Civilization V Review
PC and Mac
PC: September 21, 2010
Mac: November 23, 2010
The game of hexagons, now with world-conquering
Civilization is one of those game: easy to pick up, murderously difficult to master. The challenges begin right from the off and won’t let up until you become the ultimate lord and master of the entire world or are reduced to dust, your people scattered and disillusioned. And it’s very addictive. The Civilization series gave birth to the ‘one more turn’ mantra that has seen many happy relationships fail, and all due to the fact that the games are somehow so enduringly moreish that just ‘one more turn’ is never enough.
The aim is simple enough: own the world. Whether you go about this through war, trade, diplomacy or a combination of all the above is completely up to you. And while some civilizations receive bonuses for certain paths all are more than capable of achieving victory any way you want. This also affects how you play certain races. The Japanese for instance receive advanced samurai warriors that outperform their sword-bearing counterparts but become useless in the later game and so encourage quick, early expansions. You advance in your civilization by expanding your empire and improving your cities. By constructing cultural buildings your cities improve in the strength of their influence on the surrounding lands, even encroaching upon your neighbors ways of life. In practice this is less intense than it sounds and is merely related by different colors, but it still makes for dense gameplay. Combat has become much more refined from all previous games in that only one unit may be present on any single tile, replacing the infamous ‘stack of doom’ exploit that saw hundreds of military pieces crowded onto one block, effectively drawing out battles into tedious exchanges that could last for hours. This also encourages tactics and placement as you will have to make crucial decisions when maneuvering well in advance of any actual fighting.
The overall pace of Civilization V has been slowed right down as well, mostly due to the fact that conquering cities is no longer simply a case of moving a unit into an unguarded city. Now, with cities able to hold out by themselves, the game takes on a more deliberate approach. Cultural expansion is now also less viable than in Civilization IV as you are only given one tile at a time to spread out into per city. This and other similar changes are all designed to make the game less autonomous and to give you more power over the individual demands of your people. Cities that create advanced armies may well be lacking in population infrastructure, and as leader you must decide whether to divert money away from military production there or attempt to buffer the city’s needs with a less effective trade route. It is commendable of Firaxis that they have managed to add all this control and yet still refined the user interface so that it is even clearer and more intuitive than ever before. The personalities of the animated avatars of great leaders from the real world also add a unique touch, and though the set number of greetings and responses becomes repetitive after a while they are delivered with charm and credibility.
The main problem with Civilization V is that it is Civilization V: if you’re not into this sort of game then this is probably the best one in the series to make you change your mind, but it is still a monster of a turn-based strategy game and if you genuinely don’t like them then you probably won’t be interested. For everyone else though it’s simply fantastic, a triumph for Firaxis and another bold step on the continuing adventures of world domination, byte-style.
- Easy to pick up
- Intuitive and deep
- More character than previous entries
- Very addictive
- Punishingly difficult on all but the lowest setting
- Puts a strain on most lower-end computers
What is your favorite thing about the Civilization series?