Denny Markovic
22 Sep, 2010

Civilization V Review

PC Review | Montezuma is still an arse.
The turn-based Strategy genre has always been notorious for being addictive, in-depth and soul stealing. From Total War to Sins of a Solar Empire (though this one is a bit of a hybrid), it’s probably one of the last remaining genre’s that hasn’t changed much in its approach and execution, but remains consistent as developers continually improve and tweak the mechanics behind them. The biggest culprit of becoming nastily addictive would have to go to Sid Meier’s Civilization series though, as rumour has it that it’s actually swallowed people whole due to its one-more-turn nature of addiction (this rumour is probably true because we said so). But for the survivors of the soul-sucking series, you’ll either be pleased or horrified to know that Sid Meier’s Civilization V is just around the corner, and it’s pretty much improved on the previous PC title, Civilization IV in just about every way.

For those that have absolutely no clue about what Civilization V is all about (shame on you); Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game where you relive the ages as one of many world leaders to choose from, and the objective is to build cities and prosper, research new technologies, build more things and expand as the ages fly by. By the end of the game (which usually ends at year 2050AD) you must emerge victorious through one of several different ways, which include military dominance, the space race, utopian society or a pure diplomatic victory which is achieved through being the most consistent Civilization in all aspects. It’s a tough and usually very long journey when it comes to a game in Civilization V, but it’s pretty awesome the whole way through, primarily because there are just so many ways to approach the game. Want to be a super powerful military force? Go for it. Economically superior? Can be done. It’s the options available in Civilization V that give it so much life and it’s all a huge amount of fun too.

Montezuma probably started this.

Montezuma probably started this.
Civilization V has changed a fair bit compared to the previous PC iteration, Civilization IV. Probably the biggest change we thought was the complete removal of religion. Religion in Civ IV made things quite interesting but it also felt a little out of place and unnecessary, so the removal of it does not impact the complexity or depth of Civ V by any means; in fact its removal has given way for the new additions such as Social Policies and City States which serve much greater purposes and are far more entertaining to play with.

Social Policies are a new addition and are basically ‘rewards’ for your Civilization once you exceed the targeted culture points at the time, and allow you to make your Civilization more specialised in certain areas such as fast expansion or military focus. They aid your style of play through allowing you to enhance certain aspects of your Civilization permanently. As an example, Honor policies greatly enhance your military units if you put your social points into that, so it’s great for people who like to play with a militaristic style. Some policies can’t be combined with other ones however, as they may oppose, so policies must be picked wisely as usually the path you choose must be committed to. It’s also possible to win a match through maxing out six total policies, so for the culturally strong civilizations, this is certainly an option.

I hope that's Montezuma being attacked.

I hope that's Montezuma being attacked.
The next major addition comes in the form of City States, which at the start of the game serve as neutral cities that are AI controlled and do their own thing in the world. However, they can prove to be major players throughout the course of the match, as allying with them can prove highly beneficial to your Civilization. Allying with them is done through gifting them gold and/or Units or doing minor side missions they offer, which in turn rewards you with trade resources they have on offer or, if they’re a militaristic society, war units to use. While not essential to your cause, City States can prove to aid you massively throughout the course of the game, but can also be a minor curse as time to time a side mission involves warring with other City States and/or Factions, which can cause rifts among the Civilizations and bigger problems than you might have thought. Careful thought and wise decision making is paramount to the success of your Civilization, and this applies to all areas in Civilization V.

Apart from these major additions, combat has now become much more entertaining and more tactical with the addition of non-stackable units and hexagonal tiles, and also some defensive changes in Cities and such. Units must now be positioned and used accordingly instead of just stacking and attacking, so there’s a lot more tactical flair and thought put into the positioning of units in combat. Defensively as well, Cities can now fight back without the aid of units, making it much more difficult to take Cities and this forces the player in planning out their attack and being clever rather than just applying an outright steam rolling. Units also take much longer to produce now compared to previous games, so each unit on the field is much more valuable and requires lots of care in battle, lest you be punished for poor tactical ability. It’s overall a much better system in place of the old combat system, and will certainly please the more tactical and militaristic players of Civilization out there.

George is a pretty cool guy. A lot better than Montezuma.

