Civilization V review
There’s only a few definites in this world: life is short, taxes are a pain in the ass and Sid Meier makes beautiful strategy games. That’s right, mark Civilization V down in the success column as Firaxis Games has delivered another stellar product that is among the year’s best.
Overwhelming with an insane amount of depth, Civilization V offers enough replay value to fill at least 3-4 strategy games. Intelligent, surprisingly engaging, and ever-inviting, Civilization V is user-friendly and should bring forth a slew of new fans that have never experienced the brilliance of one of the best turn-based strategy series in the history of the video game industry.
Relying on the usual assortment of world domination, empire building, tactics, Civilization asks players to employ any or all of the following: diplomacy, commerce, science, cultural systems, and military strength. All the same fundamentals from previous games return as players control one nation with their one leader as they attempt to create world peace, become the world’s strongest power and, perhaps, enforce a mighty fist upon their enemies. This is done over the course of turns that continue to pass years by from the beginnings of a tribal state to the near-future. In the matter of 6-8 hours, players may be entering an age where cannon balls are no longer acceptable weaponry, so newcomers need to beware that Civilization V is a gigantic, yet fantastic, time-suck that steals your life away.
Thankfully, the learning curve is no longer as steep as it has been in the past due to the improved menus, presentation and tutorials. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s geared towards casual gamers such as Civilization Revolution was; rather, it’s able to draw in new crowds at a record pace to the intuitive menus.
Still, the fact remains, Civilization V is as much about building cities, amassing armies, starting/ending wars, researching new technologies, controlling natural resources (oil, fur, gems, etc.), establishing trade agreements and much more. The level of depth is astronomical to the point that it may potentially scare off a few gamers who aren’t into the idea of micromanaging. Adding in the element of negotiating with rival nations brings Civ V above and beyond the standard video game for longevity as it’s often a tug-of-war battle between many to stay afloat and relevant in the world. For instance, in the 1700’s Napoleon was leading the charge with points but by the 1800’s he was surpassed by two individuals due to conflicting wars and autonomous city-states begging other nations for support to rid the world of Napoleon’s trials to conquer all.
While Civ V offers no single-player campaign to keep players invested in following a leader or nation from an upstart to a world power, the offline matches are more than worthy of taking the place of a campaign due to their length. Often, the matches will run approximately 12-14 hours depending on the size of the map, how many players are occupying the game, and the progress of each nation.
On the flipside, the multiplayer experience isn’t as enticing as the single-player. There are match customization options, but the lack of play-by-email or single-machine options take it down a notch to being a standard PC game from the previous decade. Even the online matches feature lag that was so prominent before cable internet became popular.
Aside for the multiplayer drawbacks, the computer AI often was too stubborn to trade or partner up against rival nations, even if they were on the brink of extinction. It was often easier to take the military route rather than diplomacy as the opponents wouldn’t listen to a word I had to say until I was at their doorsteps with armies barging in to gain their attention. Before they knew it, their nation was too far gone for any type of saving.
If there has to be one PC game on your holiday list for 2010, make it Civilization V. It’s the best turned-based strategy game on the market, let alone in the past five years.