Sep 26, 2010

Civilization V review'ish

So, being a junkie for Civ IV:Beyond the Sword and its wonderful mods and modmods such as Fall From Heaven 2 and Rise from Erebus, there was never any question if I was going to get this game or not. I would have bought it even if all game reviews butchered it completely. If you're reading this and felt the same way about Civ IV as me, then don't bother reading further, go download the 100 turn demo on Steam and get a feel for it yourself.

If however you haven't played Civ in a while or you're completely new to these turn based games of conquest, read on.

I'll try to keep this somewhat short and to the points, covering the principles of the game and the most noteworthy changes from previous titles in the series.

As the game opens you take control of one of many upstarting tribes in an unexplored world, and its your job to make sure your people dont get gobbled up by barbarians or other civs while advancing in technology (or falling way behind) from just finding out what a wheel is, to how you can eradicate nations with nuclear missiles. True for any version of these games there is never a shortage of challenges, whether you're a warlord bent on conquering the world, talking and trading your way to domination through diplomacy or just trying to keep the barbarians out of your cities, and Civ V is no different.

If you like this kind of thing, you are guaranteed to have fun with this game and lose precious hours of night time sleep. I thought I had it bad with Civ IV, but this is even worse. When I started playing this game a couple days ago, I was playing from 6 pm and got so sucked into it I was VERY surprised when I threw a glance at the watch and saw it was suddenly 4 am in the morning. One.. more... turn... Its kinda scary really, this game should really come with some kind of warning.

If this hasn't scared you away yet, I'm just going to list the biggest changes to the game from Civ IV:

  • As shown in the photo above, the world is now hex based instead of squared. Game is more tactical and also feels a bit more like a traditional table game aka Axis and Allies, Risk etc.
  • No more than one military unit per tile. HUGE change forcing drastic rethinking of how to use your army. No more stacks of doom! You normally have very few army units compared to previous Civ games and micromanaging them is key.
  • Ranged units have more than one tile range. Positioned correctly your cannons can fire from behind your front line units without retaliation.
  • Religion and espionage mechanics from Civ IV are gone. There are still some religion based civics and buildings in the game but it doesn't affect relations with other civs like in the other games.
  • Civ happiness affects your entire civ instead of each city, and dipping too far into unhappiness causes big penalties to production, growth and army efficiency.
  • City States. These are basically mini-civs that are limited to their own starting city and don't compete to win the game, but they can still play a large role. They give missions, can be conquered or if they like you enough give you bonuses in form of free units or extra food or culture.
  • With the basic research in place all units can take to sea without need for making ships. All your units can embark water tiles and move around and make landfall on islands and other continents, but they can not fight ships and are vulnerable to attack without escort.
  • Cities can be tough to conquer. They can only have one defender garrisoned, but even without defence it can take many attacks to break them, and they also fire back at attackers and can launch ranged attacks on enemies in range during their turns.
  • Civilizations are more specialized with special abilities. Some of these are currently a bit too strong I feel and could use some balancing. Japan's military units for example always fight as though they are full health essentially making each of their units very deadly even if they have just a sliver of health.
There's of course a lot more changes in the game but from my own time playing it so far these are the biggest differences from previous games. 

Given that you enjoy strategy games and can get your head around all the differences from Civ IV and before, I can guarantee you are going to have very many hours of fun and frustration with this game. There are also a lot of mods already released and more to come, promising even more ways to play Civ V through mods if and when you get tired of the original game. My impressions are based solely on single player experience, I haven't tried MP yet but even disregarding that part of the game completely I can still easily recommend this game for any strategy game enthusiast.

Edit! A bit more play time with the game has reveales some issues with the game I found worthy of writing about, please read this as well before taking the final dive into the wallet for this game.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I always inspired by you, your views and way of thinking, again, appreciate for this nice post.

- Norman

Vads said...

Uh thanks Norman. My snark dectectors a little off at the moment so I'll just take that as a compliment!

In other news, for anyone who read this blogpost and are considering a purchase of Civ V, I'd like to also recommend reading my followup writeup on the game, revealing a few of the problems with it I've found slightly discouraging after a bit more playtime.