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Civilization V Review
publisher: 2K Games
developer: Firaxis Games
PIV 1800, 2GB RAM, 8GB HDD, 256MB video card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Sep 21, 10
|» All About Civilization V on ActionTrip|
It's been said many times before that video games are like a sandbox. Stick a kid in a sandbox with a bucket, a plastic shovel and he'll have hours of fun creating his own little world. Unless, of course, that kid is Vader. Then he'd split his time between pouring sand down his pants and searching the box's depths for Tootsie Rolls the neighbor cat took the time to hide for him (Glorious times. - Vader). Vader's preferences aside, most gamers prefer to skip going outside at all and instead turn to their computer. A long time ago a man named Sid Meier created a game called Civilization which was basically a big digital sandbox, but became known for two things, mainly:
One; it allowed players to guide a people from the dawn of time through the years managing all aspects of expansion, technology research and diplomacy with other cultures. Two; A huge time vampire that very often left gamers shocked when they realized they had played well into the wee hours of the morning, time after time.
Apparently it's cheap to hire giants to do all your farm work.
Hex-shaped clouds have always sort of pissed me off.
Many years have passed along with many Civilization sequels, which introduced new features and graphical tweaks to the series, including a foray into the console and portable markets with Civilization Revolutions. Each new version still preserved the original flavor that kept people playing 'just one more turn'. With the release of Civilization 5 from Firaxis (and publisher 2K Games), the formula remains the same. Of course, there are the expected graphical updates, which end up being a mixed bag, but I am getting ahead of myself. Other gameplay changes could be regarded as a step forward or backwards, depending on your play style.
Combat has gotten a major overhaul with units that can no longer be stacked on top of each other on a single map. A hex system now replaces the square grid based setup of the past. Ranged units can now barrage enemy units from a distance which is perfectly logical. Also cities are now able to defend themselves even if they do not have units garrisoned within. These changes are a step in the right direction, strategically speaking. This means that players have to pay much more attention when undertaking any sort of combat and have to really bring their 'A' game when trying to besiege another city, or find themselves needlessly throwing away troops. If you do manage to conquer the city you can choose to occupy it and add it to your domain, raze it for some gold or as a new feature, install a puppet ruler, which grants you the bonuses from owning the city but not have any say in what the city produces. Another side effect of these changes (good or bad, your call) is that full games do take longer to play now. Not a huge deal with a turn-based strategy game, but this will certainly eat (more) into the time you have allotted for sleep. And since there is no in-game clock, like there was in Civ 4, you will lose track of time that much more easily.
Civilization 5 also introduces NPC City States to the mix. These cultures start as single cities that you encounter as you explore the world. Each one has its own personality that determines how they react to you and your AI opponents. You can choose to leave them alone, try to take over their cities or ply them with gifts of gold or units to help win them to your side. Once they are your ally, these city states will begin sharing resources or from time to time, produce units for you. They can also be used as pawns to wage clandestine wars against your enemies. In one of my games China was rapidly expanding into my territory and I could not afford a full out war. Once they started to pick on the city state to my south, I simply funneled troops to the little city state and watched as they wiped out China in under 50 rounds.
Ally or not, city states will issue game wide challenges such as requesting the elimination of other city states they have a beef with, the discovery of new natural wonders (which also grant your Civilization with bonuses) or your attraction of a great person. Fulfilling these requests will garner a reward and favor from the city state. It also serves as a wonderful way to sidetrack you from your long term plans as some of the requests will pull you in a direction 180 degrees from your current goals.
Another change comes in the form of how your cities and their cultural influence affect the space around them. In Civ 4 the territory around cities would spread larger and larger as your city and its cultural influence grew. The area of influence your city covered granted you control of the resources within those borders. In Civ 5 this expanding area of influence does not happen as rapidly. Granted it still does grow, but if there is a hex that has a resource you could use, you have the option of buying it with gold, thereby adding it to your control. Acquiring these resources is important because there is a finite amount of each resource type available on the map. So if you have a unit that requires horses, you can only build a certain number of those units based on your supply of horses you control. This makes city placement, resource management and proper management of your troops that much more important.
Enhanced combat system and grid-based map is a refreshing change for the strategy buff, DirectX 11 support makes for a visual treat, the top-notch soundtrack fits each culture perfectly, other gameplay changes are enough to keep things new but still familiar enough for returning players;
DirectX 11 graphics may tax lower systems, changes to the combat system can mean games take more time to resolve, no in-game real-time clock (yet).