Sep 28, 2010

Followup comment on Civ V

Hey again!

At the time of writing this, I've had a couple more evenings to spend on Civ V after my review'ish post about it a few days ago.

The reason I'm following it up is because I have a few adjustments to give the game overall after a bit more time with it, taking into consideration some things I missed during play before my first evaluation of the game.

What has become more glaringly apparent after a bit more play time is some serious, and I mean pretty bad flaws with the coding for AI behaviour which are all related to their military strength from what I've seen so far.

A couple examples:

The A.I thinks reasonably well for land based warfare (they understand using ranged units and artillery and tries to place infantry up front), but if they decide they want to take a city or city state that has tiles surrounded by water, they fail. I don't mean just they're doing a bit worse, I mean they fail really bad. On an "Earth" map I held a city near Mexico that had only two land tiles next to it, and I was able to hold it without using any defenders at all, just city retaliation and bombardment during my own turns. This was against a Japan AI who already has a strong military advantage and the opponent controlled at the time all of North America having a vast city advantage over me who had about half of South America. He had a big army advantage as well as I had placed most my effort into maintaining civ happiness and getting my tiles worked instead of army strength. In the end my Japan AI opponent lost 25-30 Samurai and silimilar strength units against my undefended coast city before I had units out to answer the call to war.

Next example:
In the very same game, and in the next 10 turns following my massive victory against the japanese invasion, when I had my military units out (which were at least 1-2 tiers below Japan in tech), I was able to take one of his coast cities with great help from 4 frigates I had bombarding, to which the AI had no answer other than using city attacks. On the very next turn Japan approaches me and begs for peace. He wants peace so badly he offers me control of all his cities except his capital.

Wait, what !? You read right, I took one city from him which was pretty small size and although it had difficult access by land it had no great value, and Japan pretty much threw in the towel. Of course I accepted his request and in one single turn I had taken North America..

Thats pretty messed up if you ask me. Even if I were to outsmart my AI opponent, I had no idea something like that would happen, I was rather expecting a gruelling trench war for territory that would most likely last the rest of the game. Instead he just gave me ALL his cities (around 20 cities) except his capital.

If thats not enough he then displaying very amusing diplomacy. For the first few turns he was very careful and hailed me as a great conqueror, then a couple turns later he threatened with war if I continued expanding on his borders (he gave me all the cities surrounding his capital, there was nowhere to settle really even if I had wanted to), and then about 10 turns after that, he declared war on me and of course got snuffed out within a couple turns.

Ergh.. The computer opponent behaviour of this game has some pretty serious issues. I've learned through other articles about Civ V that the game in fact only had two programmers working on the entire AI programming. And about 30-40 graphics artists.

Seriously, SHAME ON YOU FIRAXIS. I really hope the AI gets some love in a shortly released patch, otherwise I don't see this game having very lasting appeal.

Another major gripe I have at the moment is how poor the multiplayer apparently is. According to Zeitgeist at (good game review site btw!), the multiplayer part of the game has severe performance issues for just basic play. Believe it or not there is also no way to save your multiplayer games it seems, which is a pretty big turn off far as I'm concerned. I don't think most people if any would sit with for a multiplayer session of Civ V and finish the entire game in one sitting. SHAME ON YOU FIRAXIS.

There's also reports of graphic anomalies during multiplayer, including players having all their unit animations turned off.. Whats the deal with that ?

The "good news" is, none of these issues are really game breaking to the effect they cant be fixed with some patching effort from Firaxis. The real question is though, will they bother, now that the game has already been out a few days, gotten rave reviews and is selling like candy?

Edit! On a gaming forum I mentioned how the AI gave away almost all its cities, someone asked if I had downloaded the patch to adjust the AI so it no longer is so desperate for peace it will give you anything and everything. There IS a patch on Steam I noticed but it makes no mention of adjusting AI behaviour. Gonna look around and see if there's some secret patch somewhere I should be getting.

Edit #2! Multiplayer games still autosave, I'm now told. So continued multiplayer sessions should indeed be possible. :)

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