanced peoples in the Civilization series.
Most battles have one side with a close farm and the other with a close mine so each city has a strength and a strategy in which they can wage war. The siege shot instantly kills ground units and when they hit a city, food and ore stores are cut and production is paused for a brief period. In front of each city is a city wall that can be weakened by siege weapons and will buy players a bit of time if the enemy is at their doorstep (I found that deploying a ranged unit when the enemy is at your doorstep to be a good strategy). The COM player has made short work of me when it seized the opportunity on the battlefield and taken away my production advantage. I’ve learned that most games are won or lost by the first couple of minutes of play, and I’ll be hard pressed not to go after the enemy’s mine or farm right out of the gates as going for the city in the early game usually leads to your enemy making short work of your initial strike.
I’m a big fan of Civilization and I’m glad this mobile variation didn’t detract the spirit of the game like so many other mobile games based on a popular PC series brand. I’ve got to give some credit to Concrete Software on the wonderful BlackBerry polish and port. The standard cell phone versions that they must have started with looked like a typical java game that could very well be played on a low-power Motorola RAZR. The BlackBerry version runs smooth (the frame rate looks higher but that might just be a an illusion) and you can see a lot of the battlefield on BlackBerry’s pixel-dense screens.
I give Civilization IV 4 stars out of a possible 5, with a subjective rating of: I will not be bored for approximately 2 months.