Desert Island Discs is a radio show broadcast here in the UK on the poshest of stations, BBC Radio 4. In the show, various celebrities and politicians choose which particular gramophone recordings they would choose to be stranded with if they found themselves on a desert island. Should Radio 4 ever decide videogames were culturally relevant and subsequently launch “Desert Island Games”, then it’s a fairly safe bet that Sid Meier’s Civilization series would feature frequently. In the fourth instalment of the game, the rules are remixed and the graphics are tarted up, but the engrossing turn based strategy remains as compelling as ever.
The game should install just fine from its original optical media discs. Simply place the first disc in your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If installation does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Autorun.exe” file manually. At the end of the installation process, the installer may offer to install Xfire. Unfortunately the Xfire service shut down some time ago, so simply skip this part of the process.
If you’re installing the Steam version, installation is automatic and managed from your Steam library from within the Steam program itself.
Before starting your quest for world domination, you should install the latest patch. Users who purchased the game on Steam do not need to install any patches, as the Steam service itself keeps the game fully up to date. For those of us playing using the original retail version, you should download and install patch 1.74. You can download the patch here.
Once the patch has downloaded, simply run it and follow the on-screen prompts.
Uncivilized copy protection
The retail DVD versions of Civilization 4 are protected with a copy protection system known as Safedisc. Unfortunately, citing security concerns, Microsoft removed support for Safedisc protected games both in Windows 10 and, retrospectively through Windows update, in Windows 7 and 8 as well. Unfortunately this means that in order to play the retail version on a modern PC, you will need to obtain a de-protected or cracked version of the game. Due to copyright laws we can’t link to this file directly, we can tell you however that the cracked version of the game we obtained was by a group called “Reloaded” and had an MD5 hash of AE3B47863E7D88636A5C87D90643E845. As always, take extra care on the shadier parts of the internet when looking for these files.
When you obtain the cracked Civilization 4 executable, you simply need to replace the existing one. Use Windows Explorer or File Explorer to browse to the games installation directory, by default that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization 4”. Find “Civilization4” or “Civilization4.exe” and rename it (e.g to “old”). Now, copy over the de-protected Civilization4 file. Once it is in place, you can start the game from the Start menu or screen normally.
Graphics and other settings
Civilization 4 isn’t a game that’s big on fancy graphical effects, but that’s no reason why it shouldn’t look as pretty as possible. From the games main menu, choose “Options”, then on the window that appears, choose the “Graphics” tab. The window shown below should then be displayed.
Some settings here are down to personal preference, for instance “Show Health Bars”, while other settings affect the visual quality of the game. For the most part you can simply set every setting to the maximum. You should set the following options as shown below for maximum visual quality:-
Globe View Buildings Disabled – Deselected
Full-screen Mode – Selected (unless you wish to play in windowed mode)
High Detail Terrain – Selected
You can also set the games screen resolution from this window. Generally you should set this to the highest available option. If you use a widescreen resolution (such as 1080p, 1920×1080) some of the games cut-scenes may appear a little stretched, but the game itself should look fine.
“Please login with administrator privileges and try again” or similar error when starting the game – This is the games copy protection failing to initialise, you will need to find a crack/hacked version of the game or purchase the Steam edition instead.
Multiplayer and other notes
It is possible to play Civilization 4 in multiplayer mode, though the services that facilitated this originally have long since shut down. 2K games very generously started a program whereby customers could get a free Steam key for their copy of Civilisation 4. Since the Steam gaming service includes Multiplayer functionality, this meant that Civilization 4 is fully playable online again. You can find more details of this offer here. This program is due to shut down in June 2017, so hurry if you want to take advantage of it.
The game is also compatible with direct IP connections and therefore compatible with the Evolve gaming service, however we haven’t tried multiplayer using this program so we cannot comment on how well it works.
Save games for Civilization 4 can be found in
C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Roaming\, or, if you’re running the Steam version, in
C:\Users\(your username)\Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization IV\Saves\single.