The problem with
writing the Civilization 5 review is that is takes time away
from playing Civilization 5... The game is almost 20 years old
now, with over 9 million copies of its various inceptions sold
worldwide. Now (as the press-release says) we have the fifth
offering of the multi-award winning strategy featuring that
famous ďjust one more turnĒ game play which has made it one of
the most popular titles of all time.
If youíve been living under a rock, Civilization
(Civ) is this: choose a
people, say the English, the Germans, the Aztecs, the Chinese
etc, start them from their hut-dwelling dark ages, and build
them up into a mega-empire. You do this via warfare, culture,
trade, diplomacy and science. Fight against rival empires and be
the first to either dominate the globe, build the perfect utopia
or fly off into the stars. Itís way more involved that just that
of course, but hence the beauty of the game.
Now the good points Ė The graphics are greatly improved in Civ
5. The world is lush and more believable than ever, and the
presentation and menu system is quick and intuitive. Advisors
are helpful without being annoying, and the gameplay is smooth
Warfare in Civ 5 is now more fun than ever. The new hex-grid
system gives a real tabletop feel, and the end of stacking units
makes things way clearer and battles easier to manage. The
combat itself makes much more sense, and now gone are the old
Civ days when for example, a bunch of knights beat a tank
platoon! Out of all things itís the combat which Civ 5 has got
the most right.
There are lots of little tweaks that only we Civ veterans can
pick up that have made the game run better and the interface
easier to manage, but to the uninitiated, all you need to know
is that Civ 5 will prove to be a very satisfying experience.
But of course there are things I didnít like Ė Firaxis has
gotten lazy with its cut scenes. Yes, the intro is nice, but
thatís all theyíve got! Firaxis must have blown their whole
budget on one 3 minute movie. No world-wonder cut scenes, no
victory cut scenes, nothing! Shame, Firaxis shame!
The new Ďsocial policiesí option is of dubious merit. This
interface feels more like a role-playing character tweak list
than a genuine advance through time. The player selects bonuses
like a McDonalds menu, and itís possible to create for example,
a despotism with free-speech! I think here Civ 4 was better, and
made more sense with its growth from one social state to
another. Also taking out religion (while politically correct)
makes it less fun too.
My final gripe is that in effort to minimize the interface, the
chance to learn stuff has been removed. In old Civs when you
developed something new, there was always a little paragraph
that told you why this advance had been important to history.
Now you have to go hunting for it in the Civilopedia. Especially
in the social policies menu, I didnít even realise what I was
choosing. Here the game feels a lot more like Civ: Revolutions
Deluxe than Civ 5.
Ultimately itís a very enjoyable game. If youíve never played
Civ before, go for it. If you loved Civ 4, there will be things
in Civ that will impress, but a few dumbed-down changes that may
annoy. But hey, thatís why God invented Updates.