Since the day I secretly played Civ I on a university library computer in the early 90s, I've been a Civ addict. I bought and played all the versions for so many guiltless hours. I also played lots of other games that have come around, including first-person shooters but nothing could compare to the adventure I got from playing Civilization besides SimCity. Then came along Vice City and Battlefield 1942 which opened up a new world for me in gaming. They were unlike other games out there. Vice City had an open-ended world and style that was beyond compare and BF1942 had the huge realistic world and multi-player gameplay that was finally technically possible (I don't play Everquest or the other online RPG). But even with these first-person three-dimensional adventurous worlds, I still played many hours of Civ III and SimCity. Then the turning-point came when SimCity 4 was released. It was a slight upgrade from the earlier versions, billed as a completely new version. Technically it was but the game-play hadn't changed for years and still placed the gamer on top of an isometric map while the rest of the gaming world was playing in an immersive battleground or exploring the fictitious cities of San Andreas and Vice City. But city and empire building remained in the hands of SimCity and Civ III and that's what I really loved. Unfortunately, the new technologies were starting to take me in and the gameplay of Civ and SimCity felt forced and stale. I started to feel like I was working on a huge database program or creating a dynamic website. SimCity and Civ stopped feeling like a game and started to feel like work (SimCity, in fact, just got boring). Civ III still offered a bit more of the spirit of adventure. But, I could "see" the back-end database working and compiling my actions. Everything became a chore and I was no longer playing: place bus stops every three tiles, start each city with a temple. When I read about Civ IV's development, I was eager for an upgrade in game-play; something that took strategy and city/empire building into the immersive and three dimensional world with other real players. Everything I read, though, showed there wasn't going to be much of an upgrade. Was this going to be another SimCity4, I thought? I tried not to think about it and followed the development hoping that there must be something new with it. So, when the game came to the store, I bought it, of course. Then I tried to play it. I'm not exactly sure what they meant when they advertised "3D living world" on the back of the box. Surely it wasn't just smoke and mirrors, but something that really mattered. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The 3D doesn't really look 3D as most gamers expect today, and it adds absolutely no functionality to the game. In fact, I played it for a while without even looking at the graphics because they were frankly distracting - sure, some were cute, but I don't need cute. Indeed, I was manipulating a database and went through the motions over and over (build a temple in each city, don't make anyone mad, build four galleons to transport 12 troops to a different continent). CivIV tried to break the assembly line feel by adding a few more possibilties, but this is where they make the mistake of SimCity4. They tried to fix the fundamental flaw of the gameplay by adding more possibilities. For me, it became even more of an assembly line/database management program and just added more micromanagement. Civ4 failed to spark my imagination. Let me explain that the earlier Civ games also don't spark my imagination today like they did years ago. I also feel like I'm simply manipulating a database with those games when I play them. This leads me to believe that the time for these games has come and gone for me. I need something different. But I absolutely love city and empire building and strategy and having complete control. But I no longer like it to feel like I'm manipulating a database by putting in a query and getting canned responses. The execution of the gameplay needs redesigned. I feel like the Civ franchise should have matured and still maintained the spirit of the game. Civ 4 has not accomplished that for me and I really had my hopes up and spent the money to be entertained by a great game where I looked forward to turning on the computer in the evening and escape for a few hours, not even looking at the clock, running my own empire. That never happened. Civ4 isn't fun. I actually forgot I bought it until I found it in my CD drive - it wasn't on my mind. I'm not the only one who has recognized this maturation of gaming. Wil Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, also had this revelation when SimCity4 failed to attract gamers' imaginations after it launched. He admitted there was just too much micromanagement that it became work, and that simplifying it wasn't the answer because people want to be in control; it was time for a new direction. He decided to take SimCity into the 3D immersive realm with a new game, Spore. Whether this game that he's currently working on will accomplish that, I'm not sure, but the problems with SimCity and Civ no longer being fun are for the same reason. Th new versions are not able to bring back the same exhiliration from the early days when I put the CD in the computer and fired it up for a few hours of fun. I can only speak for how I feel, but I do believe that the testament of SimCity4 is going to be the same for Civ4. Firaxis and Sid Meier have the technology and imagination to let gamers create and escape in their own worlds, but they're relying on yesterday's execution which isn't working for me anymore - and I suspect a few other gamers might have the same feeling. If my two cents are worth anything, I suggest Sid Meier takes the Civ franchise back to the drawing board and reinvent it and recapture the excitement in a new gameplay.