All I wanted to do all day was finish work so I could install it and start playing. After a short 9 hour workday, I finally got home and loaded it up. Right from the main menu I knew this was gonna be good. The loading screen is a slick tribute to the original Civ with a voice narration of "in the beginning" (all the narratives and voiceovers in the game are done by Leonard Nimoy, who has the perfect voice for this sort of thing) and a remix of the orignal theme music. Another neat feature I've noticed from the original Civ is the return of the histogram where you can replay the history of the world turn by turn and view all the major events that happened. In another tribute to the original Civ, the "Dan Quayle" chart is back. Once in the game, the UI is impressive. They've completely rethought the way information is presented to the player. The amount of information packed onto the screen is impressive. Just about every piece of vital game play information is just a mouse over away. Stuff that previously required flipping through various screens is now integrated into the UI. Despite all this information, the interface is clean and very intuitive. And all of the gritty details are still there for the civ fanatics. It'll feel instantly familiar to civ veterans. I was able to jump right in and start playing without cracking the manual. All of the core gameplay concepts are there with lots of great new stuff. The traditional government system has been ditched in favor of a more complex civics system. If you've every played Alpha Centauri, it's very similar to the social engineering system of that game. Sound has always been a weak point of the series. The tinny sound effects and cheesy muzak didn't exactly go with the epic scope of the game. That's no more. An excellent musical score and robust and varied sound effects along with full surround speaker support are much welcomed additions. Graphically, the game is stunning. Civ has finally made the jump to full 3D and it looks great. It's hard to remember this a turn based strategy game and not the latest RTS. As if finally realizing that this game is more addictive than crack, a little clock can be displayed in the upper right hand corner of the screen with settable alarms to remind the player to eat, sleep, shower, go to work, etc... ;f Okay, enough typing, back to my game.