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Here's an Interesting perspective from a user on Amazon that has played the Civ Game that I tend to agree a lot with:

3.0 out of 5 stars
You Don't Need Civ4, August 21, 2006
By Kevin R. Haughn
This review is from: Sid Meier's Civilization III Complete (Video Game)
In late 2002, I took a second job at a major electronics retailer and decided to use my employee discount on what looked like a cool game: Civilization III. That game changed my life... in the gaming sense. It was everything I ever thought a computer game should be: turn-based strategy with multiple avenues to test my ego and self-promoted genius. Above all features of Civ3, however, my most favorite was the customization of the game through the map editor and the wonderful online resources of the Civ community. (I've downloaded more Civ3 files than MP3s.) This allowed me to express my self-proclaimed genius with new rules, technologies, and units (and all the accompanying chronologies and requisites) at my discretion. Nothing could get any better, I had thought.

When Civ4 was being talked about, however, I couldn't imagine on what grounds they could improve - except perhaps making the game even more customizable and thorough. Well, you've already read about the differing features of the game: less micro-management, more diplomatic and trade features, new technology trees, enhancing popular mechanics found in previous Civ titles, and of course, going 3D with it all.

When playing Civilization IV, you sense an overwhelming POTENTIAL to be a really great game. In my mind, that potential has not been fulfilled, and I hereby advise you to purchase Civ3 Complete instead and forego Civ4 if you haven't chosen so already. If you have already purchased Civ4, let's send a message to Firaxis Games that they need to do better - let's stop purchasing Civ products until they are actually without so many bugs, that aren't rushed to be released for the holidays, and that don't insult our intelligence by requiring expensive "expansion packs" which merely add content that should already have been included in the original release.

Here is a list of comparative reasons to only own Civ3 and not Civ4 and boycott future Civ titles until something changes for the better:

1. There is no map editor in Civ4. Instead, they included a "World Builder" which is so awkward and strange. It is not like Civ3's map editor where you can set starting positions, resources, civilizations, and terrain BEFORE you play the map. The "World Builder" of Civ4 only allows you to alter scenarios from the installation or randomly generated maps. You cannot create maps from scratch - you can only change what has already been created within predefined parameters.

2. Who needs 3D graphics for a turn-based strategy game? Civ4 is not fully 3D; it merely allows a tilting view from ground level to overhead. That can be cool, but consider the offset: it is unnecessary for this genre, it diverts computer resources from other cool and more thorough features, and it makes the game extremely difficult to modify. For Civ3, there are well over 1,000 things you can either download or make yourself and put right into the game. You don't have to know XML or Python programming languages as you would in Civ4. Civ4 requires advanced education (like a graphics design or computer science degree) to simply alter things like governments, units, buildings, and game rules. Waiting for others to design them (like the amateur online community or the professional expansion packs) isn't so fun anymore.

3. Expanding content for more money? This was a problem with Civ3, as well - its first expansion pack was a total waste of money because everything was later put on the second expansion pack. People bought the first expansion pack because they loved Civ3 so much and didn't know it was a waste. (Many video game makers are taking advantage of gamers in this way, not just the Civilization makers.) My point here is to fight back. We already know what they are going to pull: Civ4 has an expansion pack out there titled Warlords. It basically includes elements intentionally left out so as to somehow formulate a "new" product. In the base version of Civ4, you have the Great People: artists, scientists, merchants, and prophets. Hmmm... now we get the warlords, eh? Oh, and a few other civilizations and buildings left out from before. Nice try... Boycott this type of marketing out of sheer principle. Play Civ3 Complete until Civ5 comes out if you have to. Maybe Civ will be less of a cheap shot then.

4. The last reason why you should be content with Civilization III and completely forget that Civilization IV was ever made is the most simple. Purchasing Civ3 Complete right now (1) will cost you less than half of Civ4; (2) is fully expanded while Civ4 is still looking to make more money off of us; and (3) Civ3 has the very same level of addictive game play as any other Civilization title. If you have already dropped the cash for Civ4, simply do not support Civ4 any longer. In fact, uninstall it and put it in your drawer as a sad chapter of shameless marketing. Yes, Civ4 is fun, but it is does not live up to its potential in most ways. Playing Civ3 will take up your time quite nicely until they release a REAL title that doesn't take advantage of us so blatantly.

To conclude, my overall point to stick with Civ3 and forego Civ4 is this: without an easy, efficient, and overwhelmingly powerful customizing interface (like an awesome map editor that allows FULL customization), we are simply asking for "re-tread" products. The fact that Firaxis did not include a kick-butt map editor proves in my mind that they expect us to wait for their "expansions" to come out and spend at least $150 each before they move onto Civ5. Hold out with Civ3 Complete and wait until Civ4 goes away.
oninowon: I really like how generals are handled in CIV 3 over 4. In Civ 3, an army led by a general becomes very powerful and (at least for me), I quite enjoy rampaging through multiple enemy cities (kind of like the feel when playing RISK).
I agree. CIV 3 also has a better random map generator and editing tools that are much more user friendly, I just made one map today to play in the Ancient to Middle ages only. Much harder to do in the later games in the series.
Plokite_Wolf: From what I've seen and read, every Civ has its own following for its own subtle reasons (apart from nostalgia). You'll still see fans swearing Civ2 is the best. You'll still see people just migrating to whichever Civ is the newest. It all comes down to gameplay preference.
Lebesgue: Yeap, I am in the crowd that swears that Civ 2 is best :-)
Civ II, and III have the best user-friendly editing tools compared to the rest. They are my favourites. Civ IV comes 3rd. I don't care about V or VI.
oldgameryeah: I have played Civ 4 Beyond the Sword, but not Civ 3. I like Civ 4 Beyond the Sword but some of you prefer Civ 3. Before I consider buying Civ 3, I would like to know why some of you like Civ 3 more that Civ 4.
All I remember from Civ3 is the landscape where everything is covered by railroads. Civ 4 has much deeper strategic play. But Civ 1 is still the best one.
I prefer the look of III, but the gameplay of IV or V. Civ III suffers from the city spam sindrome and the AI feels more agressive. Civ III is more direct I'd say. In Civ IV you have the option to play epic games making eras longer. Empires would have less cities.

The agressiveness or city spam is something I also saw in Civ II last versions and Alpha Centauri.
athineos: I don't care about V or VI.
This is worthy of a quote and thumbs up :D

It's tempting to say the Civilization series ended with Civ 4.
I have never played Civ III but I've watched a couple of video playthroughs out of historical curiosity. I loved what I saw: the city graphics, the terrain, the unit animations, how leaderheads change with each age... The sound design is great. However, I also realized that every single gameplay mechanic (every single one) was vastly improved in Civ IV. The jump in game design from III to IV is astonishing.