George is a pretty cool guy. A lot better than Montezuma.
We’re going to be honest here though; probably the most noticeable and biggest improvement in Civilization V lies in its presentation value, because it is one hell of a pretty game. Though turn-based strategy isn’t exactly meant for looking great, Civilization V goes the extra step to look fantastic and perform well too. The user interface is phenomenal and extra easy to use, so playing the game and getting into it is simple and highly rewarding. The world and its inhabitants is all modelled in a gorgeous 3D style with great lighting and a noticeably evolving planet. Perhaps our favourite touch though is the diplomatic screens with World Leaders, which is now full-screen with a full 3D representation of the character, and they even speak their native tongue. Though it may seem like a minor thing to some, this tends to add a massive amount of immersion into the game as the authenticity is absolutely fantastic. Not to mention the game has a wonderfully composed soundtrack which adds a lot of atmosphere, and you’ve got yourself a really polished and gripping game.

In all honestly, it's really hard to fault Civilization V when it comes down to it, as the team at Firaxis just seem to know what they’re doing, and they do it really damn well. If anything, and this is being incredibly nitpicky, the game requires a lot of time to really get into and from time-to-time we feel the AI can be a little too aggressive, but these things are pretty much cosmetic (or personal; we hate Montezuma) in flaw. To put it really bluntly, Civilization V is just a really good, entertaining, addictive and highly polished game that only goes to show that Firaxis are masters of their craft and can somehow, with a bit of magic, evolve their franchise to even greater heights than before. Now back to killing Montezuma...
The Score
Sid Meier's Civilization V is a fantastic sequel to the popular series and once again pushes the genre forward in polish, accessibility and insane depth. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
Always Monty. Friday will be a good day.
3 years ago
*arm pump* YES! Nice review, it makes the anticipation even harder. And seriously, Montezuma is such a pain!
3 years ago
No Mac love yet = icon_sad.gif
3 years ago
You didn't mention the new notification system? Rather than the camera jumping around and forcing you to deal with events, you get a list of items to click and deal with at your leisure. Sounds great to me as I always end up on a tangent after the start of a new turn and forget what I needed to do.

How can you call Sins turn based? The game is completely devoid of an end-turn button. It's more a realtime 4X strategy game. I'll let Total War slide though, since I enjoy the grand campaign view more than the real time battles =)

Some examples of turn-based strategy you could have used: Advance Wars, Age of Wonders, Galactic Civilizations, Greed Corp, Battle Isle, Massive Assault, Master of Orion, Heroes of Might and Magic and Disciples
3 years ago
^Well I mentioned that Sins is a bit of a hybrid as its core mechanics are heavily influenced by Turn Based Strategy, and it certainly does give off a turn based kind of vibe.

Honestly the notification system didn't really make me go "HOLY CRAP BIG CHANGE". It's a nice addition but more a subtle one I feel. It can still flick you around a bit though, particularly in some combat scenarios.

And I TOTALLY forgot about Heroes of Might and Magic. I haven't played one since number 2, but yeah that game was pretty bad-ass back in the day.

This is far more bad-ass though.
3 years ago
Denny wrote
And I TOTALLY forgot about Heroes of Might and Magic. I haven't played one since number 2, but yeah that game was pretty bad-ass back in the day.

This is far more bad-ass though.
Play HoMM3 before you say what's more bad-ass. ;)

While I personally preferred #2, most people regard #3 as the pinnacle of the series.

Of course, I'll be looking to get Civ 5, but given that I have a backlog of games I'll likely wait for a Steam sale.
3 years ago
So did anyone pick this up yet?

I just played the demo from Steam...

1.5 hours later it boots me out saying I've had enough...

The first hit is always free...

Now this site's background is there...

Taunting me...

3 years ago
Ah that was great fun.

Just finished my first game.

Small, Continents, Washington, Diplomatic Victory, Rank 7

I had the damn Siamese expanding like wildfire on my northern border, and insisting on creating god knows how many units, massing them on my border, then attacking.

I had focused on science, and thankfully, despite having little to no military, managed to hold them off with my superior development.

He then made peace, and declared war again 3 more times...

Meanwhile I've made allies with several city states, and expanded over a few continents, researches future tech like 8 times, and despite a late push for cultural victory, I settled for Diplomatic with enough votes from my allied city states.

Epic fun.
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